Driving the Golf Ball AND the BMW in Kāʻanapali

September 13, 2015, 3:08 PM HST · Updated September 13, 6:51 PM
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 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.

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    Kris Baptist of Maui was Men's A Champion in the 2015 BMW Golf Challenge. He qualified to compete in the U.S. Finals in Pinehurst, NC. Photo by Kāʻanapali Golf Resort.

    Kris Baptist of Maui was Men’s A Champion in the 2015 BMW Golf Challenge. He qualified to compete in the U.S. Finals in Pinehurst, NC.
    Photo by Kāʻanapali Golf Resort.

    Carl Verley from Canada, Men's B Champion in the BMW Golf Challenge, who qualified for the national championship. Photo by Kāʻanapali Golf Resort.

    Carl Verley from Canada, Men’s B Champion in the BMW Golf Challenge, who qualified for the national championship. Photo by Kāʻanapali Golf Resort.

    Mira Jang from O'ahu was the Ladies winner in the BMW Golf Challenge on Maui. She'll move on to the national championship in North Carolina. Photo by Kāʻanapali Golf Resort.

    Mira Jang from O’ahu was the Ladies winner in the BMW Golf Challenge on Maui. She’ll move on to the national championship in North Carolina. Photo by Kāʻanapali Golf Resort.

    Ed Kageyama, PGA General Manager at Kāʻanapali Golf Courses. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

    Ed Kageyama, PGA General Manager at Kāʻanapali Golf Courses. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

    Dennis Short, president of BMW Hawai'i. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

    Dennis Short, president of BMW Hawai’i. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

    Player in the BMW Golf Challenge in Kāʻanapali. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

    Player in the BMW Golf Challenge in Kāʻanapali. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

    A player tees off on Kāʻanapali Golf Course for the BMW Golf Challenge. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

    A player tees off on Kāʻanapali Golf Course for the BMW Golf Challenge. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

    Kāʻanapali Golf Course. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

    Kāʻanapali Golf Course. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

    Cars showcased at Kāʻanapali Golf Course for the BMW Golf Challenge. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

    Cars showcased at Kāʻanapali Golf Course for the BMW Golf Challenge. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

    Brad Aceret, BMW of Honolulu "Product Knowledge Genius" educates drivers during the BMW Golf Challenge. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

    Brad Aceret, BMW of Honolulu “Product Knowledge Genius” educates drivers during the BMW Golf Challenge. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

    BMWs lined up for test-drives at the BMW Golf Challenge and Ultimate Driving Experience in Kāʻanapali. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

    BMWs lined up for test-drives at the BMW Golf Challenge and Ultimate Driving Experience in Kāʻanapali. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

    Karen Welck of Kāʻanapali, interested in test-driving one of the BMW 4 Series. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

    Karen Welck of Kāʻanapali, interested in test-driving one of the BMW 4 Series. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

    Team Hawaii, who qualified on Maui to compete in the U.S. finals at Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina next month. From left to right: Ed Kageyama (Pro Division), Ashley Short (Dealer Division, Pinehurst defending champion), Brittany Isobe, Carl Verley, Kris Baptist (from Maui), Soon Sik Jang, Al Kakazu and BMW Hawaii President Dennis Short. Photo by Kāʻanapali Golf Resort.

    Team Hawaii, who qualified on Maui to compete in the U.S. finals at Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina next month. From left to right: Ed Kageyama (Pro Division), Ashley Short (Dealer Division, Pinehurst defending champion), Brittany Isobe, Carl Verley, Kris Baptist (from Maui), Soon Sik Jang, Al Kakazu and BMW Hawaii President Dennis Short. Photo by Kāʻanapali Golf Resort.

    BMW on the course in Kāʻanapali, for a first-of-its- kind dual event, the BMW Golf Challenge and Ultimate Driving Experience. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

    BMW on the course in Kāʻanapali, for a first-of-its- kind dual event, the BMW Golf Challenge and Ultimate Driving Experience. Photo by Kiaora Bohlool.

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    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.

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