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Crenshaw: Maui? What’s not to like?

By Staff | Feb 4, 2010

Julie Crenshaw (right) gets ready to step downstairs with her twin sister to see her husband play in the tournament.

KAANAPALI — Julie Crenshaw, with her long blonde tresses and trim figure, turns heads. In fact, she was once in a Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

But she is already taken, married on Maui to what some people call a gentleman’s gentleman. One thing Julie has in common with half-a-million other visitors to Kaanapali, who come in all shapes and sizes, is that she loves Maui.

This Californian, who grew up near Pasadena’s Rose Bowl, likes to snorkel with her Texan husband and three children at at Pu‘u Keka‘a (Black Rock). Her favorite dining spots are the Plantation House Restaurant and Merriman’s, both in Kapalua. One recent Saturday night, the Crenshaws also feasted at Longhi’s.

Julie also plays golf, taught by her husband.

“I can now get it up into the air and onto the green,” she said. When he gives her two strokes, she claims she can beat him. But Julie Crenshaw is no ordinary golfer, wife and mother.

Her husband is Hall of Fame Golfer Ben Crenshaw, one of the legends who played recently in the Wendy’s Champions Skins Game at Kaanapali.

Paired with wisecracking Fuzzy Zoeller, they competed against Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Tom Watson, Fred Couples, Loren Roberts and Nick Price.

Julie first came to Maui in 1984. A year later, she and Ben married on the beach on the point at Kapalua Bay. “It rained the day before, but this was a gorgeous day,” she said. A reception for 80 people followed.

I caught up with Mrs. Crenshaw at a Sunday breakfast on the second day of the tourney. ESPN on-air commentator Judy Rankin, when asked, suggested Julie would make a great interview.  

Thus began a very pleasant Maui day filled with warm sunshine, answers to questions, tagging along as she walked with her twin sister from tee to tee, taking 170 digital photos and even recharging the camera battery at the Maui Eldorado Beach Cabana adjoining the course.

Asked what she loved about Maui, the island enthusiast was quick to respond. “What’s not to like? One of the things we love to do is snorkel. It’s shallow and the fish are incredibly beautiful.”

The family also enjoys kayaking in Kona, where they would head to another tournament beginning the next day.

“I love Maui because there is lots to do,” she said. The couple generally visits the island twice a year — more recently for golf tournaments, and sometimes for the EA Sports Maui Invitational Basketball Tournament. 

“It’s a great tournament,” she added. “Ben threw out the first ball when Texas played one year. We like the small gym, because you are up so close.”

The Crenshaws have come for at least one Halloween, marching in the keiki parade in the 1990s — she as Carmen Miranda, he as King Tut, and the kids as a Power Ranger and fairy.

The family’s attachment to Maui is so strong, two of their three children — ages 22, 17 and 12 — were baptized on the island. This year, the Crenshaws arrived three days before required for the tournament to snorkel, whale watch and enjoy the beach.

A non-golf highlight of the trip was jumping off Black Rock. “I don’t know what we were thinking, but we didn’t want to wait until we were too old. We are proud of ourselves. It was a little frightening, but we were encouraged by some very nice locals,” she noted.

At 9:05 a.m., this very down-to-earth woman headed for the first tee on the beautifully kept Royal Kaanapali Golf Course, which recently underwent a $13 million revamp. 

Along with her twin sister, she somewhat inconspicuously mingled with the large crowd. Shortly after, she came across and gave hugs to Impact A Hero Director Dick Lynch and two Iraq War veterans. Her mom later joined the little group. as did several other player’s wives.

As to the business at hand, Julie and her sister moved from tee to tee; the pair sometimes stayed beyond the ropes and other times walked inside, trailing the golfers and volunteers like singer Dee Coyle, who held a sign asking for quiet.

The presence of the veterans apparently provided incentive to Crenshaw and partner Fuzzy, who were winless Saturday. They kicked it up a notch to capture  several skins for individual holes. The partners split $230,000.

And after the tournament? Maybe time for more beach and then off to Kona for another tournament.

Column notes: In the interest of completeness, in profiling Dale Sorensen, this columnist failed to include one of the bartender’s favorite phrases: “All… (pause)… right,” said with a bit of a lilt. The phrase is used frequently, often when someone orders a drink.

The book, “Voices of Maui,” continues to go through  a tedious, paragraph-by-paragraph reformatting of all 50,000 words before resubmission to the publisher. The “golf interview” was a nice break.