Good news is that I was able to
work out the logistical issues and figured out a way to play both courses in HI
in a much reduced time frame. Way back
in November 2013 I had a similar issue.
I had played 91 of the Golf Magazine 2015 World Top 100 and my plan was
to first visit Cabo, Mexico for 48 hours and in that time play three courses
including two World 100’s (Ocean and Diamante-Dunes) and second play the last 7
of my “unplayed” on a round the world trip in May 2014. Due to weather delays flying to Houston to
connect to a flight to Cabo, I missed my connection and lost a day. I ended up being “on the ground” in Cabo for
25 hours during which I played both World 100’s.
This trip I had to change the
order of my visit from MauiàKauai to KauaiàMaui. I also had to take four separate flights on
Monday 3/27: CharlotteàPhoenixàKauaiàHonoluluàMaui, while also
playing 18 holes at Hokuala. But must
admit it was also made possible by the proximity of Hokuala to the local
airport in Lihue (literally right next door), and the time zone change of 6
hours. I will tell you that when I
reached my hotel Monday in Maui at 11pm local time, I was one tired puppy!!
(formerly Kauai Lagoons—Kiele Course) March 27, 2017: It seems like there a lot of golf courses and
clubs around today that must be identified by their current name and their
former name. A sign of the economics of
the game of golf these days. I asked two
people how many owners the resort has had since its opening in 1993…one said
seven and the other said three…who knows??
One bad sign was that construction appears to have been halted on some
real estate lining the course…
I teed off on the back none and
had a 38-42 = 80. The course played to
7156 yards from the back and about four holes sit along the Pacific or a small
bay. Simply put, the course was
disappointing. There is one outstanding
hole and two others that are very very good.
But there are also several very disappointing holes, including #16-18. The 16th reminded me of the 5th
hole at Quivera, a Nicklaus design in Cabo that I played last year. Quivera’s 5th is a ridiculously
tight short par 4 that doglegs left down hill to a blind green. Hokuala’s 16th is a straight
version with, but at least Quivera had the excuse that the course had to
transverse a large stone mountain…Hokuala has no such excuse.
The best hole by far (and a
really great one) is #5, a 219-yard par 3, slightly uphill with a carry over a
“jungle like gorge” of about 175 yards from the tips. Green is two tiered, round in shape, slopes
from back to front, and sits up high…making it very subject to the winds (which
are masked down on the tee). Other good
holes are #12-15.
Course played firm and fast and is
good condition, but I certainly had the sense that the economics of this resort
were in deep trouble.
Holuala #13 474 yd par 5 headed to Pacific
Hokuala #14 210 yd par 3 over gorge
Hokuala #16 2nd shot...no fairway to hit off tee and silly 2nd shot
Hokuala #3 436 par 4...bunkers well protect route to green
Hokuala #5 219 yd par 3...love this hole
Royal Kaanapali Golf Course,
March 28, 2017: After about 5 hours
of sleep (which followed about 4 hours of sleep the previous night), it was up
at 5:15am to pack up and get over to Royal Kaanapali (less than a mile from my
hotel room) for a 6:30am tee off. I was
scheduled to fly back to LAX at 1:13pm and Maui traffic can be difficult.
Royal Kaanapali opened in 1962
and has hosted a number of professional golf events, including:
Wonderful World of Golf in July 1963 (New Zealand’s Bob Charles shot a 66 to
defeat USA’s Dave Regan);
Cup (now the World Cup) in December 1964 won easily by USA’s team of Arnold Palmer
and Jack Nicklaus;
Kemper Open from 1982-85 (won by Amy Alcott in ’82, Kathy Whitworth in ’83,
Betsy King in ’84, and Jane Blalock in ’85); and
PGA Tour Kannapali Classic 1987-2000 won by Orville Moody, Don Bies (2x), Bob
Charles (3x), Jim Colbert, Tommy Aaron, George Archer, Bob Murphy, Hale Irwin
(2x), Jay Sigel, and Bruce Fleisher.
Played with two other golfers,
one from Minneapolis and the other from Alberta, Canada. Good guys and we played fairly quickly. Course was over watered and not very
interesting. Plays 6700 yards from the
tips but played much longer given the conditions. Had a smooth 47-42 = 89…and could not wait to
finish the round (just a bit tired!).
Course is very very hilly except for #1 and # 17-18 which are dead
flat. And of course has plenty of Robert
Trent Jones Sr. 60 yard long tee boxes (commonly called runways). Good to have this in the rear view mirror!
But I got it done…on the ground
in HI for all of 23 hours, played two courses on two different islands with two
puddle jumper flights as well…even better than Cabo in 2013!
Drove to the airport and the
flight to LAX was early. When I arrived
I had a message from hotels.com on my cell phone, saying there was problem with
my hotel reservation. Good news was that
it got resolved with one phone call as they secured another room at a nearby
hotel. Drive up to Thousand Oaks CA took
about 50 minutes and was in bed by 11:30pm.
Next two days were 36 holes/day and lots of driving!