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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, January 26, 2002

Mililani golf course, two others to close

By Dan Nakaso
Advertiser Staff Writer

The Japanese owner of the Mililani, Pukalani and Kiahuna golf courses notified state officials yesterday that it plans to close all three at the end of March and fire its 167 employees.

Officials with Tokyo-based Sports Shinko yesterday would not discuss whether they are talking to interested buyers. Sports Shinko put two of the clubs up for sale early last year — Pukalani Country Club, on the slopes of Maui's Haleakala, and the Kiahuna Golf Club, on Kaua'i's south shore.

Yesterday, company officials notified the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations that it planned to close all three courses after March 27 and fire the clubs' staffs.

Sports Shinko acquired the courses during the Japanese investment boom in Hawai'i during the late 1980s. The company primarily operates golf courses in Japan, but also owns the 314-room Queen Kapi'olani Hotel, 450-room Ocean Resort Hotel Waikiki, La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, Calif., and Grenelefe Golf & Tennis Resort in Orlando, Fla.

The Mililani, Pukalani and Kiahuna courses are private but open to the public on a pay-for-play basis.

Paul Sugimoto, executive director of the Aloha Section Professional Golfers' Association, said he plays three or four times each year at Mililani. He said the course was popular with local players and seemed to be in good condition.

"It seems to me that they're getting enough people to play," Sugimoto said.

The Mililani course is the site of the Shinko Rainbow Open, which has been won by 'Aiea's David Ishii, the 1990 Hawaiian Open champion.

Sports Shinko has been focusing on Japanese tourists and local players at all three courses, said Satoshi Kinoshita, the executive vice president of Sports Shinko.

"We have been making efforts to make golfers satisfied and offer good play at all three courses," Kinoshita said. "We are devoting our lives to make a satisfactory, good experience for players."

Advertiser sports editor Curtis Murayama contributed to this report.

Reach Dan Nakaso at dnakaso@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8085.