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Ron Mizutani

The Power Of Golf To Change Lives

Rocker Alice Cooper at the Sony Open Pro-Am | Marco Garcia photo

Rocker Alice Cooper at the Sony Open Pro-Am | Marco Garcia photo

Celebrity sightings are common at golf tournaments, particularly during a tourney’s pro-am event. It’s often a chance for big names and corporate sponsors to mix it up with the pros, while raising funds for charities.

Such was the case at the 2014 Sony Open.

But this year, the biggest celebrity at the Sony Open happened to be one heck of a golfer as well. Rock ‘n’ roll legend Alice Cooper arrived at Waialae Country Club with his incredible 4 handicap and handed his bag to caddy Sakda Pao- suwan.

“Our caddy master paired me with him, and it was absolutely amazing, one of the best experiences I’ve ever had at Waialae and the Sony Open,” says 28-year-old Paosuwan. “He was easy to talk to and a very humble guy. I was very impressed. He was really cool.”

Cooper, who rocked the world in the 1970s with hits such as School’s Out and I’m 18, was all business on the course. According to Paosuwan, who has cad-died in four consecutive Sony Opens and plays at Waialae at least once a month, Cooper did not hesitate to ask questions.

“Especially when it came to hitting around the greens, he wanted to know about distances, should I hit it low or hit it high,” says Paosuwan. “All the other caddies were like, ‘Hey, can we trade?’ I was just really stoked. I grew up in Florida listening to his music and just to have the opportunity to be on his bag was awesome.”

Paosuwan says the iconic rocker was extremely gracious and appreciative, even offering him an opportunity to play a round of golf with him on the Valley Isle.

“It was really humbling because he invited me to play on Maui, but I just couldn’t make it over there,” he says.

But it was a side of Cooper that the public doesn’t often see that moved Paosuwan the most. The rock star shared a very personal story about himself that Paosuwan will always remember.

“He told me how he quit drinking for more than 20 years, and it was because he took up golf,” says Paosuwan. “He said golf got him away from the wild side of rock ‘n’ roll and how much he looked forward to getting on the course. Golf changed his life. It saved his life.”

Golf also has changed Paosuwan’s life – or at least his career path. Six years ago, he moved to Hawaii with big dreams of seeing the world.

“I wanted to travel, so I got a job as a flight attendant with go! Airlines,” he says. “I took a leap of faith and came out to Hawaii, knowing I would have a chance to grow and eventually do more traveling.”

He was not only new to the Islands, he also was new to the game of golf.

“I actually started golfing when I moved here from Palm Beach. I never picked up a club until I got here,” he says with excitement. “I came to Hawaii so I could fly around the world, and instead I found a new career that I am now passionate about.”

Paosuwan is so passionate that he’s taking another leap of faith. He leaves next month for Florida, where he plans to take the PGA Playing Ability Test. The P.A.T. is a 36-hole event that a player is required to pass in order to become a PGA professional. Paosuwan, who owns a 7 handicap, wants to become a PGA instructor.

“I want to reach my goals before I’m 30,” he says with confidence. “Golf has taught me many life lessons. I appreciate what the Islands have done for me. Hawaii helped me find something that I want to keep doing for the rest of my life.”

Two men with two very different stories who share a common bond, the game of golf, which changed their lives forever. And it all was revealed at the Sony.

rkmizutani@gmail.com

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