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Monday, October 2, 2000

Ala Wai golfers
angry over
course closing

The governor says the
land will instead be used
for Waikiki revitalization

By Treena Shapiro

Golfers in the Mayor's Cup Tournament at the Ala Wai Golf Course yesterday were irate over Gov. Benjamin Cayetano's plans to close the popular Waikiki golf course for redevelopment.

The city-run golf course sits on state-owned land by executive order.

At a meeting of the Japan-Hawaii Economic Council on Maui on Saturday, Cayetano said he planned to issue an executive order by the end of the month to close the golf course and use the land to further the revitalization of Waikiki.

Some 176,000 rounds of golf a year are played at the Ala Wai, urban Oahu's only municipal course.

"This is the busiest golf course in the country and they want to close it?" Brian Pang asked incredulously, as he turned around to display his Ala Wai golf course T-shirt.

Pang, 46, who golfs once a week, said that Cayetano would have to find an alternate location.

Earlier this year, Cayetano suggested turning the golf course into a park and constructing a new course at Sand Island.

He said Saturday that the land's use will be determined by a special "visioning team" that he will assemble with Mayor Jeremy Harris.

"Sand Island looks like a nice place," Pang said. "Got the ocean."

But at least one expressed concern that seniors who can reach the Waikiki course easily by bus may not be able to get out to Sand Island.

Bill Echmann, 55, of Kaneohe, said he doesn't believe Cayetano's motive is really improving Waikiki.

"I think he's going out of office. I think he's going to make a lot of money from this deal," he said.

The Ala Wai Golf Course is "a longstanding landmark in Waikiki," Echmann said.

"He's not doing this for the residents."

Barry Sato, 39, of Kahaluu, put it simply. "He's an idiot," he said.

"Why he goin' take away something like this when it's been here for so long?"

E-mail to City Desk

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