Despite pandemic challenges, Sony Open tees off ― and raises funds for charity

Updated: Jan. 14, 2021 at 5:36 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - In a normal year, more than 70,000 people pass through Waialae Country Club for the Sony Open. Huge crowds throughout the course are a common sight.

But this isn’t a normal year.

Instead, the pandemic means no gallery and no vendors. It also took much more work to get the event up and running compared to previous tourneys.

“Every time there was an event on the PGA this summer, we would talk to the tournament directors on the staff the next week,” said Sony Open tournament director Ray Stosik.

“What did they do? What did they do different? How do they package their food? What were the protocols in and around the dining areas and or the golf course? So we’ve been fortunate that we were able to see about 15 or 20 events before coming to the Sony Open this week.”

Chief among the hurdles in setting the event up was installing a rigorous testing and safety protocol for golfers, caddies, family members, and support staff.

The Sony Open generates about $6 million in annual revenue.

This year, they’ll make about 30% of that.

But thanks to generous donations, the tourney will still meet its fundraising goal of $1.2 million for Friends of Hawaii Charities.

Pasha Hawaii contributed a significant portion.

“We all support one another through good times and very challenging times like COVID and when tough times come, it’s more important and to provide support to a lot of different organizations because if we don’t they’re not gonna be around,” said Laurie Lagrange, of Pasha Hawaii.

The Sony is part two of a three-week PGA circuit in Hawaii.

Pros were out at Kapalua last week and a PGA Tour Champions event will soon be at Hualalai. While the action can’t be enjoyed in person, Stosik hopes it leaves an impression with fans to make a later trip.

“We hope that when times are safe for them to travel, they’ll be fresh to remember the natural beauty and the aloha spirit that they see during the events here,” Stosik said.

And for those that planned on sneaking a glimpse through Kahala’s side streets, the tournament has installed mesh barriers around the course to curb large gatherings.

Instead, the full event can be seen on The Golf Channel.

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