Full Court Press


Sunday, September 23, 2001

Remember 9-11-01

Pro events key if
tourism is to rebound


THE loss of the Ryder Cup this year left a hole in professional golf that won't be adequately filled until Hawaii becomes part of the schedule next month.

Starting with the Senior PGA Tour event in two weeks at the Turtle Bay Hilton, moving to Kauai in November for the PGA Grand Slam of Golf and then to Maui for the Mercedes Championships the first weekend in January, the golf world will soon descend on the island chain.

And it couldn't come at a better time for Hawaii.

In a world gone mad with terrorism, the 50th State provides the perfect setting to help golf fans worldwide forget about life for a while. The picture-postcard courses combined with the high level of talent scheduled to appear here the next several months could help stir tourism during this unpredictable holiday season.

While professional golfers say they are afraid to board a plane bound for Europe and other foreign continents, coming to Hawaii offers a degree of safety the golfers can live with -- at least for now.

The islandwide events are taking a business-as-usual approach. They fully expect these tournaments will go on as planned and not be affected by the recent attacks in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania.

If this holds up -- and that's a big if should America be at war -- island fans will be treated to the likes of Hale Irwin at Turtle Bay, Tiger Woods and David Duval at the Grand Slam of Golf and all the PGA Tour winners for the Mercedes Championships the first weekend of 2002.

And it doesn't end there. The Sony Open, the MasterCard Championship and the Senior Skins are other events scheduled for January that promise to bring the best to our island shores.

The national television exposure that accompanies these popular tournaments can only help the beleaguered tourism industry, which faces several challenges over the next six months.

If Hawaii can demonstrate this is a safe environment, it's possible all these national golf events can get people freezing on the mainland to consider sunning themselves in the islands.

Hopefully, the fear of flying that spread across America like a Stephen King plague, will not force any more postponements or cancellations of major sports events.

Hawaii needs a visible boost. Perhaps professional golf can be the catalyst to get people thinking once more of making that dream vacation.

Paul Arnett has been covering sports
for the Star-Bulletin since 1990.
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