On the heels of young Tadd Fujikawas incredible performance two weeks ago at the Sony Open in Hawaii, I am reminded that Hawaiis Junior Golf programs are among the best in America.
It was only a few years ago that one of the perceptions of junior golf in Hawaii was that it was only Michelle Wie; but ,in fact, over these few years it has been much, much more, culminating with Kimberly Kims US Womens Amateur victory last year at the age of 14.
Even though Hawaii is remote in location, the Hawaii State Junior Golf Association has made it big when it comes to competition. Events like the King Auto Pro Skills Challenge give our best junior golfers experiences that will last a lifetime. Imagine the confidence that a young golfer can build when he or she performs under the spotlight with some of the game's best golfers as their partners. Ive seen the results, not only on the course, but off as many of Hawaiis Junior Golf standouts head to some of Americas best colleges and universities.
While the primary goal of the Hawaii Junior Golf Association is to provide educational, instructional and competitive opportunities for our junior golfers, the junior golf programs here in Hawaii also serve another purpose. They act as a marketing tool for tourism and golf industries. Because our chain of islands is such a remote location, we have no residents here who play the PGA TOUR or LPGA Tour on a full-time basis. Other destinations throughout the mainland U.S. have numerous high-profile professional golfers who produce considerable and consistent exposure for their areas.
Here in Hawaii, the void of our lack of touring professional golfers is filled by our junior golfers. Consider this, in just the last four years our junior golf products have captured the U.S. Amateur Mens Public Links, the U.S. Womens Amateur Public Links, the U.S. Womens Amateur, and, recently, one of our junior boys became the youngest ever to qualify for the U.S. Open and also the youngest ever to finish in the top 20 of a PGA TOUR tournament. These and many more terrific performances by our junior golfers on the national level have generated tremendous exposure for Hawaii.
For a state that has a total population of only 1.2 million, the national titles our junior golfers have won -- to say the least -- are impressive; and believe me, there are more to come. Hawaii Junior Golf - No Ka OiIts the best!
Thats MY VIEW!
Editors Note: Mark Rolfing, a Maui resident, is one of the leading forces in sports event marketing and production in Hawaii. As NBC Sports award-winning golf commentator, Rolfing continues to cover top golf events such as the prestigious Ryder Cup, The Players Championship and The U.S Open. Rolfing also hosts Golf Hawaii on The Golf Channel. Golf Hawaii, now in its twelfth season is one of the longest running sports shows in the nation.