On a bright summer morning in 1987, a group of golfers gathered on the greens of Kapalua Resort’s Bay and Village Courses for the first annual Kapalua Clambake Pro-Am Invitational. They didn’t know it at the time, but these golfers created a lasting legacy that day.
Now in its 33rd year, the Kapalua Clambake Pro-Am Invitational will take place Friday, June 21 through Sunday, June 23 on the Troon-managed Kapalua Golf’s award-winning Bay Course and the King Kamehameha Golf Club in Waikapu. The annual three-day event was masterminded by Rob Shelton of Island Sotheby’s International Realty’s West Maui office and fellow golfer Rod Sayles in 1987. As they mapped out a long-term plan for the then-fledgling tournament, Sayles suggested it double as a fundraiser for Special Olympics Maui; Shelton wholeheartedly agreed.
Special Olympics Maui provides year-round sports training and competitions to children and adults with developmental disabilities and there is never a fee to any athlete or family to participate in the program. Eventually, the Kapalua Clambake Pro-Am Invitational added a second beneficiary: The Lahainaluna High School golf program. “It’s all about giving back to others and this event allows us to do that in a very special way,” Shelton explained. “Special Olympics Maui is such a positive experience for those who participate and the Lahainaluna High School golf program is flourishing because of community support. We are just a small part of their overall needs, but it is certainly satisfying to assist their efforts.”
Shelton, who continues to serve on the organizing committee for the 2019 tournament, has seen the Aloha Section PGA-sanctioned event succeed since its inception in 1987. Sponsored by Troon Golf, this year’s tournament will look a little different. The formats will be switched up a bit and there is also a change of venue: Kapalua Golf’s Plantation Course is currently undergoing a multimillion-dollar enhancement, so the King Kamehameha Golf Club will host the first round on Friday. “Scott Carroll, Rick Castillo, Guy Nishimura and their staff [at King Kamehameha Golf Club] have been very accommodating and I know our participants will really enjoy their experience there,” Shelton said. Round two will take place the following day at Kapalua’s Bay Course; the Clambake Horse Race will be held that afternoon. The third and final round will also take place on Sunday at the Bay Course.
There will also be closest-to-the-pin competitions, a putting contest, tournament tee gifts, and a special on-course lunch experience (the putting contest and closest-to-the-pin competitions will raise funds for the two beneficiaries).
And the fun doesn’t end at the 18th hole. Following the final round on Sunday, there will be a luncheon and awards presentation for tournament participants on the front lawn of the Bay Course clubhouse (non-participants can purchase individual lunch tickets for $60). A silent auction to benefit Special Olympics Maui will also be held that afternoon in the hallway of the Bay Course clubhouse. “The Sunday awards program will be catered by Chris Kaiwi and his staff at Taverna,” Shelton said. “Besides the silent auction, we will have great food and music. Prizes will also be awarded on Sunday and there may be a few surprises, too. Overall awards will be team-focused, and of course, we will have some individual awards for on-course competitions held throughout the event. Our hand-carved Koa trophies are inspiring and always a big hit.”
The same can be said for the tournament itself.
“Year after year, we see familiar faces who come back to support the event,” Shelton said. “We have a proven format and Kapalua is a world-class destination that everyone really enjoys.”
For more information about the 2019 Kapalua Clambake Pro-Am Invitational or to inquire about sponsorship opportunities, visit https://golfatkapalua.com/kapalua_clambake or contact Bay Course Head Golf Professional and Kapalua Clambake Tournament Chairperson Steve Sanchez at (877) 527-2582 or Rob Shelton at 281-4024.
By Sarah Ruppenthal
The Maui News – June 1, 2019