Traditionally Hawaii’s last tournament of the year, the Hawaii State Open also is one of Hawaii’s oldest tournaments. The Hawaii State Open was launched in 1974 as a revival of the original Hawaiian Open. The Hawaiian Open began in the 1920s and was a fitting championship that determined the best golfer in the Islands. Many great players from the mainland were invited to compete and did so for more than 30 years.
Because of the diversity of players and the boost in economy from these events, three former Waialae Country Club presidents, Ken Brown, John Bellinger and Francis Wright asked the PGA Tour in 1965, to add the Hawaiian Open as a regular stop on the PGA Tour.
Although this was a great commercial success, it restricted Hawaiian pros and amateurs from participating in the Hawaiian Open, since now to play in the event, you had to be a playing member on the PGA Tour.
For a few years there remained no place for Hawaiian players to participate in a premier event. In 1974, the tournament was revived and the name changed to the Hawaii State Open. While its name had changed, its mission remained the same: to find the best golfer in Hawaii. As part of the revival, the Ted Makalena perpetual trophy was established. Makalena was the first Hawaii resident to win a PGA Tour event – the 1966 PGA Tour Hawaiian Open.
It was decided to host the event annually, where Oahu and the Ala Wai Golf Course became the site used most often. With dwindling sponsorship dollars and a host site that was not appropriate to attract the best players, the Hawaii State Open had been unable to attain the prestige befitting such a championship.
In 1976, a women’s division was added. In 1989, a senior division was added.
The Chevrolet Dealers of Oahu were the last supporting sponsor of the event, but did not renew their sponsorship for 1993. The event had been run by the Oahu Junior Golf Association, with the excess revenue being channeled toward Oahu Junior Golf.
In 1993, the tournament was taken over by the Aloha Section PGA with the goal of returning the event to its rich tradition of hosting a premier local golf tournament on the best courses throughout the islands. The Foundation took over the event in 2006.
Past champions include 1987 U.S. Open Champion Scott Simpson and local favorites Japan PGA touring professional David Ishii and PGA Tour player Dean Wilson. David is the only player to have won both the Hawaii State Open and the Hawaiian Open.