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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, December 14, 2006

Change coming to Olomana

 •  Shortcut brings long ace

By Bill Kwon

Norman-Ganin Asao, left, will take over for Lloyd Nakama as director of golf at Olomana Golf Links.

DEBORAH BOOKER | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Lloyd Nakama, the outgoing director of golf at the Olomana Golf Links, typically downplayed the change that will come to the course in 2007.

To Nakama, the news of note about the changing of the guard at the Waimanalo golf course is that Norman-Ganin Asao will be his successor, not the fact Nakama is retiring after 25 years there.

Those who know Nakama well aren't surprised by his response. And no one knows him better than his first cousin, Casey Nakama, who has run an instruction program for young golfers at Olomana since 1997.

"Lloyd is one of the nicest persons I know. He's always upbeat and positive," said Casey, who took up golf only after graduating from Moanalua High School in 1976.

Who gave Casey his first golf lesson?

Who else?

"He's still a strong influence on the way I teach," added Casey, who has around 200 "Casey's Kids" in his program. "He's so pro junior golf."

Not only did Lloyd Nakama open up Olomana's practice facilities to young golfers, he suggested to Casey that he start his weekend sessions later in the day so that more advanced students could play the golf course in the late afternoons when it's not as busy.

"It made a big difference how the program caught on," said Casey, whose students have included Michelle Wie, Cyd Okino, Bradley Shigezawa, Stephanie Kono and Tadd Fujikawa.

Despite the retirement of Lloyd, who will be 59 on Jan. 5, the transition will be seamless for Casey's program.

Asao, 26, is one of Casey's instructors along with Lance Suzuki, a Hawai'i Hall of Fame golfer.

"We're lucky to have him," Lloyd said about Asao, a former University of Hawai'i golfer.

Asao, who had been working part-time at Olomana since his UH days, was Lloyd's first choice. Olomana president Jake Mizuno and general manager Peter Yamashita approved wholeheartedly.

"I'm very fortunate to get this opportunity. It's a good opportunity for someone like me," Asao said.

His parents, Norman and Susan, are actively involved with the O'ahu Junior Golf Program, and his brother, Kellen-Floyd, the 2003 Manoa Cup champion, is a member of the UH golf team. A sister, Whitney, also played junior golf.

Asao will bring a lot of youth and enthusiasm to the job, said Lloyd, who wants to get away from the "same-old, same-old" and "try something different."

He and his wife of 34 years, Susan, will leave the Islands after his last day (Feb. 4) at Olomana for Wickenburg, Ariz., to live at a friend's cattle ranch 50 miles northwest of Phoenix.

"I also want to try and work on my golf game, something which I haven't been able to do," said Lloyd, who first worked at Olomana in 1972 after serving four years in the U.S. Army. His late father, Larry, ran the golf course restaurant.

A 1966 Roosevelt High School graduate, Lloyd was promoted to director of golf in 1981 and has been there since, except the time he ran the Mizuno family's Indian Wells Golf Course in Las Vegas for six years (1989 to 1995).

"His name is synonymous with Olomana," Suzuki said. "(And) he's one of the few people I know who everybody likes."

Expect a lot of friends to say aloha to Lloyd and Susan at a retirement and appreciation golf-and-dinner party planned for them on Jan. 29 by Casey.

The golf will be a three-person scramble with a 7:30 a.m. shotgun start at Olomana.

Dinner will follow at 6 p.m. at the Japanese Cultural Center. The cost is $125 per person. For more information, call Casey Nakama at 259-7712.