WHEN it was an open tournament -- meaning both pros and amateurs included -- the Navy-Marine event ranked among the local majors.
The first champion in 1951 was colorful Kalakaua pro Barrett Melvin, who merits consideration as a nominee for the Hawaii Golf Hall of Fame next year.
Other past N-M champions Guinea Kop, Jimmy Ukauka, Paul Scodeller, Owen Douglass and Allan Yamamoto all are Hall of Fame members.
No, I haven't forgotten that the late Ted Makalena also won the Navy-Marine Open, which had been a 72-hole tournament until 1980, when it was 54 holes for amateurs only.
Makalena deserves a paragraph of his own because the 1957 Navy-Marine Open was his first victory as a professional. He went on to become the first local golfer to win a PGA Tour event with his victory in the 1966 Hawaiian Open.
Lance Suzuki won in 1984-85, when the pros were invited back. But it has been the N-M Invitational, minus the pros. since 1986.
Not that the amateur champions have been slouches, mind you.
Among the simon-pure winners are Stan Souza, who just turned pro again, Brandan Kop, Damien Jamila and last year's champion, Jim Seki, who had to skip the event because it conflicted with the state high school tournament.
JUST GR-r-r-EAT: The Hawaii State Junior Golf Association - with a big boost from the Aloha Section PGA - launches an ambitious statewide program for young golfers with free instructional clinics this month called, "Fore The Love Of The Game."
Twenty Oahu golf courses, in addition to the Ala Wai and Newtown driving ranges, will open their facilities to youngsters, ages 8 to 18. A number of golf courses on Kauai, Maui and the Big Island will do the same for youngsters on their respective neighbor islands.
The 1-hour sessions will focus on basic instructions, rules and etiquette.
Space is limited, so juniors must call the HSJGA's Oahu office at 532-0559 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to sign up. In order to provide opportunities for as many as possible, juniors are requested to sign up for only one clinic.
A complete list of golf courses, the number of openings and assigned professional instructors was published in yesterday's Star-Bulletin.
All of the golf courses are to be commended for providing their facilities and professional instructors. It's a win-win situation for golf in Hawaii.
NOENOE INVITATIONAL: Members of the Big Island's Noenoe Golf Club will host the 25th invitational tournament May 29-30 at the Volcano Golf and Country Club course. The tournament is open to men and women 18 and older with an established USGA handicap (maximum 35 for men, 40 for women).
Jamie Matsukawa of Hilo is the defending low-gross champion for the women, while Frank Jordan of Honolulu will defend the men's title. Entry fee is $100 ($80 for Volcano Golf CC members). Entry forms are available at most golf courses. For additional information and lodging brochure, telephone Sandra Gray at (808) 935-6155. Deadline is May 13.
NOW AT WAIKELE: Parris Ernst, who started the Pacific Golf Academy on Nimitz Highway, joined the Waikele Golf Club as its new teaching pro. Ernst has taught in Hawaii since 1989 at the Mid-Pacific Country Club, the Minami Golf Course (now Koolau Golf Club) and Ewa Beach International. "Parris brings extensive knowledge of the game and various techniques to Waikele," said Mel Nagata, Waikele's director of golf.