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Chris Armanini is changing the way juniors get into golf in Hawaii

Chris Armanini, PGA Instructor at Ka'anapali Golf Courses, is changing the way juniors get into golf in Hawaii. Learn more about his unique golf programs.

Our Go Futures objective is to grow the game of golf and make it accessible to everyone. This month’s Go Futures Spotlight showcases Chris Armanini, PGA and the team at Kaʻanapali Golf Courses. Kaʻanapali offers a variety of programs ranging from individual to group instruction and coaching on the island of Maui. They are unique in catering to locals as well as the resort goers.

Chris Armanini, PGA is the Teaching Professional at Kaʻanapali Golf Courses. As a native to the Island, he returned home from college with the determination to grow the game of golf. His mission is to keep the game engaging, fun, and exciting for juniors so they keep playing that game through high school.

Question: How many overall participants did we have in instructional programs in 2020?
Answer: Prior to when I started working at Kaʻanapali in January 2020, there was virtually no instruction at the course. I developed programs that targeted the local market and vacationers to help grow the game. By the end of the year, my junior program grew to over 100 and my adult clinics grew to 30 participants. For the vacationers, I wanted to start a “Get Golf Ready - Hawaii” but the pandemic had different plans. Since travel was at an all time low, I developed virtual class for students around the world, which has turned out to be very successful.

Q: Summarize your plan for continuing to grow your facility’s programs.
A: Currently, the instruction and player development program is solely run by myself. In the future, I plan to grow our instruction programming by bring in PGA Professionals and Apprentices. My goal is to make sure the vacationers have access to an instructor every day of the year.

Q: What strengths do your facility and location have that you incorporate into your programming?  What are the challenges that you face?
A: The strength of our facility is our location as we appeal to residents and vacationers. As we are in the center of the Kaʻanapali Resort this draws in the tourists and our local community on the West side of the island is very close to us. The biggest challenge I faced in 2020 was the pandemic. This challenge gave me the opportunity to learn how to run virtual golf lessons. Virtual golf lessons helped me stay in contact with students and has grown into a profitable channel for myself and Kaʻanapali.

Q: Why do people come to you and why do they stay?
A: For me, I’m all about making connections with the student. Every student leaves knowing they have a friend in their golf journey. My goal is to guide them along the journey and open their eyes to new swing thoughts. Developing a personal connection with each student is important to understand how they learn and the best ways to keep it fun, light and engaging.

In 2020, I was recognized as a US Kids Top 50 Coach. In 2019, I was the Aloha Section Junior Development Award recipient. I was honored to receive these awards that show my dedication to junior golfer development.

Q: Please share a story of a student (current or former) who has stood out because of their passion for learning and playing the game, personal growth, improvement, tournament success or major achievement such as winning an award, earning a scholarship or becoming a PGA Pro.
A: A current student of mine is a sophomore on his high school varsity team. After a year of working together on his body mobility and stability, he won the 2019 HSJGA Tournament of Champions. Like many other golfers, he struggled with inconsistency off the tee. We worked hard on his internal hip rotation to stop his early-extension in his swing. Since 2019, his tournaments have been put on hold which can lead to frustration and negative thoughts. But for him he has worked hard to keep a positive attitude and is still practicing diligently. Can’t wait to see how well he plays his junior year! When the time comes, I believe he will be going to a college of his choice on a golf scholarship.

Q: What personally drives you to growing the game?  What gives you the most joy on a daily basis?
A: Every day I am focused on putting my best foot forward to help students learn to enjoy the game! I am driven to help students to understand that progress is a process that needs patience and perseverance to achieve their goals. I remember taking golf lessons as a junior and looking up to my coaches. My goal is to have that same positive impact on my students.

Q: Why did you choose golf as a career?
A: When I moved back to Maui after college, I noticed that the participation in golf and the quality of golfers on Maui was deteriorating. Growing up, having more than 12 golfers on a high school team was normal. Now, there are many teams that cannot form a team of 4. I took it upon myself to improve as a coach and drive more participation for juniors on the Island. It will be exciting to see the growth of players in the next 5 years as my younger golfers age into in high school athletes.

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