Driving the Golf Ball AND the BMW in KāʻanapaliSeptember 13, 2015, 3:08 PM HST · Updated September 13, 6:51 PM 0 Comments
By Kiaora Bohlool
More than 80 players came to Kāʻanapali Golf Resort from as far away as Canada to compete in what leaders say is likely “the world’s largest amateur tournament” on Saturday, September 12. It’s a regional qualifier for the national championship in October, happening at Pinehurst Golf Course in North Carolina. That’s followed up by the world tournament in South Africa.
The BMW Golf Challenge welcomed all skill levels as a fully-handicapped tournament. In golf, “handicap” is the measure of a golfer’s potential ability. Basically, the lower a golfer’s handicap, the better the golfer is.
In the past, “four participants from Maui have made it on not only to Pinehurst, but also to the international,” says Ed Kageyama, PGA General Manager for Kāʻanapali Golf Courses.
Kāʻanapali is home to Maui’s very first resort golf course, which opened in 1962. “Robert Trent Jones Sr. designed it in the early ’60’s, so it’s very classic in styling,” Kageyama describes. “It is generous off the tee, but it’s really tricky around the greens, so you need to be able to chip and putt on this golf course to do well.”
In addition to sand, hills and water features, golfers encountered more than a few brand-new cars, parked around the course. But this year, there was something different. For the first time, many of the BMWs weren’t only there to admire. A variety of models were on-hand for people to test-drive, as part of BMW’s Ultimate Driving Experience.
“We’ve had the Ultimate Golf Experience over here for six years, and the participants have always asked me, ‘Can we drive these beautiful cars?’ And we haven’t had the facility to do it,” says Dennis Short, BMW Hawai’i General Manager. “So this year we combined it with BMW’s Ultimate Driving Experience, which is done nationally all across America.”
BMW even flew in what are called “Product Knowledge Geniuses” to answer questions and share information about BMW’s modern perks and safety features, like keyless entry, parking and collision sensors, push-button starts, Bluetooth capabilities and reverse cameras with two options.
“Reverse camera, or surround camera where basically it gives you the whole surrounding of the vehicle when you’re reversing, so you can actually see like this side, this side and frontal; the whole view,” explains Brad Aceret, BMW of Honolulu Product Knowledge Genius, who’s a proud BMW owner himself. “It might look sporty on the outside, but very classy on the inside, so it gives you kind of two personalities to the vehicles.”
“BMW has not lost focus of the ultimate driving machine; we don’t profess to be a luxury car, we profess to be a luxury sport sedan,” says Short, who adds performance is priority in the driving experience. “They’re a very, very comfortable car, but more so the way that they drive, and if you ask any customer, or anyone that’s driven a car, the first thing they say is, ‘You know Dennis, I didn’t realize how great these cars drive!’”
“There is nothing finer, I’ve done the research, I love the BMW, “ says Karen Welck of Kāʻanapali, who signed up for a test-drive and describes the cars as “stable” and “luxurious.”
Short says he believes this is the first time anywhere in the U.S. that a golf tournament has been linked to a Driving Experience event. With around 90 test-drives in one afternoon on Maui, it may serve as a model for more match-ups. “This could be the beginning of something big for all the dealerships across the country,” he explains.
Golf competitors had the opportunity to test-drive BMWs after the tournament on Saturday afternoon. And some may have been ready for victory laps! Here’s the rundown of winners from the golf challenge.
Men’s A Flight: Kris Baptist from Maui
Men’s B Flight: Carl Verley from Canada
Ladies: Mira Jang from Oʻahu
All three were first-time winners. They will represent BMW Hawaiʻi in the U.S. Finals at Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina in October, along with Al Kakazu, Soon Sik Jang and Brittany Isobe, all from Oʻahu.