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Hawaii Strong: Longtime golf instructor finds a way to keep Koolau Golf Club in use

Published: Jun. 18, 2021 at 12:42 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 18, 2021 at 5:00 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Kevin Ralbovsky has operated his golf academy out of the Koolau Golf Club for nearly 20 years.

But when the course’s managing company ended its lease after nearly three decades, the longtime instructor had to figure out his next move.

“I had to make some quick decisions about what I was gonna do,” Ralbovksy said.

“It’s either stay or leave and I looked at it as maybe an opportunity to have the academy, my golf school be basically a standalone operation.”

The land’s owner, First Presbyterian Church, allowed Ralbovsky to keep the KMR School of Golf on the course. However, that meant the longtime pro and instructor would need to learn a completely different aspect of the sport ― course maintenance.

“I teach golf and I’ve been in the golf business in various roles, but I never mowed a fairway or a green before,” Ralbovsky said.

With classes cancelled during the COVID shutdowns, Ralbovksy and a crew of three dove right in, using that time to mow the fairways and maintain the bunkers.

It was an investment of sweat and financial equity.

“I’m probably now around the $40,000 mark and it started slowly,” Ralbovsky said. “It’s a piece of equipment here. It’s a piece of equipment there, the mowers, everything was kind of gradual.”

As shutdowns ceased, Ralbovsky saw a spike in enrollment. So when he’s not teaching, he’s taking care of the front nine, which his students use as a practice course.

It’s unclear what the club’s owners have planned in the long run, but Ralbovsky is committed to keeping this scenic locale vibrant.

“This is the one thing that maybe separates me from past management here is that the level I care about this place and the fact that I’m hands on in terms of caring for it,” Ralbovsky said.

“It makes it that much more special and it makes me work that much harder.”

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