COURTESY OF KAPALUA RESORT
Marty Keiter was interviewed by Bob Bubka from PGA Tour Radio during the Mercedes Championships last month. CLICK FOR LARGE
Keiter says 'aloha' after 21 years
Kapalua's longtime head of golf and tennis is moving to Montana, where his daughter lives
he adage "Today is the first day of the rest of your life" has hit home for Marty Keiter.
Because tomorrow is that day, the first day of his new life.
After 20-plus years, today is Keiter's final day as the vice-president of golf and tennis at Kapalua Resort. The 54-year-old and his wife Gail will be moving to Bozeman, Mont.
"It's time to do something different," Keiter said. "I don't know what. I'll see where this adventure takes us.
"I'm fortunate that I don't have to work right away. I love Hawaii but I'm looking forward to a different type of challenge ... without knowing what it is."
Keiter's departure coincides with tomorrow's closure of the Village Course. The new private Mauka Course, scheduled to open at the end of 2009, will incorporate some of the Village's land.
"I've been involved with building new courses but this is the first time I've been closing one," he said. "It's been a lot of work and a lot of people lost jobs. It was hard dealing with that.
"I most likely will stay in the golf business. They're building courses up in Montana but I haven't looked at any jobs yet and won't until I get up there. I'm looking forward to relaxing for a few months."
Keiter, son of legendary sportscaster Les, has been in charge of Kapalua's 54-hole golf facility since 1986. He was at Molokai's Kaluakoi Golf Course and Resort from 1977-85, followed by a year at Kiahuna on Kauai before heading to Maui.
"I persuaded Marty to come over to Kapalua and I've spent the last month trying to persuade him to stay," said Gary Planos, Kapalua's senior vice-president of resort operations. "I've known Marty for 30 years. We played in our first assistants tournament where I hit my first tee shot out of bounds. He was there to witness that, and he's been there to witness many more of those."
At Monday night's aloha party for Keiter, Planos said he had difficulty getting through his planned remarks.
"Marty's been a friend of mine for over 30 years," Planos said. "He has brought a personality to the guest services of the Kapalua Golf Club that will be hard to replace.
"Marty's congeniality with our members, guests and residents has left a lasting impression for the past 20-plus years."
Keiter played golf at the University of Hawaii for one year. But his college athletic career also included playing for the UH junior varsity basketball team under current Louisville coach Rick Pitino, his coach and roommate. Pitino took over the varsity program for the final four games of the 1975-76 season from a scandal-enmeshed Bruce O'Neil.
"It was interesting," Keiter said of his living arrangements. "Rick had just graduated from Massachusetts. You could already tell he was a very intense coach. Then he went to Syracuse as an assistant and the rest is history.
"We've stayed close, talked when Kentucky won the NCAA (title in 1996)."
Keiter's time at UH also included meeting his future wife, Gail Emerson, who was a member of the Wahine golf team. The couple have two children: son Chris is a golf pro on the Big Island, daughter Erica is living in Helena, Mont.
"We haven't seen Erica much since she graduated from high school," Marty Keiter said. "We'll be a lot closer to her now."
His career has been interesting as well as educational, from hosting the PGA's best at the Mercedes Championships to playing with rising LPGA star Morgan Pressel.
And then there's riding in Michael Jordan's jet. Keiter and Jordan have played golf together and, "We became friends," Keiter said. "That's probably the top celebrity I've played with.
"It's been a great run. I've enjoyed it and I'll miss it. But it's exciting to go on an adventure without knowing where it will end."