From the “Big Island” to Buffalo

Departments - Teeing Off

April 12, 2018

Four Season Resort Hualalai’s Brozie Ambrose and GCI senior editor Guy Cipriano.

Alohas are relished while farewells are dreaded in this business.

On the first day touring golf courses on Hawaii’s “Big Island” for our “Mauka to Makai” series, I met Brozie Ambrose. A prideful and affable Big Island native, Brozie drives 1 hour, 40 minutes each way for his job as an assistant superintendent at Four Seasons Resort Hualalai. Brozie worked on car bodies before realizing the occupation wasn’t good for his health. He turned to landscaping, finding his way to Hualalai, where golf course construction commenced in 1995.

The work was hard – Hualalai was built on lava rock – but rewarding, especially when the barren landscape developed into a resort and private club with 36 holes. Guests from nearly every state and dozens of countries flocked to Hualalai, giving Brozie a longtime job maintaining a golf course he helped build.

Continuing education via online classes allowed Brozie to parlay a passion into a career. Brozie, along with co-worker Chance Lincoln, who also helped build the Hualalai course, described their journeys during a lunchtime conversation at a restaurant overlooking the Pacific Ocean. After lunch, we walked to the 17th hole, a stunning par 3 that plays over lava rock and along the ocean. Brozie and Chance described how donkeys frequently interrupted construction when they were building the hole. Brozie pointed to a whale in the distance; sea turtles crept ashore by the tee. A delightful – and unforgettable – lunch.

A few days later, the inevitable arrived: my final day on the Big Island. The trip had a memorable conclusion as the Big Island GCSA extended an invitation to participate in their golf outing at Mauna Kea Resort. My cart partner? Brozie.

We traded life stories, exchanged barbs, hit a few good shots, hit some bad shots, stared at the oceanside (mauka) and mountainside (makai) holes, and developed an appreciation for each other’s place in the golf industry. Brozie invited me to visit the Big Island “anytime” as we embraced on the 18th green.

From Mauna Kea, I started the 4,500-mile trek to my Northeast Ohio base. I managed a few hours of sleep before scurrying to Buffalo for the first annual “O’Rgan Run” at Transit Valley Country Club.

Running on a cleared path along a snow-covered course provided an opportunity to say aloha to Brian Conn and Scott Dodson, a pair of superintendents involved in a recent kidney transplant. Conn, the superintendent at Transit Valley, gave his left kidney to Dodson, the superintendent at neighboring Park Country Club, on Jan. 9. The pair shared their incredible story for GCI’s February cover story during a three-hour interview inside Park CC’s clubhouse Jan. 23.

Transit Valley staged the run to coincide with St. Patrick’s Day as a benefit for kidney transplant patients at the University of Rochester Medical Center. Brian and Scott’s families joined them for a pre-run ceremony and tasty post-run Irish spread. Brian ran the last mile, an inspiring act considering what he voluntarily lost two months earlier.

Buffalo is 190 miles from home. I’m confident I’ll see Brian and Scott again. As for Brozie, I’m trying to believe another aloha awaits.