KAPAAU — The fairways are ready to roll at Kohala Golf Park, a long-term community volunteer effort that began earlier this year.
The 1,080-yard walking course will officially open to the public Dec. 2 with an open house from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and a charity golf tournament from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with registration beginning at 9:30 a.m.
“There are only 45 spots available to play in the one-club tournament,” Deborah Imonti said, the golf park’s project leader. “I would suggest players get to the course early, but folks are welcome to play golf after the tournament at 1:30 p.m.”
It is the only golf course north of Mauna Kea Resort on the west side of the island.
Beginning Dec. 3, Kohala Golf Park will be open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, closed Mondays for maintenance. The fee is a bargain at just $12 per adult for unlimited play the same day, or free for keiki 16 and under.
Over the last four months, volunteers have been whipping the course into shape, refurbishing the six original holes. Three additional holes are in the works to make it a 9-hole course. The bathroom has been remodeled, trees trimmed around the property, scrap junk equipment removed and an entry road cleaned up.
“We were very fortunate earlier this month when Hilton Grand Vacations (HGV) selected Kohala Golf Park for their annual community service event. They cut fairways, greens and palm trees, painted the clubhouse inside and out, donated two SCAG mowers and much more,” Imonti said. “It was mind blowing. Over 47 employees showed up, plus Kelly’s Tree Service sent eight employees to cut trees, mulch and chip.”
Formerly known as King Kamehameha Golf Center, the project is sponsored by North Kohala Community Resource Center (NKCRC).
The shortest hole on the par-3 course is 75 yards and the longest is approximately 175. A practice putting green is in the works currently. The three additional holes are laid out and ready to build if additional funds are raised.
About 10 local residents have contributed to the project from the beginning.
“We cut the fairways and greens and do most of the work ourselves as we are working off of limited funds,” Imonti said. “We have received many donations and have enough to build a new putting green. We’ve also been gifted three SCAG mowers, two green mowers, an aerator, two used weed whackers and two Weber barbecues for future events. HGV also donated furniture and mirrors to update the clubhouse and bathrooms, and more equipment will be donated soon. We have come a long way.”
Volunteers will continue to cut and trim the course on Mondays, with assistance from Aikane Nursery to shape the golf course.
To date, Kohala Golf Park has received more than $12,000 in monetary donations and needs an additional $15,000 to build the three new holes. Volunteers are seeking donated gravel, sand and soil to do so.
“The course is in the process of being converted from six holes to nine holes, each with a forward tee box and a back tee box,” Imonti said. “All holes will be par 3, some with nice views of the ocean and some with views of Kohala volcano. It will be a good place for families to play, and for those new to the sport to practice their game.”
Kohala Golf Park is a walking course, with no carts available presently.
“We do hope to obtain a cart or two in the future for those who would have trouble walking the course,” Imonti said. “We are also still fund raising and memberships are for sale.”
The annual membership rate for unlimited play is $600 per person, now through 2018. Seniors over 55 have a reduced rate of $500 and a two-person family for $1,000 annually.
The volunteer committee plans to find a grounds keeper who will also run day-to-day operations in the shop, where check ins take place, golf balls are sold and clubs rented. In the future they plan to add water, soda and snacks to the shop if solar power or a generator can be donated for needed electricity.
“Kohala Golf Club was created to attract seasoned golfers, young and old, and new golfers. We look forward to getting the schools involved to set up a high school golf team in the future,” Imonti said. “We have a PGA pro, Mark Sommers, who will be our instructor for the course.”
The cost to play in the Dec. 2 tournament is $20 per person. To register or make a donation, call 880-1550 or email email@example.com.