Qualifier Spotlight: Friendly Family Competition in Maui

By Robert Collias

Kahului, Hawaii — With two older brothers in the field, Tehya Chumley wasn’t about to back down from anyone in the Maui local qualifier on May 27 for the 2018 Drive, Chip and Putt Championship.

In fact, 8-year-old Tehya was a driving force for brothers Renner and Caleb Chumley at the Dunes at Maui Lani Golf Course. Her showings last year at Maui and later at the Hawaii subregional qualifier earned her a trip to California.

While her trip to regionals was a highlight, she didn’t gloat over her fifth-grade middle brother Renner.

“I don’t really talk much with Renner,” Tehya said. “It depends on Renner’s mood. If he’s happy, he will be really happy for me, but if he’s mad he will be like: ‘Oh, who cares?’ ”

Matching or surpassing Tehya’s trip to California is definitely on 10-year-old Renner’s to-do list.

“It would feel amazing,” he said. “She got to go to many places and she thought it was really fun.”

Caleb Chumley will be an eigth-grader in the fall and has high school golf in his sights and while he keeps an eye on his younger sister’s successes, the listening factor amongst the Chumley siblings varies from time to time.

“I try to help her, but sometimes she doesn’t listen as much,” said Caleb, who has advanced to subregional round of Drive, Chip and Putt all four times he has competed and to Torrey Pines once, two years ago. “When she listens, she does really well.”

With just nine shots in the competition, Caleb Chumley said each one is key.

“It has to be your day — you got nine shots and you gotta make it happen,” he said.

Parents Scott and Sisiri Chumley know all three of their children receive a ton of knowledge — on the course and off — from the DCP program. All three advanced from Maui — Tehya with a second-place finish in the girls 7-9 age group, Renner was second in the boys 10-11, and Caleb was third in boys 14-15 — and will compete at the subregional qualifier at Kapolei Golf Club on July 22.

“This definitely ties them together, they always support each other,” Scott Chumley said. “They try to pick each other up when their doing not-so-good. They really praise each other when they do good. They work pretty well together.”

Sisiri Chumley sees the event help each of her children differently.

“The boys, they are easy, but very competitive — they focus,” Sisiri said. “Our girl, sometimes you want to close your eyes because she always performs well under the pressure, but for some reason it is just crazy.”

Scott Chumley interjected, “It’s really hard to get her to practice. … The boys are always at the driving range, chipping or putting. With her it takes a little persuasion.”

As Scott peered out at the facility that has a driving range and practice greens separated by about 100 yards, the competition swirling all around him, he smiled.

“I hope they see all this and it inspires them because golf needs to grow,” Scott said. “I think it takes the kids to get it to grow.”

The family takes advantage of the golf environment all over Maui. Caleb has been a standard bearer at the PGA Tour’s Tournament of Champions at the Kapalua Plantation Course for the last four years and Renner is set to join him there in January.

Caleb Chumley has walked the Plantation Course with Jason Day four times and in January Jordan Spieth gave a signed glove to Tehya.

Wes Wailehua, the executive director of the PGA Aloha Section for six years, was instrumental in the decision three years ago to hold qualifiers on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the island of Hawaii. Packing up all the equipment necessary can take more than an hour and then requires a trip to cargo-shipping area of each airport.

“Part of the mission of the PGA is to grow the game of golf and that can only be accomplished by having a qualifier on every island. The section takes on the challenge by shipping the gear and doing it for the kids at no cost,” Wailehua said.

Nineteen of Maui’s 36 entrants advanced.

“Growing up local as a young boy we never had opportunities like this,” Wailehua said. “Now that I’m in a position to be a leader in the industry, to create change, and to create opportunities as a native Hawaiian, as a local boy, it makes me very proud to represent the PGA of America and bring these opportunities to each of the kids in the islands, so they can compete.”