Planos ends his long ride as Kapalua icon

By Doug FergusonJanuary 10, 2011, 2:37 am

Hyundai Tournament of Champions

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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High school seniors win U.S. Amateur Four-Ball

By Associated PressMay 24, 2018, 1:44 am

TEQUESTA, Fla. - The 18-year-old Hammer, from Houston, is set to play at Texas next fall. Barber, from Stuart, Fla., also is 18. He's headed to LSU.

''Growing up watching U.S. Opens and U.S. Amateurs on TV, I just knew being a USGA champion is something that I desperately wanted,'' said Hammer, who qualified for a U.S. Open three years ago at 15. ''And to finally do it, it feels incredible. It feels as good, if not better, than I thought it would. And especially being able to do it with Garrett. It's really cool to share this moment.''

Hammer and Cole won the par-4 eighth with a birdie to take a 2-up lead. They took the par-4 10th with a par, won the par-5 13th with an eagle - Barber hit a 4-iron from 235 yards to 3 feet - and halved the next two holes to end the match.

''Cole didn't want me to hit 4-iron,'' Barber said. ''He didn't think I could get it there. I was like, 'I got it.' So I hit it hard, hit pretty much a perfect shot. It was a crazy shot.''

The 32-year-old Dull is from Winter Park, Fla., and the 42-year-old Brooke from Altamonte Springs, Fla.

''Cole Hammer is a special player,'' Brooke said. ''Obviously, he's going to Texas (and) I'm not saying he is Jordan Spieth, but there are certain things that he does.''

In the morning semifinals, Hammer and Barber beat Idaho high school teammates Carson Barry and Sam Tidd, 5 and 4, and Brooke and Dull topped former Seattle University teammates Kyle Cornett and Patrick Sato, 4 and 3.

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Watch: Pumped up Beef deadlifts 485 lbs.

By Grill Room TeamMay 24, 2018, 12:19 am

Andrew "Beef" Johnston has been playing some solid golf on the European Tour this season, and he is clearly pumped up for one of the biggest weeks of the year at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

Judging from the video below, Beef will have no problems lifting the trophy on Sunday as he reportedly deadlifted 220 kg ... (Googles kilogram to pounds converter, enters numbers) ... that's 485 lbs!

@beefgolf with a new deadlift PB 220kg ! #youcantgowronggettingstrong

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Arizona captures NCAA DI Women's Championship

By Jay CoffinMay 23, 2018, 11:56 pm

STILLWATER, Okla. – Turns out this match-play format provides fireworks. Almost always.

In the four years since the women’s NCAA Championship has switched from the stale, 72-hole stroke-play format the championship matches have been pure magic.

This year, for the third time in the past four years, the final outcome came down to the last match and Arizona took home its third title with a 3-2 victory over Alabama on Wednesday when junior Haley Moore defeated senior Lakareber Abe on the 19th hole.

The Wildcats also won NCAA titles in 1996 and 2000, the latter when current Arizona coach Laura Ianello was on the team as a player.

“Arizona is my home, it is where I went to school and [the championship] needs to be back home,” Ianello said. “So I am so proud to be the coach to bring it back.”

Two days ago, Arizona was in the midst of an epic collapse. The Wildcats were safely in the third position after 54 holes of stroke play and needed only to be inside the top eight after 72 holes to advance to the match-play portion of the event.

But they played the worst round of the day and were on the outside looking in with one hole remaining when junior Bianca Pagdanganan made eagle on the par-5 18th hole. That propelled the Wildcats into a playoff against Baylor that they ultimately won.

On the first day of match play, Arizona continued to ride the wave of momentum by defeating Pac-12 rivals UCLA, the top seed, and Stanford, a match-play stalwart the past three years.

Next up for Arizona was Alabama, the top-ranked team in the country and the second seed this week after stroke play.


NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Team scoring

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Individual scoring


“Win or lose tomorrow, this has been a hell of a ride,” Ianello said, attempting to take pressure off her team, which, on paper, looked like an underdog.

But you know the saying, anything can happen in match play, and often does.

Alabama coach Mic Potter put out his three first-team All-Americans in the first three spots hoping to jump out to an early lead. Junior Lauren Stephenson played poorly in the opening match and lost, 4 and 3, to freshman Yu-Sang Hou.

Kristen Gillman and Cheyenne Knight dispatched Wildcats Gigi Stoll and Pagdanganan easily in the second and third matches.

Arizona’s Sandra Nordaas beat Angelica Moresco, 1 up, in the fourth match meaning the fifth and final match, which was all square after 16 holes, was going to decide the NCAA title.

Lakareber lost the 17th hole when her approach shot sailed well short and right of the green in thick, gnarly rough. She attempted to advance the ball but could not and headed to the final hole 1 down.

With seemingly every golf fan in Stillwater on site, including several men’s teams here to participate in next week’s championship, Abe hit a laser second shot into the par-5 18th hole setting up a 12-foot look for eagle. Moore missed her birdie putt and Abe won the hole to set up extra holes to decide the championship.

In the extra frame, Moore was left of the green in two shots and Abe was short in the greenside bunker. Moore chipped to 4 feet and Abe’s bunker shot was 6 feet away. Abe missed, Moore made and Arizona walked away with the hardware.

“It means so much, it’s actually like a dream,” Moore said. “I’m just so happy for my team right now.”

Potter has been a head coach for 35 years – at both Furman and Alabama – and finally was able to collect his first NCAA Championship in 2012. Being so close to a second one will sting for quite a while but he will be able to live with the outcome for one simple reason.

“They fought their hearts out all year,” Potter said. “I just want to congratulate them for the way they battled, not only today, but in match play. Everyone gave their best on every shot - that’s all we can ask.”

Arizona def. Alabama, 3-2

Yu-Sang Hou (AZ) def. Lauren Stephenson (AL), 4 and 3

Kristen Gillman (AL) def. Gigi Stoll (AZ), 4 and 3

Cheyenne Knight (AL) def. Bianca Pagdanganan, 4 and 2

Sandra Nordaas (AZ) def. Angelica Moresco (AL), 1 up

Haley Moore (AZ) def. Lakareber Abe (AL), 19th hole

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Elway to play in U.S. Senior Open qualifier

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 23, 2018, 10:25 pm

Tony Romo is not the only ex-QB teeing it up against the pros.

Denver Broncos general manager and Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway will try to qualify for the U.S. Senior Open next week, according to the Denver Post.

And why not? The qualifier and the senior major will be held in Colorado Springs at the Broadmoor. Elway is scheduled to tee off May 28 at 12:10 p.m. ET. The top two finishers will earn a spot in the U.S. Senior Open, June 27 to July 1.