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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Wailuku golf course could be reopening

By Andrew Gomes
Advertiser Staff Writer

Maui's shuttered Grand Waikapu Country Club may be restored by its new owner who yesterday took over the Wailuku golf course and its sister, the Sandalwood Golf Course.

Makoto Kaneko, head of a Japan-based engineering firm, completed the purchase for $12.5 million from an affiliate of Japanese firm Fukuoka Jisho.

Kaneko named former Wailea Resort Co. chief Karl Uesugi to head golf operations as president of MMK Maui LP, a company formed for the transaction.

In a statement, Uesugi said all 70 employees were retained, and the property, including a clubhouse based on a Frank Lloyd Wright design, presents exciting opportunities. "It can be anticipated that as we move forward, we will look to expand the golf course and banquet businesses, and to make major improvements to the property," he said.

Plans are still being formed, said Dwayne Wada, company comptroller. He said reopening the Grand Waikapu, closed since 1999, is a possibility.

Uesugi, a native of Japan, has been involved in golf course development on the Mainland and in Hawai'i, where he helped develop Koolau Golf Club before joining Wailea Resort in 1993.

Kaneko is president and founder of Zuken Inc., a publicly traded engineering firm with about 600 employees globally.

The Wailuku golf courses were built in 1991 by a partnership of developers from Japan and Hawai'i as part of an envisioned residential community on adjacent property that wasn't built.

Reach Andrew Gomes at agomes@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8065.