Volcano Golf Course pau: Business shuts down, surprising Kamehameha Schools

  • JOHN BURNETT/Tribune-Herald A fire in 2019 caused major damage to the building housing the restaurant and pro shop at Volcano Golf and Country Club.

The Volcano Golf Course and Country Club has permanently closed, leaving the future of a beloved Big Island destination in doubt.

The 18-hole golf course, located near Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, opened nearly 100 years ago on a 156-acre parcel of land that was leased by Kamehameha Schools to its current tenants in 1982.

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However, those tenants announced without warning last week that the golf course would close and its business operations would be dissolved, said Alapaki Nahale-a, Hawaii Island senior director of Kamehameha Schools’ community engagement and resources.

“We were surprised and disappointed to hear it,” Nahale-a said. “We want the businesses on our lands to succeed.”

Nahale-a said the golf course managers did not give a reason for its closure, and they could not be reached Friday by the Tribune-Herald for comment.

However, the closure — which was announced to Kamehameha Schools last week, but only revealed to the public on Friday — came in the middle of a global pandemic that led state officials to mandate the closure of nonessential private businesses.

Although private golf courses have been allowed to reopen on Oahu and Maui, only the Hilo Municipal Golf Course has been allowed to reopen on the Big Island, which it will do on May 11.

The Country Club also was gutted in a fire last November, sustaining an estimated $315,000 in damage.

Nahale-a said Kamehameha Schools is “deeply tied to our land holdings,” and will carefully consider how to balance the land’s educational, economic and cultural values before making any decisions about the property’s future.

“We don’t want to rush into any long-term decisions, but we also don’t want people to wait too long,” Nahale-a said. “We are already engaged in discussions about what our decisions might be.”

Nahale-a said it is possible that Kamehameha Schools will choose to “stay the course” and keep the property as a golf course for the foreseeable future, noting that the property is well-loved by travelers and locals alike, including residents of the neighboring subdivision.

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Because the tenant’s lease agreement was scheduled to continue until 2024, Nahale-a said Kamehameha Schools must first transition the property back to its own management.

Email Michael Brestovansky at mbrestovansky@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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