Planos ends his long ride as Kapalua icon

By Associated PressJanuary 10, 2011, 9:44 pm

KAPALUA, Hawaii – Gary Planos came to Maui some 35 years ago with $7,000 in traveler’s checks and no idea where he was going.

“I thought I was going to be a waiter,” he said from his office overlooking the ocean, a view that doesn’t get old. “I brought a correspondence book on advertising with me, sat on the beach, got bored and the next hour got a job at Kapalua.”

Planos started as a bag boy at the new Bay Course, earning $3 an hour with playing privileges.

It led to more than he could ever have imagined.

His amazing ride ends Sunday with the Tournament of Champions, an event over which he has presided for the better part of two decades, looking after everyone from Jack Nicklaus to Tiger Woods, from Hale Irwin to Ernie Els.

“Gary is Kapalua,” said Steve Stricker.

His job as senior vice president of resort operations—the ninth title he has held dating to his days as a bag boy—was eliminated last year as the resort changed its direction. It no longer will manage its golf courses or run tournaments.

For so many years, most people didn’t know what his title was. Planos simply was the guy who would show up at various PGA Tour events in an Aloha shirt with the famous Kapalua butterfly logo.

For years, Planos was identified just as easily by four words: “Do you need anything?”

He has taken David Toms and Chad Campbell on hunting trips. He has arranged fishing trips and whale-watching excursions on the Maui Jim boat for more people than he can count. Need a dinner reservation during the busiest week at Kapalua? Planos could whip out his cell phone and with one call take care of it.

Mike Ditka was in his steakhouse in Oak Brook, Ill., last September, trying to get out of the restaurant as patrons at every table stopped him to ask for an autograph or a picture. It was getting old. And then he saw Planos at a table and stopped to visit.

“How’s everything at Kapalua?” Ditka said, a frequent visitor.

Longtime friend Joe Torre once made a last-minute request. It seems New York Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte needed 15 hotel rooms at the Ritz-Carlton for New Year’s Eve during the millennium. Done.

“He’s been an incredible host,” Adam Scott said. “I can’t say enough about the guy. He has to deal with 32 prima donnas every year, and somehow he caters for all our needs. He’s done a hell of a job and there’s always a smile on his face.”

It’s not just the players whom Planos looks after.

Ernie Els came to Kapalua for the first time in 2000 when his daughter, Samantha, was 7 months old. He was amazed at the lengths Planos went to look after her.

“Out on tour, he’s just the best,” Els said. “I know they have had a tough time here, but I cannot say enough about Gary and the way he has handled the tournament and the players all these years. I don’t think there is a better tournament, really.”

Rocco Mediate brought his sons to Hawaii, and the day they were to leave, he forgot to arrange a ride to the airport. He made a phone call, only to learn Planos and his staff had already taken care of it.

“He takes care of everything, most of the time before you even know it,” Mediate said.

Scott brought his parents to Kapalua this year. Planos put them on the Maui Jim, let them play the Plantation Course the day before the tournament week got under way and arranged for golf anywhere on the island.

“My parents think he’s the guy’s meant to book all that stuff,” Scott said. “They have had the best time. More than making the players happy, he makes the people around them happy, which makes the players really happy.”

Planos has never given it a second thought.

“I learned really early that if I was friendly to whoever I was caddying for, I would get tipped better,” he said. “If you did a better job teaching, they would return. It’s not anything you have to think twice about.”

Planos grew up in the Chicago area as an Evans Scholar caddie, and remains part of the Western Golf Association.

So how does a bag boy become a favorite of golf’s biggest stars?

Planos decided to become an assistant pro, which took him away from Kapalua for a brief time, but not Maui. He worked at Kaanapali for three years, then spent four years at Wailea, working in the shop for six hours and teaching for six tours.

Mark Rolfing, the NBC Sports analyst who now runs the Tournament of Champions, was marketing director at Kapalua in 1984 when he hired Planos to be the head pro at the Village course, and Planos was on his way.

For the last 20 years, he has lived in a house that he rents with a view to Australia if he could see that far. His office in the pro shop at the Plantation Course overlooks the first tee, one of the most glorious vistas in golf.

“When I became an assistant pro, I thought I might be able to be a head pro and my highlight would be the member-guest,” Planos said. “I never realized my member-guest would be the Tournament of Champions. I got very lucky. I very much appreciate the luck I had. And I know I’ve got more ahead of me.”

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Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.



It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.



Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.



Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.



Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.



After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.



Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.


Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.