- Associated Press - Saturday, March 11, 2017

WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) - Golfers are criticizing a plan by Maui County’s mayor to shut down an 87-year-old municipal golf course.

During his recent state of the county address Thursday, Mayor Alan Arakawa proposed closing the Waiehu Municipal Golf Course, saying it is losing nearly $3 million a year. He said that in the last decade, the course has lost $16.3 million, The Maui News reported (https://bit.ly/2mMUmEF ).

“The mayor has to come out here and look at what’s going on before making a remark like that because I don’t think anybody wants this place shut down,” Leslie Hondo of Wailuku said Friday.

The golf course is one of the most affordable places to play on the island, with residents paying only $13 for 18 holes on weekdays and $18 on weekends. Seniors pay $8 and $12, and students pay $2 and $3, respectively. The mayor said the course only earned $1 million last year, but it spent $4 million.

Golf course pro shop starter Windy Ige said many players say they’d be happy to pay more as long as it keeps Waiehu open.

“If that’s what it comes down to, they’re willing to pay,” Ige said. “For the locals at 3 o’clock, they pay $5 for nine holes. I think we’re probably the cheapest in the nation. You can’t beat the rates, that’s just it.”

Leslie Hondo of Wailuku said Friday that the course, which he started playing on in high school 45 years ago, means a lot to many people.

“For us, the people that golf, it means a lot,” Hondo said. “Look at the course, it’s full of people. I don’t know what the people are going to do.”

Parks & Recreation Director Kaala Buenconsejo said after the mayor’s Thursday address that the idea isn’t to shut down the golf course, but “being fiscally responsible and finding more solutions for the revenue loss.”

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Information from: The Maui News, https://www.mauinews.com

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