Golf courses support new Lahaina Junior Golf League
LAHAINA — The Lahaina Junior Golf League (LJGL) hit its inaugural drive straight and true down the middle of the fairway to set up a bright future for youth linksters here on the West Side.
Headed up by Don Rosenthal, the LJGL culminated its first season over the Halloween weekend with a 36-hole, two-day tournament at the Kapalua Bay Course and Kaanapali Golf Resort, respectively.
Rosenthal, who has guided the West Maui Youth Basketball League to 25 years of unprecedented success, has taken his organizational expertise from the hard court to the golf courses in his noble effort to provide the youth of the community with athletic avenues that emphasize positive values.
Rosenthal’s latest endeavor opened up a wide horizon for youth golf enthusiasts in West Maui. Junior golfers ages nine to 17 participated in the initial season of the league that ran from early September to Nov. 1.
Eighteen players participated in the team format matches each Wednesday at the premiere courses at Kaanapali and Kapalua.
“The idea was to have the younger kids work with the high school players,” explained Rosenthal. “I want to say that it really worked as the high school boys — Aaron and Andrew Kunitomo, Jamie Horton, Chris Shimomura and Malu Rosenthal — all showed fine leadership throughout the season as great examples for the younger ones. They provided ways for the kids to form aspirations of their own to become good players.”
According to Commish Don, the LJGL also featured a competitive aspect based on cumulative points for the individual players.
The race for “The Lahaina Cup” saw Malu Rosenthal finish on top with 55 points, followed by Jamie Horton (50 points), Tristan Villa (47.8), Aaron Kunitomo (45.3), Chasen Bahouth (43.8), Noah Klipstein (42.8), James Foster (41), Andrew Kunitomo (41), Chelsea Brink (39.5) and Ezra Macadangdang (39) in the top ten.
They were followed by Kayla Martinez with 37.5 points, Stephan Foster (36.3), Chris Shimomura (35.5), Wilma Elefante (35.3), An Hua (33), Brandon Galarita (32.5), Cooper Vanderlaan (30) and Tyler Okimoto (28) rounding out the list.
“This whole thing turned out better than we expected,” said Rosenthal. “It really showed the commitment of the Kaanapali and Kapalua Resorts to junior golf and paved the way for bigger and better things for this program in the future. The resorts really put out the welcome mat for this program and what it will do for the kids, and we’ll be meeting in the near future to set up plans to grow the league and bring large organizations like the USGA into the fold.”
“For me, it is wonderful to see that these youngsters that have a passion for golf have access to the premiere facilities in the country under the leadership of people like Sutee Nitakorn at Kaanapali, Mike Jones at Kapalua, Ben Hongo — also from Kapalua — and Scott Soldwisch, the athletic director at Lahainaluna and former golf coach for the Lunas. This was really the right group of guys to get this program going in the right direction to provide the opportunity for all kids, regardless of their economic situation, to participate in the program.”
“The parents were really happy,” Rosenthal continued. “The success really showed that with the help of the Good Lord and people like Nitakorn, Jones, Hongo and Soldwisch, that any idiot like me can pull off something like this. Our special thanks goes out also to One Main Plaza, UFO Parasail, Sheraton Maui and Leilani’s On The Beach for their support. It was a great first season thanks to all, and we send our congratulations to all involved!”