Westside golf gets greener

WAIMEA — “We need to get the kids out on the golf course, now,” said Richard Kuga of the West Kaua‘i Youth Golf Club. “They need to know what it feels like out there.”

Kuga, along with Glenn Kagawa, have been spearheading the effort to form a golf program for young players in West Kaua‘i.

About a year ago, Kagawa, Kuga and students gathered at the Kukui’s Restaurant at the Kaua‘i Marriott Resort and Beach Club to launch the WKYGC.

The group arrived with buckets that were placed at the Kaua‘i Lagoons pro shop as a way to solicit golf balls that the young golfers could use.

The action not only resulted in hundreds of golf balls, but contributions of equipment and golf clubs that the Kaua‘i Lagoons no longer used.

On Mother’s Day, May 14, the WKYGC will celebrate its first anniversary with a “We Are The Children” golf tournament at Kukuiolono Golf Course.

Young golfers between 6 and 14 years will play three holes free courtesy of the Kukuiolono Golf Course. Parents and adults can caddy for the aspiring golfers, and WKYGC will provide the scorers.

Kukuiolono Golf Course has done more than provide the site for this hands-on experience on the course for the children.

On Wednesday, Kuga was admiring the load of cuttings that would be spread out and form the basis for one of two putting greens that is taking shape in Waimea.

“This is good grass,” Kuga said. “It is salt tolerant, and someone told me that they sprinkle salt on the weeds to control them. It’s that durable.”

Kuga said Kagawa was also transporting a load of cuttings, but because he was using a trailer and didn’t want anything to fly, his trip was slower and would coincide with the arrival of the volunteers later on Wednesday afternoon.

“Dirt for the putting green came from Gay & Robinson, and you see the sand? That was donated by Kikiaola Construction,” Kuga said.

The putting green that Kuga and a handful of volunteers were working on is located at the entrance to the Waimea United Church of Christ located across the road from the facilities of Waimea High School.

Claps from Menehune football hopefuls punctuated the afternoon air and provided cadence for the volunteers who worked to spread the cuttings and apply sand and a layer of mulch.

The second putting green is located on Menehune Road in the park just mauka of the Waimea Big Save.

“That green is a lot bigger than this one,” Kuga said. “We’ve already got the sprinklers in, and it’s on its way.”

More recently, Kagawa noted that about a dozen students from Ke Kula Ni‘ihau O Kekaha charter school were treated to hitting balls at the Pacific Missile Range Facility Driving Range.

In addition to the children being able to play three holes at Kukuiolono, the Mother’s Day event will offer an abundance of golf demonstrations and prizes for the young golfers.

This will be followed by an appreciation party that will feature awards for the children as well as awards for the tournament.

A $100 dinner gift certificate will be given away to a lucky mother.

The fact that there are no golf courses west of Kukuiolono prompted the pair to organize and push for a golf course where Westside youth will have an opportunity to enjoy the sport.

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) and dfujimoto@kauaipubco.com

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