Olomana Golf Club closes indefinitely, at risk for long-term damage following storm

Updated: Apr. 17, 2018 at 5:20 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - This weekend's massive storm couldn't have come at a worse time for the Olomana Golf Club.

After owners of the course reportedly failed to make payments on their lease, to both their vendors and employees, the club abruptly shut its doors on Friday.

By Saturday night, multiple fairways and greens on the course had flooded, with no one to tend to them. Now, the damage caused by the storm could cause long-term damage to grass – and jeopardize the future of the course.

"They had a string of bad luck with the weather on weekends, and the golf courses weren't as busy as they could be," said Casey Nakama, who used to run his junior golf program at the course. "But as a golf course owner, you have to put enough funding in to weather the rough times. Obviously, they weren't able to do that."

Nakama says employees at Olomana were informed by owners on Thursday night the course could be shut down in the near future. By Friday, he and his co-workers arrived at the course to discover it had already been shut down – and that they would not be receiving paychecks.

The course fell deeper into financial trouble when Jay Hinazumi, who helped supply the course with electric golf carts, had to reclaim them after the owners went "a couple of months" without receiving proper payment.

"They had become somewhat past due on their monthly payments," said Hinazumi. "So, my option was to offer them several options and they failed to meet my requirements."

Hinazumi says the decision to pull the carts was difficult, as he's long been a supporter of youth and amateur golf. Financially, though, he says he had no choice.

"You know my involvement in the sport, promoting it from an amateur level," said Hinazumi. "The last thing I want to see is us losing opportunities for any golfer. These courses are part of our lifeline."

The impact of the club's financial straits doesn't end at Hinazumi.

Nakama says about 30 employees at the course are now out of work, even though he counts himself as one of the lucky ones. Not long after Olomana closed, Pearl Country Club approached him. They say they'll allow him to teach his 180+ students at their golf club until they can find a permanent residence.

For now, Nakama says his concern has turned toward the course itself. While water from the flood has run off, mud and debris continue to cover multiple fairways on the course. He fears that the damage the mud will soon cause to the grass will scare off anyone potentially interested in reopening the course.

The damage, though, could have been much worse. After the storm passed Nakama says a group of his student's parents stepped up where the grounds crew was prohibited to and cleaned off the greens at a number of wholes. He estimates to re-landscape those greens could cost up to $55,000.

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