Island Address Book 9-15-2006

David Carey, Outrigger’s President and CEO, On Hawaii’s Great Golf

By: Dawna L. Robertson

avid Carey’s golf handicap has slipped a bit. While it’s a very respectable six, it was an extremely respectable two a year ago.

“I’ve been working more,” he laughed.

Yet, he’s serious about lowering it again. With Carey, golf isn’t simply a hobby, it was almost his career. Born and raised in Denver, Outrigger Enterprises’ president and CEO hit the links at an early age.

“My father was a really good golfer and a perennial champion at his club,” said Carey. “I played competitively in high school and was recruited by a couple of colleges. I was also invited to try out for several top-tier golf schools.”

Fortunately for Outrigger, the academic overachiever opted to pursue engineering courses instead of golf courses.

“My advisor told me that with all the science and math classes involved with an engineering degree, I’d be in the classroom all the time,” recalled Carey. “And with golf, I’d be traveling all the time.”

So Carey’s clubs were closeted, for awhile at least.

In an interesting twist of fate, Carey began dating a Stanford coed named Kathy Kelley and in 1977 he visited her in Hawaii and loved it. Eager to work, he asked her father, hotelier Richard “Doc” Kelley, for a job. Carey took a front-desk clerk position at what was then the Outrigger East Hotel (now the Ohana East). But even more important than hiring Carey, Kelley advised him to return to graduate school.

“I went back for an MBA and a law degree at Santa Clara University,” Carey explained.

In 1979, he married Kathy, who was also pursuing an MBA. Post graduation in 1982, Carey headed to Honolulu to practice law at the firm representing Outrigger. When a senior partner dragged him out on the course again, Carey began to regain his golf groove.

In 1986, Kelley asked Carey to join Outrigger full-time as executive vice president and general counsel.

“I told him I wouldn’t work on Saturdays and I wanted time to play golf,” Carey said. “While he agreed, it lasted about a month!”

Since the fall of 2000, however, Carey has played nearly every weekend.

“I think part of my passion for golf is that I play well, and it’s something I can be competitive at while relaxing and being social at the same time,” he said.

On Oahu, Carey typically plays on private club courses where he holds memberships. As for the neighbor islands, he tees off on the best.

“On Maui, I enjoy Kapalua’s Plantation Course because of the views,” he said. “It’s beautiful, looking out at the islands in the distance. And I also like the Emerald Course at Wailea.”

Carey is also keen on the Big Island’s Mauna Kea Golf Course.

“The course’s designer created view planes from all tees and greens, which is not always the case with all courses,” he said. “And it’s different every time you play it.”

Carey’s pick hole is the third: “It’s a 255-yard par three. I’ll play it from the back tees.”

When he’s on Lanai, Carey enjoys both The Experience at Koele and the Jack Nicklaus-designed Challenge at Manele.

“It has a par four on the 16th that’s a spectacular hole across the water,” he said.

Carey recently played Princeville’s Prince Course for the first time. He also enjoys Poipu Bay Golf Course because of the remarkable views.

“The great thing about Hawaii golf is that you can literally play every week of the year,” Carey said. “There are few places you can do that.”

While his passion for the sport remains intense, Carey has no regrets for opting out in college.

“I really love what I’m doing now,” he said. “But if I didn’t, I’d consider playing competitively.”


Prince Golf Course
Princeville Resort

Poipu Bay Golf Course
Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa

Plantation Course
Kapalua Resort

Wailea Emerald Course
Wailea Golf Club

The Experience at Koele
The Challenge at Manele

The Big Island
Mauna Kea Golf Course
Mauna Kea Beach Hotel