Lihu‘e resident Fran Roach has utilized golf as a vehicle to travel to the United States and throughout the world.
Roach, who recently formulated a 37 employee company called the Aloha Golf Group, was an aspiring Professional Golfers Association player, who participated in several PGA-sanctioned tournaments during the 1980s and held a PGA membership card since the late 1980s.
Roach, recently sat down with The Garden Island newspaper, to discuss his proficient golf career, his plans, and his history in his travels throughout the world of golf.
TGI: Where did you begin your golf career?
ROACH: I started my career as a junior golfer when I was seven-years-old in Upstate New York. I grew up on a public golf course, and there was a PGA-tour stop they called the BC Open. Golf was big in the area I grew up, and my mom, dad, and my brother had played golf and enjoyed golf as a junior golfer.
TGI: Was being in the golf world something you always had an aspiration to do?
ROACH: I always knew I wanted to be a professional golfer, and I wanted to be a touring professional in the PGA. I tried mini-tours, and all of that qualified for touring, and that wasn’t good enough, and I didn’t have the money to get to that level, so I became a golf pro, and I did a lot of golf tournaments, and eventually I became a PGA member. I became an official PGA member in 1989, so I’ve been an official PGA member for 31 years now.
TGI: What did you do after your golf career was over?
ROACH: I knew I wasn’t able to play professional golf and was an assistant pro, and go into that way of schooling through the business school four years after becoming a member.
For four years, I took PGA courses and passed all of the business schools and presented different paperwork. From the mid-80s, I was an assistant golf pro until I was about ten years old, and then I moved to Cairo, Egypt, and I was visited by head hunter interested in doing the 99-hole resort built with thousands of villas, and the timing was right. At the time, I didn’t have a passport, and I did my interviews to rush the passport process, and after I did my interview I fell in love with Egypt, and it was a great place with a lot of history, and they loved their golf, and it was quite a blessing to be over there at that time.
TGI: What was it like to be over in Egypt during that period?
ROACH: I did some startup work for two years on the Red Sea, and I worked for two years in Sharm El Sheikh at a golf resort and conference center where the president of Egypt Hosni Mubarak would have his Middle Eastern Peace Talks in my club.
I was in Sharm El Sheikh two weeks before Sept. 11, and I was brought to the National Security office to be interviewed, and I was the only American on the Red Sea. National Security would interview me for a couple of hours, and they were great in Egypt, and they had an office in my clubhouse and national security in my clubhouse.
The president and the first lady would come out and watch us, and they were great people, and it was fun there.
After Egypt, I was to Portugal to do another 45-hole development, and the opening there for golf and did a quick opening in Russia, and an hour south in Rostov-on-Don, and after that, I went to Portugal to do another 45-hole development.
TGI: What did you learn from being around the world?
ROACH: The most important thing that I learned about living all over the world is that you can’t change the mentality of the people. You have to adapt to your environment.
TGI: At what point did you return to the United States?
ROACH: I was in Portugal for a year and a half, and I then I wanted to go back to the United States to work in Florida at a golf course near Tampa.
I was acting more like a General Manager, and I started right from the bottom of the kitchen as a golf course, and a dishwasher, and I was fortunate to work with a good guy. I learned a lot of lessons, and I managed a lot of tournaments and did a lot of retail. I am pretty blessed with where I am to have the opportunities that I have.
TGI: How long have you been in Kauai?
ROACH: I’ve been to Kauai for about four years. I moved from Niagra Falls, New York, and helped improved a Native American Casino Golf Course and was there for about five years and worked at a golf club right off the Las Vegas strip before the opportunity.
I worked at the Timbers Resort in Kauai, and it was terrific they had great owners, and they were a great company to work for. Now, I have my own company called the Aloha Golf Group, which is a 37-employee company, and one of our first clients is the Puakea Golf Course, and we are managing the grill, and its a great restaurant.
I wanted to have a management group, I got it together in about two months, and I would say it is a boutique-style management system group.
We can provide high levels of service to our clients, and we offer conveyance, strong communication, and our clients, and our buying power is strong.
We provide savings in all aspects and our agreements with golf cart manufacturers, and insurance companies that buy insurance, save money. They are excellent networks and save money with different expenses out there.
Starting with this property was a win-win for our management group, and the property quite frankly. The golf course is turning around, and it’s in terrific shape now, and the kitchen equipment, and we are about to roll out a new menu, and it’s been a lot of fun, and there are lots of changes.
TGI: Did you ever envision going as many places through the world of golf?
ROACH: It’s been an excellent long career, and I’ve blessed to have a lot of fun, and there is a four-course openings, in four different countries, and we got to learn a lot and tried to study as much as we can.
I’ve traveled to 29 countries in my life and a lot of because of different golf shows golf courses and blessed to be able to go a lot of has been because of golfs Europe Portugal Egypt, Cairo has the pyramids and smirking and diving and next to Australia.
TGI: Outside of golf, what do you like to do?
ROACH: I love traveling, I love business, and I love spending time with my daughter Heidi. I love traveling with her going to the beach and watching her surf.