Is Grand Slam leaving Kaua’i? We’ll know next year

Just as big-stakes players constantly try to lure major Professional Golf Association of America tournaments from one venue to another on a regular basis, so have those wishing to steal the PGA Grand Slam of Golf away from Poipu Bay Golf Course and Kaua’i applied their pressure.

Like most everyone else, those seeking to host the prestigious tournament know it’s been here for the last 12 years only on a series of one-year contracts, which in recent years have been renewed and announced at a shindig the night before the golf starts.

That’s not going to happen this year.

This year, it would seem, those wishing to host the tourney that pairs the winners of golf’s four major championships (The Masters, PGA Championship, U.S. Open and British Open) in a winner-take-all, two-day tournament, have turned up the heat, with PGA officials feeling the flames.

Comments from Julius Mason, PGA of America spokesman, are almost ominous in nature: “We could be back here if all others fall through.”

“Others,” in this case, would be offers from high-powered pitchmen, reportedly from Las Vegas, the Caribbean, and other locales, who can bring a lot more to the table than those who hope the tourney stayson quaint Kaua’i.

The best things Kauaians have going are the weather, the spectacular course in a spectacular setting and, possibly most influential, the relationships built up during the course of a 12-year run at hosting this tournament.

“We have developed some wonderful relationships and lasting friendships” because of the tournament and the wonderful hosts the people at Poipu Bay Golf Course, Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa, land owner Kawailoa Development, and the people of Kaua’i have been, said Mason, juggling his young child, an audio crew and numerous telephone media inquiries at the Grand Hyatt Kauai’s PGA Grand Slam of Golf media center last week.

A decision on where the 2006 Grand Slam of Golf will be likely won’t come until 2006, he said. “As soon as a deal is done, it will be announced.

“There’s no deal,” so there’s nothing else to share, he added, while leaving the door open for a return engagement while also scuttling rumors that those at some Caribbean resort or strip casino already are flying the banners welcoming the participants in the 2006 PGA Grand Slam of Golf.

“Any news of the tourney going someplace else would come from us,” said Mason, attempting to squash rumors that started last week and have failed so far to subside.

“We would never rule out returning to Kauai.”

Those in positions to comment on what the loss of the Grand Slam of Golf would mean to the hotel and island economy have so far refused to make such speculative comments, in part because they know PGA officials would read them and they may play a part in any decision on the 2006 Grand Slam of Golf.

Why not focus on the positive thing for the island that is the 2005 PGA Grand Slam of Golf? they said.

Most everyone already knows the major economic impact that the major sporting event has on Kaua’i, in terms of airlines, car-rental companies, hotels and resorts, restaurants, activities, and shops.

The free publicity that the tournament’s TV coverage generates on both TNT and The Golf Channel, beaming back to frigid Mainlanders the scenes of sunny Po’ipu in November, do wonders for those in the visitor industry, they have said from experience in years past.

Hyatt reservations lines get instant surges of activity during the tournament, a former Hyatt Regency Kauai Resort & Spa general manager once said.

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