HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - For nearly 25 years the Olomana golf course in Waimanalo has been home to the Casey Nakama Golf Development Center. It was here that many local youth shaped their game and grew to become so of Hawai’i’s best.
Former professional golfer Casey Nakama started the academy in 1995, and the list of professional golfers who came through the program in Waimanalo is a “who’s who” of former greats.
“Tad Fujikawa, Stephanie Kono, Michelle Wie, and Dean Wilson use to come practice with us.” Nakama said. “It’s hard to put into words the impact that this place has had.”
After a lengthy career on the professional circuit Nakama went into teaching and it was through an old sponsorship that he came to acquire the space in east Oahu.
“My association with the golf course was with the Mizuno family who previously owned the course for 30 years,” said Nakama. “After I stopped traveling and started teaching they said Casey do your thing right here.”
Nakama’s academy grew to be one of the premiere classes in the state. But this Wednesday their contract with the course and it’s new owners will expire and the academy will be moved to other golf facilities around Oahu.
The academy will now hold classes at Bay View in Kaneohe, Pearl Country Club in Aiea, and Mililani Golf Club.
Professional golfer Cyd Okino is one of the many who grew up learning at the academy in Waimanalo.
“This is where I started my entire career," Okino said. "This is where I started from six and a half years old and this is where I was introduced to golf.”
The closing of Waimanalo is bitter sweet for Nakama who reflects back on his over two decades at Olomana with appreciation for a place that gave him so much.
“I learned how to play golf here," said Nakama. "I love this place and I’m going to miss it.”