Special for the Hawai’i Herald
For Cyd Okino, the first female head golf professional at Pearl Country Club in ‘Aiea, navigating the proverbial yellow brick road to fame and fortune has been an exhilarating journey, filled with extraordinary milestones that continue to punctuate every marvelous chapter of his book of life. .
You’re not in Kansas anymore
That being said, Okino can take a collective sigh and boldly click on her golf cleats now, because she’s no longer in Kansas (metaphorically speaking). On the contrary, Okino shares a rarefied air with others who have risen to the mantle of excellence at the highest level – which was predicted when she hit five holes in one in her early twenties – the first at seven years and the second at age eight.
Okino’s first two holes were at the Hickam Par 3 Golf Course. His third hole-in-one (at the age of nine) was at the Hawai’i Kai Par 3 Golf Course. The fourth Okino’s hole-in-one took place at Crane Creek Country Club in Idaho, and his fifth hole-in-one took place at Olomana Golf Course. At the age of 11, Okino left the Oahu Country Club as the youngest winner of the Hawaii State Women’s Golf Association Match-Play State Championship. Okino held on to defeat USC-bound Kaua’i’s Shelcie Takenouchi in the two’s debut in the amateur event.
A milestone in ‘Aiea
“It’s an honor to be here and I didn’t see much in it at first, but people have spoken to me and said it’s huge,” Okino explained. “I started to think about it more and realized that it was good that I was the first female head golf professional at Pearl Country Club and in the future if I don’t play here forever , we can have more female head golf professionals,” she added.
Okino thanks Pearl Country Club General Manager Ed Kageyama for his rapid advancement. Kageyama, who was Okino’s coach when she was in high school, recruited her to work at the Pearl Country Club. Within a year, Okino went from rookie to assistant pro to head pro.
Okino said, “I was lucky to get this job and progressed quickly. I want to keep learning and growing. I have so much more than I need to do. Personally, I just want to work to improve myself every day with my job, the people I work with and my whole family. I want to learn something new every day. It was an interesting ride. We plan to renovate our facilities in early 2024, and I want that renovation to happen. And see what we can do with it, and go from there. If it doesn’t work out in five years, I’ll see if I want to continue golf or if I want to do something different.
Genesis of a shining star
Cyrus Okino, his father, inspired Okino to pursue golf. She noted that her father was an avid golfer in high school and one of his best friends is Casey Nakama who was his golf coach, and that’s how she started the game of golf. Nakama coached Okino throughout his career. “I never imagined I would reach this part of golf and I guess at this point I was always a golfer so I always imagined my life would be when I was younger to play college golf and play professionally,” Okino said. “For the moment, my position here, I had never considered it.”
Okino is firmly attached for the long haul. “I’m 28 and will be 29 by the end of the year,” Okino said. “Recently I’ve been trying to figure out what’s next because it all happened so fast. My professional goal as a golfer has always been to play on the tour and compete for as long as possible.
She also expressed her thoughts on five holes in one: “You can hit a good shot and I know so many great golfers who have never done a hole in one. It’s a combination of skill and luck, but I think it’s more on the luck side, because I know for one of my holes in one, I didn’t even hit it in the direction out of the hole and he went into the hole… I think holes in one are awesome! Okino exclaimed. “If you can say you’ve had one, you know not everyone has had one, so it’s good to have one. My fifth hole-in-one was at Olomana, which was my home course, so I’m glad I finally got a hole-in-one there, because that’s where I grew up and played all days.
It’s all in the head
Okino’s thoughts on one of the most challenging aspects of golf: “I have to say that’s what’s between the ears… the mental game. Once golf gets to a certain level, we can all hit the ball well, you know, by hitting it straight and going to the green, you can make a putt, but if your mind gets in the way, it affects the way you play. to play golf. It’s definitely affected my performance in some tournaments, and I’ve seen it to the point where I overthink everything, and can’t even swing a club.
Speaking of golf as a mental game, Interlachen Country Club in Minnesota was the toughest course Okino competed on because it was the most prestigious.
“I played the US Women’s Open when I was 14,” Okino recalled. “There was a lot at stake and the stakes were high. I was so young and nervous, the conditions were great and the greens were rolling. I certainly remember knocking him off the green a few times. And the rough grew to be long, and that’s what made it so difficult and the most memorable.
Another difficult situation Okino faced was her first tournament as a professional, while in Japan. “In my mind, I put extra pressure on myself,” Okino said. “That third tee shot was probably the most nervous I’ve ever been, and then I got it pretty good. Each shot means making more money or making less money. I had one last putt and I don’t think he was three feet at the time, I made the cut and was going to make the money, and missed the putt. There was like a $500 difference in the prize money. Then I realized it was real and you really had to focus.
The engines of inspiration
“I have many role models; golf and non-golf,” she said. “For golf, my role model is my coach Casey Nakama, who helped shape the career I have now. I also consider Annika Sohrestore my model. She is what I always wanted to be when I was little. On the personal side, my father and my mother were also role models. I would like to think that I am a role model. More recently, I started coaching more. I like to think of myself as a role model for my students.
Okino pointed out that Title IX is the reason all women can play sports. She explained that Title IX gave her and all future generations the opportunity to compete in golf, as well as in life. “I appreciate it and hope the game of golf continues to grow as it has for the past two years,” she said. “Hopefully over the next three to five years it will continue to grow and people will want to learn more about golf and have fun.”
Okino’s advice to current golfers is to enjoy the process and know that golf is not a game of perfection. “I know there are people who want to rush things when they start golf and want to improve quickly, but it’s definitely not a sport you can just learn and get straight away, so keep going. to train if you want to get better,” she said. “You can’t just go out there and play and expect to get great because you have to get the reps.”
His advice to future golfers is to persevere. Okino explained, “I know at first it can be kind of a chore and everyone pushes you to do things, but sometimes we just forget to enjoy the game and stay interested.”
Okino continued to hone his skills, despite the challenges of the global pandemic. “I’d like to think about what I’ve been through and see who I am today, and you know we had Michelle Wie, and I wanted to be like Michelle Wie,” Okino said. She added: “At least with what I’ve done playing golf and now in management, I want people to know it’s possible. If I can leave that mark and inspire people to do the same, that would make me happy.
How does Okino disconnect from golf and everything else? “Well, I love to hike and haven’t had much time to do it lately, but I just like being outdoors. I’m not much of a beach person, but I like anything that keeps me active. I realized that I didn’t like to sit still for very long.