The Chester Kahapea Volunteer of the Year and Volunteer Chair of the Year awards are bestowed annually to outstanding Sony Open volunteers who have demonstrated selflessness, aloha and made a sacrificial effort for the tournament. Tournament vice chairs, volunteer division heads and volunteer chairs select the honorees to receive these prestigious awards. Congratulations to our 2018 honorees!
2018 Volunteer of the Year
A decade ago, Bob “Dulie” Duliban celebrated 20 years of volunteering for the Hawaiian Open and Sony Open in Hawaii. He considered himself reserved and soft-spoken. All that volunteering, and a little candy, has cured him of those quiet tendencies.
“I used be very quiet and shy and not say hi to many people,” admits Duliban. “I was scared to ask for this and that. About 10 years ago I started to open up. Now, because of that, I’ve got so many new friends.” There could be another reason.
“And,” Duliban fesses up, “I always have candy. They call me Candy Man.” They now also call him the 2018 Chester Kahapea Volunteer of the Year. It is a well-deserved honor for an amiable guy who, for 30 years now, has dedicated himself to nine-day “Sony weeks” that include 12-hour days.
After “Dulie” retired from United Airlines 11 years ago, he moved to San Antonio, Texas — and kept coming back to the Sony Open each year to the controlled chaos that is Operations Support.
“We’re the only committee that gets a picture (on their pass) because we have to be everywhere,” Duliban says. “I can’t explain what Operations does. We do it all. Whatever another committee doesn’t want to do or can’t do, it falls on our committee.”
Blame that on popular committee chair Bobby Tsumura and his band of talented, versatile and willing volunteers. Duliban’s first year was spent selling Haagen Dazs and Fuji apples by the first tee. Now, his primary focus is to make sure there is water on tees 11-18. From there, Operations “takes care of all the equipment,” from Keiki Care to the the Armed Forces tent and everything in between.
Duliban is 73 years old and Harrison Kam — water man on the front nine — is 83. Tsumura, the PGA TOUR’s 2003 National Volunteer of the Year, is somewhere in between — and not slowing down at all. “I don’t think Bobby knows the word no and I’m glad he doesn’t,” says Duliban. “I wouldn’t know as many people as I know now if not for Bobby. When you are in Operations, you don’t really get to see the tournament, but you do get to see the people. … It’s like seeing your family again. That’s what I love about Hawaii. Everything here is family. I love that. I have more nieces and nephews here than I do on the mainland.”
So now “Dulie,” is it worth the trip over from San Antonio every year? “Oh yes. Yes. Oh yes.”
2018 Volunteer Chair of the Year
Cameron Barnes “just wanted to see a little golf” when he began volunteering for the Sony Open in Hawaii. Many years later the 2018 Chester Kahapea Chairperson of the Year, who oversees the Ropes and Stakes committee, sees very little. His first volunteering gig was with the ShotLink committee. After a couple years he was looking for a change and moved — far, far away from the golf course — to Parking.
Before he retired from the Navy in 2008 and took a civilian job, Barnes talked to a friend at work (Ian MacLean) who was in charge of the Sony Open’s Ropes and Stakes. MacLean introduced him to the committee that transforms serene and winding Waialae Country Club into the precise and perfectly coiffed path walked by thousands of spectators at the PGA TOUR’s first full-field event of the year.
“We have 30-something folks on our committee, but they all only come out the Saturday before the event starts,” Barnes says. “All the heavy lifting is done that day then you don’t see them again. About five folks stay all week and do all the maintenance.
“Once the ropes are up, you’ll notice all the ropes are perfect and straight, there are no knots hanging off them. We have to splice every single knot in those ropes. It’s important because you don’t want to see a bunch of knots hanging, so we splice.” And splice, and splice and splice. TV coverage, and Barnes and his committee’s devotion, demand perfect ropes around all 18 holes. There are “drop gates” to go up and down for maintenance and other workers. Errant shots, and spectators, force spontaneous fixes.
“The PGA TOUR comes out every year and says we want the ropes twangy tight,” Barnes says. “If they aren’t, it looks terrible on TV. And there’s nothing we can do if a player comes outside the ropes to make a shot. The marshals do the best they can to get the rope back up, but inevitably it will start sagging.”
Each night Barnes’ crew “drops” ropes to allow maintenance in. At 5:30 the next morning they return to put up what again are “the most beautiful ropes.”
It goes on each day through Sunday, when Barnes’ hard-working crew — “as quietly as possible” — follows the final groups on both sides and picks everything up.
He has been the chair since MacLean, who works with the Navy’s SEAL Delivery team — explaining why 10 percent of the committee is made up of SEALs— decided not to continue. “I felt an obligation to the event,” Barnes shrugs. “This is something that’s a hard job. You can’t just teach somebody to do it. We are right on the course. Every shot the camera takes is going to see Ropes and Stakes and if it looks terrible, I look terrible. It’s important for me that it looks very good.”
Now that he is on the course so much, how much golf does he see?
“I’ve seen three shots this year,” Barnes said on the final day of the 2018 Sony. “One was Tony Finau’s hole-in-one. I was on the other side of 17 and I heard the roar. It was awesome.” That moment was, as his committee and anyone else who actually knows what Ropes and Stakes does will tell you, well deserved.