National News

Free golf for some Hawaii players

Posted June 13

— Free golf!

It sounds too good to be true, but it is being offered by the City & County of Honolulu starting July 1.

Many golfers hit the greens on the King Kamehameha Day Holiday.

While Kalani High School golfer Michelle Kim got a little extra practice time at the driving range.

She's grown up with a golf club in her hands and loves the sport.

"I really like how it teaches me self control and I can apply that in school, and everywhere around me," said Kim.

Buckets of balls are just some of the cost of the game, so are clubs, coaching and a lot of greens fees.

But starting next month, Hawaii's Junior golfers will play for free at city courses.

"When you have to take your child 3-4 times a week, that is a big deal. Free greens fees would help out a lot," said Michelle's mother Davianna Kim.

In order to cover the cost for junior golfers, visiting golfers will pay $11 more for an 18 hole round.

City Council members approved the changes to get more kids to take up the sport.

"We are going to be encouraging golf for our youth 18 and under, to play for free on the courses. They can bring an adult with them to walk or play. When they began getting older, they could bring their kids to play golf," said Honolulu City Councilman Joey Manahan.

As those young golfers become adults, the additional players could boost revenue for the city. Interest in the game has waned, according to some long-time Hawaii golfers like Blaine Tajiri, "There are not as many walk-ons. Before you used to have guys lined up waiting to golf. It is not as bad nowadays."

Lower cost could attract more young golfers to the game, but according to those who work with youth athlete, there are other factors that limit how many pick up their clubs and keep playing.

"Availability of playing time and playing opportunity and being able to get out there when they have time. They have school and homework and all the things they have to do as well," said youth coach Ross Cabildo.

"There are some kids there 4-5 hours at the course practicing. Then they have to go home and study during the school year. That's a lot of commitment, its not easy," stated Davianna Kim.

Her daughter Michelle's commitment keeps her eyes on the target, in golf and in life.

"I've been practicing hard, so I can get a golf scholarship," said the Kalani High School Junior.

Regular fees for Hawaii golfers at city courses will remain at current prices, while the changes to visitor and junior rates will start July 1.

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