Walter McBryde’s vision kept alive at Kukuiolono

  • The Garden Island file

    Robert Medeiros is general manager and superintendent of Kukuiolono Golf Course, and vows to continually improve the course for golfers and their families.

As general manager and superintendent of the Kukuiolono Park &Golf Course in Kalaheo, Robert Medeiros took me on a tour of the park Saturday afternoon. The beautiful walk provided more than a grand view, as the tour was also an island history lesson.

Taking a tour of the park was more than just breathtaking, relaxing and several other superlatives you could use to describe the park. It was a snapshot into another time.

Medeiros and the park are into the historical preservation of a course that has been on the island since the 1930s.

The course was founded by Walter McBryde, an entrepreneur who founded the Kaua‘i Fruit and Land Company with a pineapple cannery in Lawa‘i.

According to Medeiros, the park was a gift from McBryde to the people of Kaua‘i.

“The park itself was provided for the mental and physical needs of the people,” Medeiros said. “When Walter passed away in 1930, the park was frequented by mostly plantation workers, and for the people that managed the park to enjoy it.”

Through a general overview of the man and his beliefs, it’s abundantly clear that Medeiros and the Kukuiolono Park Trustee Billy Casper Golf, which owns and operates the park today, want to carry on McBryde’s principles, and take the historical preservation of the park and course seriously.

“Walter enjoyed golf, and when he was alive, there were six holes,” Medeiros said. “The volunteers and workers took care of the park and came out on the weekends where they enjoyed family time. He wanted the park for everyone to enjoy, and that is why it is so affordable to this day to golf.”

Aside from feeling the slight breeze of the trade winds and the grand view of the ocean, where on a clear day you can see the island of O‘ahu and catch the sunrise and sunset, you can feel that McBryde’s presence is still felt in the park where he is buried.

Now, more than ever, relief is needed, and it is clear that’s never wavered from McBryde’s original vision of the park.

The park later added a horse-racing track and baseball in the 1950s, with legendary baseball players such as former Dodger shortstop Pee Wee Reese and former New York Yankee Joe Dimaggio passing through to promote the game.

From Paco’s Tacos, which is currently open only for carryout at the course, to the continued expansion of mini-golf and walking, this course is like an outdoor athletic facility.

“This facility provides a lot of relief just being here,” Medeiros said. “It is private property, but the public owns it. We are blessed to have it, and blessed to work here.”

With more restrictions and less certainty, we live in a time where taking care of our mental health becomes more of a priority than ever before.

It was refreshing to see this man’s 100-year vision to sustain its relevance in this time of unrest, and it is also a pleasant reminder to take care of our physical and mental well-being.

This change in the dynamic of lifestyle post-COVID-19 should ensure that McBryde’s hope and vision for a higher quality of life will remain intact.

Taking care of your mental health is paramount in an increasingly more constricted world in which we live.

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

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