Randy Cadiente

Off the Fringe

By Randy Cadiente

Sunday, April 22, 2001

Konishiki’s tournament
is all about kids

IMAGINE, IF YOU WILL, retired sumo wrestler Konishiki playing golf. All 400-plus pounds of him.

No way, you say? Way.

In fact, if you hear him tell the story, hanging around a golf course was a childhood pastime of his.

"Actually, when I was young, my brothers used to work at the Barber's Point golf course," he told me over lunch at the Hawaii Prince Hotel on Monday. "And we used to go there and water the grass.

"So when I was in elementary school, first-grade was the first time I experienced playing golf. My dad had bought me a keiki set of clubs and ever since then -- and going to Japan where golf is so big -- I've been involved with it."

A lot of things have changed since Konishiki, who now signs his name, Saleva'a Atisanoe, stepped out of the dohyo. He is doing a lot more TV commercials, has cut a CD and is sought after as a guest speaker by schools as well as big corporations.

And he owns three sets of golf clubs.

"I enjoy playing," he said.

"I like to drive the ball. In fact, the driver, 7, 8 and 9 are my best clubs. My putting's alright . . . not perfect, but OK."

Atisanoe is using golf as a means to call attention to his Konishiki Kids' Foundation's annual charity golf tournament, which will be held at the Hawaii Prince Golf Club on June 28.

A non-profit organization established four years ago, the foundation has sent 35 students and seven adult chaperones to Japan since 1998. The purpose is to provide opportunities for these students to experience culture outside of Hawaii.

"That's one reason (to have a golf tournament)," he said.

"A lot of my friends that support the program are from Japan and they like to golf," he added.

"I guess it's one way to get people involved -- a fun way."

Two years ago, the event raised $35,000; last year, the tournament brought in more than $50,000.

"Hopefully, we'll try to surpass that (this year)," Atisanoe said. "But what we do, we do for the kids."

Atisanoe didn't play in last year's tournament, but is looking forward to playing in June.

His handicap?

"Bad. Don't ask," he said. "I stop counting after 100."

For more information on the tournament, call 294-2979 or 668-6550.

Short putts

The Prince course at the Princeville Resort on Kauai has been ranked the No. 1 course in Hawaii by Golf Digest.

No. 2 is Mauna Kea on the Big Island.

Following the Prince and Mauna Kea on Golf Digest's top courses in Hawaii are: The Koolau course; The Challenge at Manele on Lanai; Kapalua's Plantation course on Maui; the Kauai Lagoons at Kiele; Wailua in Lihue; Princeville's Makai course (Ocean/Lake); The Links at Kuilima; the Makena Resort course at Kihei, Maui; Wailea's Emerald course on Maui; the Poipu Bay Resort on Kauai; Kapalua's Bay course; The Makena Resort's North course on Maui, and Mauna Lani Resort's North course.

Star-Bulletin assistant sports editor Randy Cadiente is a once-a-week hacker who carries a 15-handicap. He can be reached at 529-4785 or:

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