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Lahaina Junior Golf offers world-class experience to West Side keiki

By Staff | Nov 8, 2012

Kamu Kanaha (left) and Yasmine Chadli were among this year's Lahaina Junior Golf participants.

LAHAINA – After an inaugural season four years ago with 13 participants, Lahaina Junior Golf has burgeoned into a topflight program filled to its maximum roster to offer a world-class experience to the youth of the West Side.

Guided by veteran Lahaina youth sports leader Don Rosenthal and a dedicated board of directors that included Suti Nitakorn, Mike Jones, Jim Peterson, Anna Kanaha, Ben Hongo, Dave Havens, Tom Bell, Scott Soldwisch, Jason Kanaha, Peter Villatora, Judy Peterson Don Guzman and Laura Jones, LJG signed up 48 boys and girls ages 7-17 to take part in the three-month program that culminates with a stroke play championship tournament and awards dinner on Nov. 17.

Throughout the season, the kids took part in match play tournaments to determine overall winners in four divisions divided by age and experience, as well as the Lahaina Cup Award to the top player in the program.

The winners were Malu “Rolls Royce” Rosenthal for Division I, Kamu Kanaha in D-2, Liam Chandli for D-3 and Joa Navarro in D-4.

“Commish” Rosenthal explained that LJG is a nonprofit program that benefits greatly from the generosity of the community to offer this world-class golf experience to the keiki of the West Side.

Coleman Scott, 2012 Olympic wrestling bronze medalist, recently led a free clinic for West Maui wrestlers at Lahainaluna High School. In addition to showing technique, Scott allowed the wrestlers to hold his Olympic medal. A four-time All-American and 2008 NCAA champion at Oklahoma State, Scott told the wrestlers he isn’t satisfied with bronze and will pursue the gold in 2016. Here, Scott shows technique on Lahainaluna junior Bubba Jaramillo. PHOTO BY CINDY BALL.

In particular, he praised Nitakorn and Mike Jones, the head golf pro at Kaanapali and the director of golf at the Kapalua Resort, respectively, as instrumental in offering the kids such an unparalleled golf experience.

“Thanks to Suti and Mike, we are privileged to practice and play at the world-class facilities at Kapalua and Kaanapali, including the Golf Academy at Kapalua led by Ben Hongo,” Rosenthal said.

He added that the organization will host a fundraising golf tournament on Dec. 2 at Kaanapali that will include prizes and a special luncheon. For more information, go to www.lahainajuniorgolf.us.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their help in making LJG one of the top programs for kids in Hawaii. Most especially, I thank the Lord Our Savior Jesus Christ for being the energy that runs this program – he just uses an idiot like me as a front – and my ever-faithful wife, Phyllis, for their support,” he said.

“Mahalo also to Anna Kanaha, our secretary, who takes care of all the details – does everything, actually – and is the glue that keeps everything together and running smoothly. Thanks to all of the board members, the golf courses, the workers at the resorts, to the Royal Lahaina and to Roy’s. It’s been a great season.”