Disc golfers eager to play

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island file

    Phil Worwa (aka Santa in Paradise) celebrates not only Canada Day (got that, Bev Brody?), but a champion disc golfer from Canada during his travels at First Saturday gathering in downtown Kapa‘a.

  • Photo courtesy Phil Worwa

    From left, Andrew Duvall of Innova Disc Golf, Princeville Makai Golf Club General Manager Doug Sutter and and Darrell Bankes of Innova Disc Golf stop for a round at the Princeville Makai Golf Club in this undated photo.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island file

    Phil Worwa lets a disc golf disc fly at Kukuiolono Golf Course in Kalaheo.

Five years ago, when Kaua‘i Disc Golf founder Philip Worwa started his company, there wasn’t a disc golf scene on the island.

Through a lot of networking, Worwa, a former manager at Costco, gradually built up a presence here. Now there are four disc golf locations on the island, and he hopes to continue to cultivate the sport.

Worwa, a semi-retired man who works several gigs including his Kaua‘i Disc Golf company, is Santa Claus in Paradise, and up until the COVID-19 pandemic was a part-time shuttle driver for visitors coming off the cruise ships in Nawiliwili.

Disc golf is one of Worwa’s primary passions that he transformed into a small business.

For Warwa, who used to live in San Diego, which is a disc golfing mecca, it is has been difficult not to be able to play his favorite sport.

“It’s devastating not to be able to go and play,” Warwa said. “I am an extrovert, and when I was in San Diego, I would play a lot because it would keep me busy.”

His story on how he brought disc golf to Kaua‘i is an elongated one, and will be told in the second installment of this column after visiting some of the local courses and taking a tour of just how the disc golf scene was built here.

The soft opening of both golf and disc golf courses should bring some temporary relief to plenty of people clamoring for outdoor activities since the lockdown.

Once the calendar flipped over to May, there has been a lot of talk of transitioning the economy back. While the decision is well above my pay scale, it will be interesting to see what transpires with this soft opening in sports.

The NBA, one of the first major professional organizations to be impacted by the coronavirus, is looking to return to practice facilities on May 8, the disc golf and the golf world will return to the recreation part of the sport starting this week on Kaua‘i, and NASCAR plans on running 10 live races during a 17-day course throughout the middle to the end of May.

Whether the time is too soon to do this, only time will tell. You can interject an opinion on that all day long, but the fact remains that time holds the key to all questions in the universe.

One thing is for sure. Many of these players who were cooped up will be anxious to get things rolling, and Worwa, who has an entrepreneurial spirit combined with a passion for the game, will be ready to hit the greens and take on the courses while practicing social distancing simultaneously.

When disc golf returns full-time to competitions, and not just recreation, Worwa has some intriguing ideas. One of those that stands out is developing a Kaua‘i all-star disc golf team.

This will give recreational disc golf players predominant notoriety for playing a game they love.

Through Worwa and many other disc golf enthusiasts’ efforts, there are now four parks: Weliweli Park, Lydgate Park, Hokuala and Princeville Makai Golf Course.

It will be interesting to see what transpires for disc golf and regular golf. Some golf purists probably even cringe with those two names being put together.

Whatever happens, hopefully the timing is right for everything to continue, and it isn’t too soon.

•••

Jason Blasco, sports reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or jblasco@thegardenisland.com

2 Comments
  1. Kauaidoug May 4, 2020 7:53 am Reply

    I am looking forward to enjoying the out of doors with disc golf


  2. Mr. McGee May 4, 2020 10:31 am Reply

    Puakea has a pop up course, not Hokuala.


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