Lahaina Junior Golf Association celebrates its tenth anniversary
WEST MAUI – Imagine the awestruck feeling of impressionable youngsters introduced to the game of golf at two of the world’s premiere courses here on the West Side. Couple this with instruction from professional mentors from those venues at Kaanapali and Kapalua, and you have a unique opportunity for the children.
This is the Lahaina Junior Golf Association. In 2019, LJGA celebrates its tenth year as one of the top youth sports programs on Maui and across the state, and boasts paving a pathway to collegiate attention and scholarships to several of its participants.
In the broader perspective, the LJGA provides an introduction and opportunity for some 50 youngsters ages 6-17 each fall season. Founded by youth sports program advocate Don Rosenthal along with several energetic board members, including Sutee Nitakorn, Don Guzman, Joel Navarro, Scott Soldwisch, Dave Havens, Ben Hongo, Peter and Jennifer Villatora, and many others, the program is geared toward a lesson-based format for the kids.
“The emphasis is on fun and to provide access to the game of golf at an affordable cost for the youngsters,” said Nitakorn, the director of golf at Kaanapali. “Joel (Navarro), along with Keith Benedict, Thawat Metharonarath, Scott Reinhart and several others, are dedicated to taking the program to the next level, introducing new things like ‘Birdies for Better’ sponsored by Slot Shot Golf created by Fred Torres, a season-long format similar to the FedEx Cup where LJGA juniors are divided into teams that compete for an end of season title and rewards.”
The LJGA season teed off in mid-September and runs through the end of November. The matches take place on Sundays mostly at Kaanapali and Kapalua for most of the events, with Maui Nui also hosting competitions.
The Lahaina community salutes the LJGA, along with the Kaanapali and Kapalua golf courses, for its attention to providing a first-class opportunity for the youth of the West Side. And, once again, mahalo to “Dandy” Don Rosenthal, our youth sports visionary, who founded the West Maui Youth Basketball League and Lahaina Flag Football League, along with the LJGA for the enrichment for all of our children.