Although a deadly fire wreaked havoc on Maui in July, killing nearly 100 people in what was the deadliest blaze on U.S. soil in a decade, the PGA Tour’s The Sentry — formally known as the Sentry Tournament of Champions — will go on as normal, according to a memo sent out by Tour officials on Thursday.
The event is the first of the calendar year and is held annually at Kapalua Resort, about 15 miles north of the village of Lahaina, which was the hardest hit by the fires. High winds and low humidity likely contributed to the fires, but officials know little else.
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan has been working with the governor of Hawaii to ensure the event will not only be played, but will help with recovery efforts in the area. Some residents died in their cars, while others jumped into the ocean or tried to run for safety. The Aug. 8 blaze reduced much of the historic town to ash.
A memo went out to PGA Tour players who had qualified for the event from Tyler Dennis, the chief competitions officer:
“It’s been six weeks since the Maui Wildfire Disaster severely impacted the island and its people. Given the continued relief and recovery efforts, I wanted to provide an update on The Sentry, which is scheduled to kick off the 2024 FedExCup Regular Season in January.
“Working in cooperation with state, county and community officials, the PGA TOUR is committed to playing The Sentry in 2024 at The Plantation Course at Kapalua. Hawaii Governor Josh Green has been emphatic in his support of our event and others, recently stating, ‘This decision [to allow visitors and events to return to Maui] is meant to bring hope for recovery to the families and businesses on Maui that have been so deeply affected in every way by the disaster. People from Hawaii and around the world can resume travel to this special place and help it begin to recover economically.’
“There is no other organization in sport which rallies around those in need like the PGA TOUR. Given the overwhelming support for playing the tournament, the TOUR and The Sentry are currently working on plans to further raise awareness and assist with fundraising and community service to Maui in a thoughtful and respectful manner.
“You should expect to hear from The Sentry Executive Director Max Novena and his team in the coming days. They anticipate opening the Accommodations Portal to secure hotel reservations very soon and are available to assist you in any capacity leading up to the first Signature Event of the 2024 season.
“Your participation and support of The Sentry will allow the TOUR to help showcase the ongoing recovery efforts in Lahaina and Maui, while inspiring our fans around the world.”
Burned cars and homes are seen in Lahaina, Hawaii, on Aug. 18. At least 114 people died in the Aug. 8 fire, making it the deadliest U.S. wildfire of the past century.
More than 1,800 homes and structures were leveled and the death toll surpassed the fatalities of Northern California’s Camp Fire in 2018. That blaze killed 85 and destroyed the town of Paradise.
Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization, a non-profit based in Waimea on Hawaii Island, said the increasing fires are threatening humans, infrastructure, water quality, agricultural production and natural resources.
“Hawaii has a wildfire problem,” the organization states on its website. “Each year, about 0.5% of Hawaii’s total land area burns each year, equal to or greater than the proportion burned of any other US state. Over 98% of wildfires are human-caused. Human ignitions coupled with an increasing amount of nonnative, fire-prone grasses and shrubs and a warming, drying climate have greatly increased the wildfire problem.”
USA Today contributed reporting to this story.