15 Apr Sutee Nitakorn is KBRA’s next ‘Nā Hōkū O’ Kā‘anapali’
Sutee Nitakorn, PGA Director of Golf at Kāʻanapali Golf Courses, has been named by the Kā‘anapali Beach Resort Association as “Nā Hōkū O’ Kā‘anapali.” Nitakorn is one of 10 “shining stars” who act as ambassadors of KBRA’s public relations campaign. The campaign aims to highlight Kā‘anapali’s best and brightest individuals and share their stories with media, thereby increasing the public’s understanding and interest in this dynamic area.
Nitakorn’s lifelong love for golf began during his childhood in Dallas, Texas. After his family’s move to Cincinnati, Ohio, he earned a bachelor’s degree in finance at Ohio University and continued to develop his skills to the point where he decided to turn professional. Golf management company Billy Casper Golf Management, Inc. brought Nitakorn to Kā‘anapali for an internship in 2003, and he knew he’d hit a hole-in-one.
Today Nitakorn oversees a diverse staff of 80, with responsibility for all operations at Kā‘anapali Golf Courses. That’s no small task in a broad-ranging facility of 300 acres that includes two golf courses, a driving range, a merchandise shop and a busy restaurant (Roy’s Ka’anapali). Nitakorn’s workday includes helping each of these outlets, hopping from business meetings to teaching lessons to hosting events for the hotels’ corporate outings.
This versatility is just what Nitakorn loves about his job, and he always welcomes the chance to share the joys of Maui golf with different people—sometimes golf legends like Jack Nicklaus! Nitakorn says he was “like a giddy little kid” when he helped host the legendary Nicklaus, his father’s favorite golfer, at the Tour of Champions Skins Game at Kā‘anapali Golf Courses.
Another career highlight for Nitakorn was caddying for Big Break Kā‘anapali runner-up Sophie Sandolo in the season finale. He is an enthusiast for the growth of women’s golf as host for Kā‘anapali’s Ladies League every month. Nitakorn’s leadership experience includes a trip to the 2016 and 2018 Kapalua Teaching Summits studying under the likes of Suzy Whaley, Brian Moggs, Tim Mahoney Jim Flick, Mike Malaska and Mike Adams. He has also had the privilege of teaching in workshops for golfers with adaptive disabilities and children with special needs.
As the next generation of golfers learns the love of the game, Nitakorn continues to help them along as swing coach for Maui’s Lahainaluna High School Golf Team, as well as heading up the Lahaina Junior Golf Program at Kā‘anapali Golf Courses. He was awarded the Junior Leader Award by the Aloha Section PGA in 2017 and 2011.
If he’s not on the golf course, chances are you can find Nitakorn enjoying his other favorite pastime: eating really good food. Roy’s, Japengo and the new Monkeypod are at the top of his Kā‘anapali must-eat list. Both his parents were immigrants from Thailand, and the family owned a Thai restaurant while Nitakorn and his younger sister were growing up. Watching his father rise from humble beginnings to achieve his life dream through hard work—and seeing how people were drawn to his charisma and kindness—inspired Nitakorn to dream as well.
Because not all visitors to Kā‘anapali are golfers, Nitakorn is always looking for ways to create shared experiences among groups. That might mean novice golfers choosing to play with recreational groups like parties, and families engaging in unique activities like FootGolf and GolfBoarding. Another opportunity is a series of events called DRIVE, which is designed as a party on the driving range, complete with live music, drinks and food—and of course, really great golf.
“Sutee uses his amazing expertise in golf to help create wonderful and distinctive memories for our visitors,” says KBRA Executive Director Shelley Kekuna. “He represents the finest of our folks, and that’s why we are proud to name him as one of our ‘Na Hoku O’ Kā‘anapali.’”
Nā Hōkū O’ Kā‘anapali embody several essential qualities: they are well-respected in the Kā‘anapali community; they are 100-percent committed to serving the area; and they are at the top of their game in their professional fields. They are also fascinating individuals with unique interests—and their respect for Hawaiian culture runs deep.
Throughout the year, KBRA introduces and celebrates more of our Nā Hōkū with media events, demonstrations and discussions, both in person and online. Our stars help to promote Kā‘anapali and increase editorial exposure in key national markets, thereby attracting a steady flow of visitors to help ensure a vibrant local economy.