It was a day full of surprises.

On Friday, Sept. 7, the Realtors Association of Maui (RAM) honored three of its members during its annual installation ceremony at the Four Seasons Resort Maui in Wailea. Those members were 2018 Affiliate of the Year Eric Miyajima, 2018 Realtor Broker of the Year Rachel Ball Phillips and 2018 Realtor Salesperson of the Year Jeannie Kong. All three were recognized by RAM for their business and real estate accomplishments, as well as their spirit, character, professionalism and volunteer work.

Like his fellow honorees, Miyajima, vice president and residential loan manager with American Savings Bank, was in a state of disbelief when he heard his name announced that day. “I’ve been to many installation events over the years,” he said. “I never expected them to call my name.”

Miyajima was born in Puunene and is a proud Baldwin High School alumnus. As a kid, he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and learn how to play golf. Needless to say, the sport was a good fit for Miyajima, who quickly proved his mettle on the course as a scratch golfer (according to the U.S. Golf Association, a scratch golfer is “a player who can play to a course handicap of zero on any and all rated golf courses. A male scratch golfer, for rating purposes, can hit tee shots an average of 250 yards and can reach a 470-yard hole in two shots at sea level.”)

After high school, Miyajima headed east to attend the University of Utah, where he played college golf. Not long after earning a degree in business administration, he returned to Maui. It didn’t take long for him to get back into the swing of things—he began coaching high school golf at his alma mater, joined the Hawaii State Junior Golf Association’s board of directors and established the Maui Junior Golf Association (he served as its president for nearly three decades).

Founded in 1960, the Maui Junior Golf Association promotes and fosters the game of golf to youth of all ages and skill levels while eliminating barriers—financial or otherwise. Among other things, the Maui Junior Golf Association teaches youth the fundamentals and etiquette of the game; provides opportunities for leadership development; promotes competition through golf tournaments; and reinforces the values of honesty, integrity, sportsmanship and fellowship. The organization also offers a scholarship program for high school seniors who have excelled academically while actively participating in the game of golf.

It goes without saying that Miyajima has made an indelible mark on the scholarship program. Over the years, he’s helped hundreds of young men and women land scholarships to colleges and universities across the country. Among other things, he has organized golf tournaments and invited college scouts to attend; contacted recruiters on behalf of players; and gone the extra mile (in some cases, literally) to recommend student-athletes for full-ride golf scholarships. It was no small feat, but Miyajima says the time and effort was 100 percent worth it, because he was giving these students an opportunity to succeed—both on and off the golf course.

Miyajima entered the mortgage industry nearly four decades ago, and since then, he’s cultivated a thriving career. He’s assisted thousands of local families with home financing, sharing his depth of experience in affordable mortgage lending, conventional loans, government lending and investment property lending. Miyajima says the greatest reward is seeing his clients achieve their dreams of homeownership—particularly first-time buyers. “It’s a really good feeling,” he said.

As good as a hitting a hole-in-one?

“Definitely,” he said.

To learn more about the Maui Junior Golf Association, visit https://mjga.net/site/ or email mauijuniorgolf@gmail.com.

By Sarah Ruppenthal
Published in The Maui News – October 6, 2018

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