Young golfers will soon play for free at Oahu municipal golf courses

It’s long been associated as a sport for the wealthy or privileged, but golf will soon be made available to anyone on Oahu under the age of 18.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell plans sign into law a bill that allows junior golfers to tee it up for free on Oahu’s municipal courses.

According to man behind the proposal, the change will actually save thousands of dollars of your money.

Come July 1, junior golfers on Oahu will likely go from paying $19 a round to nothing on city courses, thanks to a bill proposed by Honolulu City Councilman Trevor Ozawa that was recently passed by the full city council.

“(It was) just something to give back to the community, give back to the juniors that may not otherwise have access to golf. Golf is often seen as a privileged sport, but I for one could attest that it is not,” Ozawa said.

Ozawa says he grew up playing at Ala Wai Golf Course, and he wants the next generation of kids to have that same opportunity.

According to city records, junior golfers played 3,036 rounds last year at a cost of $19 per round, which adds up to $57,687 in lost revenue.

To make up for it, the city is raising the fee by $10 for players who don’t have a city golf ID card. Ozawa says the majority of those players come from out of state.

“So really then, it’s a program subsidized by visitors?” KHON2 asked.

“Pretty much, and you know right here in Ala Wai is the lion’s share of the rounds to begin with,” Ozawa said, “so that’s the great thing about this bill. It’s actually a revenue enhancement.”

Last year, there were 7,522 rounds played by those without a city ID card. At $10 more a pop, the city would generate an additional $75,220 in revenue.

So even after free golf for juniors, the net increase in revenue to the city based on last year’s numbers would be $17,533.

For those who aim to grow the game, the value is measured in more than just dollars.

“I think the perception through a lot of people’s lens is that that golf is an elitist sport,” said Wes Wailehua, executive director, PGA Aloha Section, but “I think the more the juniors can be out here, and have the opportunity to play and learn the game and develop life skills is just as impactful for the game and for the islands for local kids, and anything we can do to support local activity for the kids is something we need to do in Hawaii.”

Of course, if more young players pick up the game now, they’ll likely keep paying to play once they turn 18.

If you have a city golf ID card, or if you’re a senior, there will be no change in greens fees.

Click here to learn how and where to go to get a free ID card.

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