Event hosted by Ka‘anapali Golf Courses and Sentry Insurance; University of Hawai‘i also receives donation for Warrior Golf Booster Fund
MAUI, Hawai‘i – Ahead of the 2023 Sentry Tournament of Champions, Ka‘anapali Golf Courses and Sentry Insurance invited over 200 attendees, including 115 juniors from Maui aged 3 to 18, to a free interactive clinic in support of First Tee-Hawai‘i and the Hawaii State Junior Golf Association (“HSJGA”).
Notable speakers included PGA TOUR winners Russell Henley, Tony Finau and Golf Channel/NBC Sports analyst and longtime Maui resident, Mark Rolfing.
First Tee-Hawai‘i integrates golf with a life skills curriculum to create active learning experiences for juniors that build self-confidence and resiliency.
“Sentry has been a corporate trustee of the First Tee since 2021,” said Pete McPartland, Chairman of the Board, President and CEO of Sentry, title sponsor of the Sentry Tournament of Champions. “Sentry is dedicated to advancing the accessibility and inclusivity of recreational golf for individuals from diverse backgrounds and in communities of all sizes across the United States.”
The Aloha Section PGA and First Tee-Hawai‘i volunteers donated their time to produce a memorable event for Maui’s juniors. Ka‘anapali’s driving range hosted swing lessons by PGA Professionals and “hit the whale” inflatable targets. Short game drills included “chipping darts” and wedge shots to different yardage circles. Rental clubs were provided complimentary by Ka‘anapali Golf Courses and Callaway Golf.
“The advantage of having Ka‘anapali in close proximity to Kapalua is that it’s a great opportunity to showcase golf options to the juniors in our community,” said Chris Noda, Executive Director of First Tee-Hawai‘i and HSJGA. “We want to further raise awareness of the fantastic programs that First Tee-Hawai‘i has to offer statewide.”
The family fun was not limited to golf. DJ Maui Tunes kept attendees entertained throughout, while Maui Soda & Ice Works poured beverages and Maui Big Wave Shave Ice Company served desserts. Da Bounce Party Rentals provided inflatable skee ball, sumo wrestling and corn hole boards.
Russell Henley, a four-time PGA TOUR champion whose first victory came at the 2013 Sony Open in Hawaii, visited with Maui’s juniors to share his swing tips.
Joining Henley at the event was five-time PGA TOUR winner Tony Finau, who earned a top-10 finish at the 2023 Sentry Tournament of Champions. He created plenty of fanfare by bombing drives over the range net and onto the fairway of hole 16 at Royal Ka‘anapali.
Finau, who is of Polynesian descent, spoke of his affinity for the Aloha State. His wife’s family lives on the North Shore of Oahu. He discussed the importance of goal setting in golf and life, and how his vivid memories of watching Tiger Woods win the 1997 Masters fueled his desire to emulate Woods’ career.
Kids also had the special chance to interact with one of golf’s most respected TV personalities, Mark Rolfing.
“It’s hard for me to describe the sense of pride and joy that I had seeing all of those kids, parents and community members participating in one of the most unique and enjoyable junior golf events that I’ve seen in all my years on Maui!” said Rolfing. “Thanks to everyone at the First Tee-Hawai‘i, Hawaii State Junior Golf Association, Ka‘anapali Golf Courses and all the volunteers for their tremendous planning and hard work!”
Additionally, the 2023 Kickoff Event featured University of Hawai‘i head men’s golf coach and seven-time PGA TOUR winner, Scott Simpson. Stemming from the 2022 Ka‘anapali Classic, Karl Reul, general manager of Ka‘anapali Golf Courses, presented a $5,000 check to the Warrior Golf Booster Fund at the University of Hawai‘i. Funding for travel is a critical need for student-athletes. Ka‘anapali Golf Courses was pleased to support the state’s flagship university.
“Every penny raised directly helps our student-athletes get better and makes their time on our golf team even more memorable,” said Coach Simpson. “From hosting great tournaments to generous financial support, we are grateful for our continued partnership and friendship with Ka‘anapali Golf Courses and Troon Golf. It means a lot.”
To learn more about the First Tee-Hawai‘i, visit www.firstteehawaii.org.
To learn more about the Hawaii Junior State Golf Association, visit www.hsjga.org.