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Bill Kwon

Sports Watch

By Bill Kwon

Tuesday, May 4, 1999



Golf can be a
lifetime love affair

AFTER Michael Jordan retired, the only place you can catch him for a sound bite these days is on a golf course.

When John Elway made it official Sunday that he won't be seeking a Super Bowl three-peat with the Denver Broncos, he said one of the things he would do during his retirement is work on his golf game.

Even President Bill Clinton is enamored of the game, although he has been known to take a mulligan or two. Presidential privilege, you know.

It reminds me of the time I talked to Steve Bartkowski, the former Atlanta Falcons' quarterback.

"I only play football to support my golf habit," he told me.

There's another ex-Falcon who just loves the game. It's University of Hawaii head football coach June Jones.

His predecessor, Fred vonAppen, thought golf was a waste of a good walk. He didn't care for the smoozing that went along with golf.

Bob Wagner loved golf better than he could play it. The best two golfers on his staff were Paul Johnson and Mike Sewak, who are now swinging away at Georgia Southern.

Dick Tomey, who went on to coach the Arizona Wildcats, probably spent the most time at the Waialae Country Club links of all the UH football coaches.

But give Jones time. Without question, he's the best golfer of them all. He's a 3-handicapper who hits a long ball.

THANKS to Jones, the Na Koa golf benefit last Tuesday at Hickam's Mamala Bay course was a rousing success. The event raised more than $30,000 for the Rainbow football team

Jones didn't play. But he hit a tee shot for all 64 of the 3-person teams and they used about 70 percent of his drives.

Baseball coach Les Murakami is a regular member at Waialae. But, unlike UH basketball coaches Riley Wallace and Vince Goo, who put away their sticks during the season, Murakami will get in a round even if his 'Bows are practicing that night.

Wahine volleyball coach Dave Shoji plays to a single-digit handicap at the Oahu Country Club. And he's such a golf nut that he collects autographed golf balls from the game's leading pros.

They all have nothing on veteran UCLA men's volleyball coach Al Scates. He'll line up a round of golf even if his Bruins are playing that night. With 17 national titles to his credit, who's complaining?

Apparently, golf is strictly a form of recreation for Scates. He's a still hacker for all of the amount of time he plays at some of the best golf courses in Los Angeles.

THAT'S what makes golf the great game it is.

It's a demanding sport in which you can earn millions of dollars as Tiger Woods, David Duval and Davis Love III have done. Those who have to use a golf cart need not apply since it then doesn't make it a sport.

It's an ATM cash cow, life's ultimate mulligan, for those on the Senior PGA Tour.

It's a tough test of skills for top amateurs who literally are just that - playing in tournaments for the love of the game and the competition.

And it's a great recreational and social pastime, albeit sometimes frustrating, for the majority of those who spend time on the links, yours truly included.

I was fortunate to have been introduced to golf years ago by Bill Gee, a former Star-Bulletin assistant sports editor.

"If you're a sportswriter, you've got to play golf," he said as he took me to Moanalua, the second oldest golf course west of the Rockies.

Never mind that I took a 14 on the first hole. What a great legacy he left me.



Bill Kwon has been writing
about sports for the Star-Bulletin since 1959.



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