Island golf pros aid hurricane victims

LIHU’E — It started out with just two Kaua’i golf pros coming up with the idea and then the other pros followed suit in a golf clinic at Puakea to help out hurricane victims throughout the Gulf Coast.

Kiahuna’s Ron Castillo phoned Puakea’s Paul “Judge” Ito to set up an event to benefit Hurricane Katrina victims and after Rita hit another area off of the Gulf Coast, the clinic became essential.

“Golf pros usually are always willing to help out,” Ito said.

For a $20 donation to the American Red Cross, players received a 10-minute individual golf lesson.

Island PGA professionals such as Castillo (Kiahuna), Rich Fite and Todd Stewart of Kaua’i Lagoons, Chad Dusenberry and Craig Sasada of Po’ipu Bay, Eric Belmonte and Tom Freestone of Princeville, Ito and McGowan of Puakea, and Matthew “Big” Mack and Glenn Tamagawa of Wailua let amateurs have a taste of lessons from the pros.

“I just want to thank all of the golf pros for spending time here and thinking about the hurricane victims,” Ito noted.

A free group clinic kicked the day off at 10 a.m. and another group lesson was held at noon. Wala’au’s Dickie “Da Wizard” Chang and Bruce “Da Juice” Smalling were on hand to film the event. Chang showed off his “unorthodox” swing by hitting a ball off of a beer bottle.

The pros also had a chance to offer Chang some advice on his golf game, which made for some interesting banter.

“Dickie just needs to work on his mental game. I think that’s his biggest problem,” Sasada said.

The event raised an ample amount of funds which will go directly to the American Red Cross.

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