If you’ve golfed Turtle Bay’s Palmer Course, then we’re sure you have seen Mr. Al Flamingo. He’s the man flashing his pearly whites, waving a shaka and exclaiming, “Boom!”
A tag on his shirt says “Al” but the man has several different names. There’s Pro, Golf, Al Flamingo and Elvis to name a few. He’ll happily tell you how he got each one too. But I’ll stick with Pro, since it tells the story about how he fell in love with golf.
His love for golf brought him to Turtle Bay about 6 years ago, but his love for the sport began years before that thanks to his spirited attitude.
Flash back to 1970. He was a studying to be a firefighter in class and couldn’t focus thanks to others guys in his class.
“Hey gentlemen can you cool it? I’m studying for the test. They said, ‘Oh we’re writing on the board.’ I said what, they said ‘Handicap, you know handicap for our golf team.’ I go Golf! That’s for panties! You ought to see them! The local boys, 10 feet tall come over there, surround and me go, ‘What!?’ That’s how I first played golf, because they made me challenge them.”
Al wasn’t one to reject a challenge so he it took it.
“I came back to the fire station and I said, hey these guys gave me the chance to play at Waialae.”
He practiced golf on the Kahuku High School baseball field. The day of the tournament, they gave him a handicap of 25, he had no idea what it meant.
“I didn’t care I just wanted to make the challenge and of course the guys know I’m from the country so they go ‘Eh country boy, country boys no play golf, they surf.’ And you know you tell me I don’t do anything, I’m gonna get you! So the first time I shot 100-120 and they all went ‘Ahhh go back surfing.’ Like a miracle I came in the last group, they said , ‘That guy going to win.’”
Al found out he tied for first place in his first golf tournament ever! The prize was $66 so Al brought home $33
“This is so funny they had a party at Diamond Head but they didn’t tell me, they didn’t want to be around me. They didn’t wanna be around the winner. They thought I was gone for the day. They knew me being a rookie I won. I partied by myself I called my babe I said, babe I want to golf. I made $33 and I tied with this other guy.”
“So the next game come and now I’m the man. I come there and he is waiting for me and all the other guys are there and I’m walking and I’m bragging and no one else wants to be around me. I said hey so much for one surfer eh gentleman. So Taylor (the scorekeeper from the other tournament) come over with his tails between his legs, he goes ‘Oh, braddah Al hmm we made the wrong score on the other guy, you won the tournament! Here’s the other $33.’ Boom!”
Al immediately fell in love with golf and kept playing, but of course he wanted to be even better.
All my friends called me panty because then I started golfing more. I didn’t know the term sand bagger, sand bagger is you don’t know how to play and you beat everyone. Then these other guys from Hauula would call me, “The Natural” all they knew me was as “the pro” they’d see me and they’d say “hey pro!”
Al continued to play golf and perfected his game with books; especially one by golf legend Tommy Armour called “How to Play your Best Golf All the Time.”
Following Tommy Armour’s instruction, Al would practice in front of a mirror in his living room. The roof wasn’t high enough to take his swing, causing several scuffs on his ceiling. He says he learned the most from reading that book, and credits the golf legend for sharpening his game. Little did he know the book that changed his life would come full circle while he was at Turtle Bay.
A few years ago Al was making his usual rounds marshalling the Palmer course, when he came across a couple of men golfing. They ended up talking story about the course when Al asked their names .
“I’m Tommy Armour.” The man replied. Al couldn’t believe it; the man was too young to be THE Tommy Armour. Al found out he was actually Tommy Armour’s grandson, Tommy Armour III, who was also a professional golfer.
“Your grandpa taught me how to golf!” Al said excitedly.
“He taught me to practice my swing in front of the mirror in my house. But it caused a bunch of scuffs on my roof,” Al laughed.
“That’s how my pop taught me too!” Tommy Armor III replied proudly.
Before they continued on, Tommy gave Al a golf ball with his autograph.
These are only a few tales from Al. If you see him on the Palmer course, be sure to ask him how he got his other nicknames, like Al Flamingo. Ask him about the time he was a movie star. Ask him why he only uses one type of golf club. Or you can just say Hi, we’re sure you’ll enjoy more stories from The Pro.
Oh I forgot to mention one more thing… he can sing! Watch this video to see why he also has the nickname, Elvis.