KAPALUA, Hawaii (AP) — Gary Planos, who started out as a bag boy at Kapalua and became a favorite tournament host among PGA Tour players when he ran the Tournament of Champions, has died. He was 62.
Kapalua officials said Planos was found Saturday morning in the home where he lived the last 25 years. No cause of death was given.
PGA Tour players, such as Rickie Fowler and Billy Horschel, paid tribute on Twitter by referring to Planos as “Mr. Kapalua.”
Planos, an Evans Scholar at Illinois who later became a director for the Chicago-based Western Golf Association, moved to Maui in the mid-1970s and worked in the bag room at the Bay Course at Kapalua, earning $3 an hour with playing privileges.
He became a PGA professional and worked seven years on Maui before he was hired as a head pro at Kapalua.
Planos held nine titles at Kapalua, the last as senior vice president of resort operations in 2011 when his job was eliminated when Kapalua decided to no longer manage golf courses and tournaments.
He ran the Mercedes Championships when it became the winners-only start to the PGA Tour season in 1999, and he made sure everyone from Tiger Woods to Ernie Els had everything they wanted. He once took David Toms pheasant hunting and arranged for Adam Scott’s family to go whale watching.
Joe Torre was a regular in his office during the tournament. Mike Ditka was in his restaurant in Chicago one year when he spotted Planos and walked across the room to see how life was on Kapalua. Planos ended just about every conversation with, “Do you need anything?”
“Gary is Kapalua,” Steve Stricker said when he won in 2011.