Experiences That Last a Lifetime
But the tournament is also important for host team UH Hilo, which has enjoyed a longstanding relationship with Waikoloa Beach Resort. “Waikoloa is basically their home-away-from home,” says Kevin Ginoza, who is a volunteer coach for UH Hilo while also serving as full time director of golf at Waikoloa Beach Resort. “When the team competes in the Amer Ari each year, it gives them a chance to play with some of the great college players that they will be seeing on TV in the coming years and hopefully inspire them to practice, work hard, and create a good work ethic that will pay off.”
Ginoza himself played for the UH Hilo team (1994-1998), competing in the Amer Ari all four years. “For me it was not only about golf and getting better or playing with great players, it was also about being a part of something bigger,” he says. “I was lucky to make contacts during those years and found a position at Waikoloa, so now I can give back a little.”
Some of the players he competed against who went on to successful careers on the PGA Tour? Jim Furyk, Tiger Woods, Matt Kuchar, Paul Casey. “I played with 2009 U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover at Hapuna when he was a freshman for Clemson,” he recalls.
Other top players who have competed in the Amer Ari over the years include Notah Begay, Anthony Kim, and in recent years Aaron Wise, C.T. Pan, Jon Rahm, and Cameron Tringale, all of whom have been making noise on the professional levels.
Those are experiences that last a lifetime, and without the Amer Ari Tournament being hosted at Waikoloa Beach Resort, they’d be difficult experiences for local college players to find.
For the visiting teams, it’s a different experience altogether. Coach Martin — who participated in the tournament during his college years at Stanford University — describes it like this: “The Amer Ari has a laid back feel because we are in Hawai`i and the weather is always perfect. But beneath the fun and enjoyment of the vacation feel there is a big-time golf tournament with some of the best amateur golfers in the world participating. I loved my experience back in the early 1990s. We loved coming to Hawai`i and made some lifelong memories during my times competing at Waikoloa.”