Tommy Tang retiring but respect for him will live on

Over the past 43 years, thousands of golfers playing the Kaanapali courses had the pleasure of encountering a course marshal most knew only as Tommy Tang. Thousands of other people in West Maui know him as a faithful friend of the Japanese community or for his generosity to the kupuna. They know him as Tommy Sarashina.

Tommy, at 88, just retired from his official job as an employee of the Kaanapali golf courses and his unofficial role as ambassador to their thousands of visitors. He was as responsible as anyone or anything in providing a lasting good memory for those visitors.

Fortunately, he will not stop being Tommy, respected friend to thousands. Most people do not know the unspeakable things he had to endure during his life, enough bad experiences to sour most people on humanity. But not Tommy. During his 43 years at the courses, there was never a day he didn’t flash that big grin of his that enabled him to melt hearts even as he suggested a party pick up the pace or wait as a faster one played through.

He also was a great conversationalist, not only as one who talks story, but also as one who loved to listen, read and learn. I am proud to have him as a friend.

Why “Tommy Tang?” Except for a several-year break, until recently, Tommy’s marshal’s golf cart, which he pointed out was misnamed as “Player’s Assistant,” always carried a large cooler filled with complimentary Tang.

Howard Fields