Global Golf: Hawaii
A beautiful string of islands in the Pacific with active volcanoes and picturesque golf courses is home to the PGA Tour’s Tournament of Champions and the LPGA’s Lotte Championship. With favourable temperatures all year round, the golf and waves never stop. Check out these courses to add to your bucket list and this local pro who already has a major title to her name.
Kapalua (Plantation), Kapalua, Maui
Consistently ranked as the #1 golf course in Hawaii, playing The Plantation Course is sure to be on every golfer’s bucket list. Designed by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore, the course was designed on a grand scale in keeping with its location on the slopes of the West Maui Mountains and offers dramatic ocean views from virtually every hole. Its lengthy 7,411 yard par 73 layout challenges the pros but it’s wide fairways and generous greens make it very playable for the average golfer. With dramatic elevation changes, this course offers plenty of downhill tee shots. You’ll feel like one of the pros when - with the aid of the aggressive slope of the 18th fairway - you hit one of the longest drives of your life.
The Plantation Course is the site of the PGA TOUR Tournament of Champions each January featuring an elite field of previous year's PGA TOUR winners. The field has included golf greats such as Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Justin Leonard, Ernie Els, Davis Love III, and many more. The course record of 62 is held by K.J. Choi (2003), Graeme McDowell (2011), Chris Kirk (2015), and Jason Day (2015).
Manele Golf Course, Lanai City
Designed by the one and only Jack Nicklaus, Manele is one of the most stunning and interesting courses on this list. Manele offers the Pacific Ocean as a water hazard, cliff based tee’s, natural gorges throughout the course all atop a lava outcropping. During the winter months, you can spot humpback whales right from the fairways.
Every moment on Manele is amazing but some holes are more exquisite than others. Holes 10 – 13 are set along Hulopoe Bay featuring 200-foot cliffs with the Pacific Ocean as an unforgiving hazard. The 12th hole is notorious for the demanding carry it requires to cross 200 yards of deep blue ocean. The par-4 17th hole is the longest forced carries on the course – right over a cliff with the surf crashing against the rocks far below – and that’s just to reach the fairway. This tee shot is nearly blind as all you see from the tee is the flag on the green.
If there was ever a man who knew what he was doing when building a golf course it is Jack Nicklaus. This layout is one of the most challenging and beautiful courses in the world. Put it on your list.
Mauna Kea Golf Course, Kohala Coast
The Mauna Kea Golf Course, est. 1964, on a previously barren black lava field, remains an all-time favourite to many locals and international players. The elevated undulating greens and prevailing coastal winds demand accuracy on every shot. The challenging Big Island course offers stellar coastal views as it tumbles across seaside cliffs and some holes play right alongside the ocean or across it. Boasting many high accolades, Mauna Kea has solidified itself as one of the best golf courses in Hawaii including being named in Golf Digest’s “America’s 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses” (2009-2016).
The stunning courses aren’t the only thing Hawaiian golfers can be proud of. Currently one of the most well-known and talented LPGA golfers out there is Hawaiian native Michelle Wie. Born in Honolulu, Wie is a star with her 2014 U.S. Women’s Open win, second place in the ANA Inspiration Tour, and Women’s PGA Championship.
Given her similar size and swing to Ernie Els, she has been nicknamed the “Big Weisy” and Els himself has stated that she has potential to play on the PGA tour. Arnold Palmer accredited her with the possibility of influencing the face of golf as much as Tiger Woods has. High praise from two legends of the game.
Wei has had a tremendous start to her already soaring career, with all this success she now has a high bar to maintain going forward. Given her past performance and limitless potential there is no doubt she can keep it going. Keep an eye on her when the LPGA visits Hawaii on April 12-15, 2017 for the Lotte Championship.
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