It’s looking like final rounds for Aloha Season
Now that Hawaii has finally attracted the top LPGA Tour players on a regular basis, the winter tournaments that were a part of the Aloha Season are in jeopardy.
Fields officially ended its three-year relationship the moment after winner Paula Creamer lowered the trophy late Saturday afternoon before a large gallery packed around the picturesque 18th green.
The Ko Olina Resort -- which gives up a tidy sum in potential revenue to play host -- will likely lose this event in favor of a new tournament on Maui this October that still lacks a title sponsor itself.
The SBS Open is in the final year of its deal to open the LPGA Tour season at Turtle Bay, a resort that's in bankruptcy. Throw in the likelihood that the Champions Tour event at Turtle Bay is done as well with the Big Island tournament also lacking a title sponsor and you get the idea that the Aloha Season is going bye-bye.
Perhaps having seven major golf events in Hawaii in a two-month span challenged the checkbook of local sports fans in a market where the Sugar Bowl had already emptied many a bank account.
You throw in the Hawaii Bowl, the Pro Bowl and the Hula Bowl, and you can see how difficult it is for a million people to support so many events in such a short time frame.
The problem is, folks are packing up the carnival and leaving town. It's likely Oahu will lose a senior and women's event with Kapalua securing its new 72-hole tournament to keep the LPGA Tour's presence in the islands at a popular destination.
Kauai could use an event after losing the Grand Slam tournament to Bermuda, but it would likely be a Champions Tour offering, and that's a tougher sell than having Tiger Woods stopping by on a regular basis.
With a bit of luck, the Champions Tour will find a suitable replacement for the MasterCard Championship. After sponsoring the event for a dozen years, the credit card company cashed out, leaving Hualalai Resort on the Big Island without a title sponsor. That puts the winners-only event in limbo, but the general feeling is that tournament will remain where it is.
OK, that one will be saved, but the Turtle Bay Championship is over.
While the women drew good crowds at the SBS Open -- and why wouldn't they with such a strong field -- the old boys don't have enough drawing power to overcome the down and distance of driving to the northern tip of Oahu.
To folks from the mainland, an 80-mile round trip to watch the best golfers in the world at all three major levels is no big deal. But if you call the leeward coast home -- and last time they checked, that's where everybody lives -- you might as well be packing for a trip to Mars.
Only the heartiest of souls are willing to take a cab ride from the hotel to the first hole, and then have to bring an umbrella, jacket, rain coat, hat, what have you, in the 4 hours it takes to walk 18 holes in the wilderness.
THE KO OLINA RESORT capitalized on having Michelle Wie in the field and ideal weather all week to draw large galleries, but by Saturday the last two groups were the center of attention. It would be nice if the SBS folks in South Korea signed a new deal that took the event to Ko Olina, but there are a lot of variables to any equation.
The Pro Bowl is in its final year as well, and it doesn't take a genius to see the Mercedes and Sony are also feeling their way, waiting to see what the PGA Tour might do to shuffle the lineup. Right now, everything being held at the same time isn't working. Time for Plan B and make it quick.
Sports Editor Paul Arnett
has been covering sports for the Star-Bulletin since 1990. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org