Hawaii TV Golf Kicks Off Coverage

Not much has changed in the 56 years that the Mid-Pacific Open has been played. That’s not a criticism. History is what makes it one of the state’s top sporting events. The champions dinner is still a great evening of idle and serious chatter, the freshly flown-in fish is always a treat, and the thick-cut steaks are enough to make any top restaurateur slightly charred with envy. MidPac attracts the state’s best along with a steady supply of visiting up-and-coming and veteran players looking to boost their resumes with a victory in one of Hawaii’s triple crown of golf events – the others being the Hawaii Pearl Open and the Hawaii State Open.

What will be different this year is that for the first time, the final round will be televised.

The coverage is the brainchild of Jason Kotani, a Canon salesman turned TV sports entrepreneur, who after playing a round with some talented friends in December got to wondering why these dedicated athletes were toiling away in near obscurity. The idea was born.

Kotani, a competitive bowler who had appeared on Hawaii TV Bowling, contacted Scot Mitamura, Hawaii TV Bowling president, and Dave Goebert, production manager at KWHT, and after going over the numbers and a bunch of production meetings, they all agreed it was project worth developing.

“There is a little bit of a learning curve for everybody,” says Kotani. “The biggest challenge was finding the right spot on the course to get the right shot. We don’t have camera towers like they use at the Sony.”

Hawaii TV Golf will broadcast six tournaments this year: MidPac, the Manoa Cup and four of its own tournaments. All will be shot in HD and broadcast four times, the Saturday and Monday after the event and the following Saturday and Monday. On off weeks, Kotani will host One Hole with Jason Kotani, where he will interview golfers, club professionals and others in the local golf scene while playing one hole of golf.

While the targeted six tournaments is not a large number, the cost of putting it together is. Kotani says, after hesitating, that production cost is more than six figures. So why do it?

“The golfers deserve it,” he says. “One of the best guys in the state is 15 years old and he gets 30 seconds on the news – that’s just not fair. This is something that should have been done a long time ago.”

In addition to the Mid-Pac – Hawaii TV Golf will cover the last four holes starting at noon – the station also will cover Manoa Cup, the Junior Golf Association of Hawaii tournaments at Hoakalai and Turtle Bay, and two of its own scramble tournaments. Kotani says they will cover the entire semifinal and final rounds at Manoa and edit it down to two hours each. Highlights of the other rounds will be recorded and shown beginning the following week.

No matter his enthusiasm for the project, Kotani admits the road ahead will be difficult.

“We’re not making any money on this,” he says. “There are a lot of people behind this and they want to see the kids play.”