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Q&A/Dalen Yamauchi: ‘Just keep swinging,’ says pro and proud papa

  • RICK WINTERS/West Hawaii Today
    A three-time Big Island Amateur champ, Dalen Yamauchi will be back at Mauna Lani for the Hawaii State Open.

It was just a matter of time for Dalen Yamauchi.

A former national qualifier at UH-Hilo, a three-time Big Island Amateur champion and a Manoa Cup finalist, Yamauchi took the logical next step and turned pro.

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But that’s not all that’s new on Yamauchi’s plate as he gets set to tee off at the Hawaii State Open on Friday at Mauna Lani.

The Waiakea graduate relocated to Arizona – the Mexican food is great, Filipino cuisine not so much – and he and girlfriend Erin Costes, a former Vulcans golfer herself, had their first daughter in October.

Yamauchi’s priorities have changed, but when’s he’s on the course he’s still swinging for the stars.

He took time recently to answer questions via email with the Tribune-Herald:

Q: How has golf and life been since you moved from Hilo to Phoenix?

It has been great. I have had tons of support from my uncle, Tom Yamauchi and his family ever since I got here. The people you meet in Arizona are so friendly, from the members at my home course, Arrowhead Country Club, to other professionals playing on various tours.

Q: What do you like about life in Arizona?

Arizona is a great place to live. Cost of living is reasonable, weather is good yearround, and there’s definitely the best Mexican food I have ever eaten. My favorite dish out here is the menudo. Although the fishing is not as good as Hawaii, my cousins and I go up north to Lake Pleasant and catch good sized striped bass. We also like going to various lakes in the city to catch trout.

Q: How have you changed since moving?

In October, my girlfriend Erin Costes and I were blessed with a beautiful daughter named Keira. Spending time with them has shown me that golf is not the most important thing in life. I play for them and they support me through the good and the bad times.

Q: What are your short and long-term goals?

My goals for this upcoming year are to have full status on the PGA Tour Mackenzie (Canada) and to play various PGA Tour and Web.com Tour events via Monday qualifying. My ultimate goal is to be win one of the four major championships in golf.

Q: What do you miss about Hawaii?

The thing I miss about Hawaii are the people I interact with daily from the golf professionals and workers at Hilo Municipal Golf Course, my parents and my brother, and my friends who I would go fishing with. What I especially miss is my grandma’s cooking. I have yet to find good Filipino food in Phoenix.

Q: What has been your biggest challenge and how were you able to overcome it?

My biggest challenge was adapting to the courses we play out here in the desert. Some courses are really narrow and you will get punished for hitting bad shots. To overcome this, I have been working with PGA Professional John Kim who currently runs the John Kim Golf Academy at The Legend of Arrowhead Golf Club. Together, we have used technology like Trackman, BodiTrak and Sam Putt Lab to hone my skills.

Q: What is your biggest accomplishment thus far as a professional golfer?

In my first tournament in Arizona I placed second in a Pepsi Tour event. It proved to me that I have the potential to win.

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Q: What message would you like to share with the junior golfers in Hawaii?

The most important lesson I have learned is to not let your score define your worth. The pressure and expectations of golf can be very great, especially from parents, coaches, and friends who want you to do well. At the end of the day, you are a great human being no matter if you had a good or bad round. Just keep swinging the club and never give up.