Interest in Lahaina Junior Golf at an all-time high
LAHAINA – Imagine being able to play a round of golf almost any day of the week at either of two of the top resorts in the world – for free. Then think of getting state-of-the-art instruction as well as professional coaching, also at no charge. This is Lahaina Junior Golf.
Now into its fourth year here on the West Side, the LJG program once again offers its membership to children ages 6-18 for the fall season that runs with weekly tournaments and instruction from September to mid-December.
The young golfers are offered instruction and coaching from the leadership of the organization led by President Don Rosenthal, Vice Presidents Mike Jones and Suti Nitakorn, Treasurer Jim Petersen and Secretary Anna Kanaha.
Also instrumental in the success of the program are the board members, including Jason Kanaha, Ben Hongo, David Havens, Scott Soldwisch, Judy Petersen, Don Guzman, Peter Villatora and Laura Jones.
President Rosenthal reported that this year, the club membership has filled to 50, and that interest and participation are at all-time highs.
“Things are really rolling along well this year, and that is a credit to all these people that contribute to the program – especially Anna Kanaha, Mike Jones, Suti Nitakorn, Dave Havens and Ben Hongo,” he said.
“We have tournaments on Wednesdays and Sundays for the kids at different levels, and we’ll climax the season with the Lahaina Cup finals in four divisions on December 13-14, followed by our annual awards ceremony and banquet.”
Rosenthal went on to note how the youth of our community are able to benefit from the generosity and care of the LJG leaders. “It’s just really something to see and experience as these kids get to go out and play these courses, and then receive the instruction from Ben at the Kapalua Golf Academy and Dave at Kaanapali. These guys give their all to any kid that is willing to put in the effort, and the results of this program are starting to show.”
Indeed, in four short years, Lahaina Junior Golf has produced two MIL Players of the Year and set the stage for several Maui kids to go to college by way of the golf experience they have received here.
Aaron Kunitomo (UCLA), Marissa Uradomo (Indiana State), Chris Shimomura (University of Hawaii at Hilo), Michiko Smith (Notre Dame College of Ohio), Wilma Elefante (Sacramento State) and Malu Rosenthal (Warner Pacific College) are all competing at the college level and benefiting financially from their early years in the game with the local organization.
“We are really thankful for all that help us keep Lahaina Junior Golf going,” said Rosenthal. “It’s really a great organization that has its priorities set straight – and that is to take care of the kids first and foremost. It is so important that the effort and generosity from Mike at Kapalua and Suti at Kaanapali be known to the public. And also to the LahainaTown Action Committee and a local golf club known as ‘Da Game’ that donate the proceeds of their tournaments to the program, we send a big mahalo. To the community and all the local merchants, we send our appreciation for their support throughout the years. Please know that your efforts create a truly positive future for the kids.”