Best Golf in Hawaii Maui
Hitting greens is paramount at King Kahehameha Golf Club (King Kahehameha G.C.)
When it comes to golf in Hawaii you can’t go wrong with any of the four main islands – Maui, Oahu, Kauai and the Big Island. In fact, each island has such great golf that you could argue any one of them is best of the bunch. With the kickoff of the 2011 PGA Tour season at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions at Kapalua's Plantation course, we begin this month making a case for Maui.
LAHAINA, Hawaii – Once a playground for royalty, these days golf's elite set comes to Maui more than any other Hawaiian island.
The PGA Tour rewards the previous year's event winners with an invitation to the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions at Kapalua’s Plantation course. The limited-field event welcomes players with a guaranteed paycheck and Hawaiian hospitality to go with a par-73 design with jumbo jet-sized fairways.
Beyond hosting the game's current best at Kapalua, golf’s legends are regular visitors to Maui at the Wendy's Champions Skins Game at Royal Ka'anapali. This year's four-team, two-man field includes regulars Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson, who will go after a piece of $770,000 in prize money Jan. 29-30.
The pros have a lot of cash up for grabs in Maui in January, but when they leave, Maui's wealth of golf awaits the rest of us. The island serves up more than a dozen worthy golf courses to sample, and the top plays are all within about an hour's drive of one another. Each offers a different experience from the next, though there is one constant: panoramic views bringing together green mountain and sparkling blue ocean backdrops. The former seat of the King Kamehameha dynasty, the town of Lahaina near Ka'anapali was once known as 'lele,' meaning 'relentless sun' and that's what you can expect on your vacation.
Maui's best resort golf rivals any Hawaiian island
As the island's PGA Tour host, Kapalua is Maui's highest profile facility, and the seaside Bay course hosted an LPGA event in 2008. But Kapalua's lush jungle environment is hardly indicative of the rest of Maui's golf scene.
The shift toward drier terrain happens just a few miles south in Ka'anapali.
Though most of Maui's golf courses have opened since the 1990s Royal Ka'anapali debuted in 1962 with a bang: A tee shot from Bing Crosby welcomed a new era in Maui golf with a championship-caliber Robert Trent Jones Sr. design.
Ka'anapali Kai opened beside the Royal and features a shorter course with plenty of its own spectacular holes overlooking the neighboring island of Lanai and during the winter the occasional whale breach. While Kapalua was built amongst a pineapple plantation, the Kai runs along old railroad tracks once used by the Sugar Cane Train, which now shuttles tourists along the mountainside along former fields.
Continue south along the coastal road from Lahaina towards the eastern side of the West Maui Mountains, and you'll come across King Kamehameha Golf Club. Set at 700 feet above sea level along the mountain slopes, you can see the pinkish, Frank Lloyd Wright-designed clubhouse from miles around. With a member-for-a-day rate that includes lunch, it's an affordable luxury and makes for the island's best all-day experience after including the luxurious clubhouse and locker room amenities.
Wailea Golf Club, the resort community that features three golf courses, lies at the base of the 10,000-foot Mt. Haleakala. Not only is the dormant volcano instrumental in helping to protect the three courses from some of the island's more inclement weather and higher winds, it's given the Gold Course and Emerald Course at Wailea G.C. an unmistakable setting.
The two courses were built without attached residential plans and atop black volcanic rock and around native rock walls, creating a sharp contrast with green grass and blue ocean. The Gold Course hosted the Wendy's Skins Game before it moved to Royal Ka'anapali in 2008, and rivals King Kamehameha and the Kapalua Plantation as the island's toughest test from the championship tees. Wailea’s Old Blue Course is also as worthy challenge.
Golf on Maui's daily-fee courses
Every bartender, bellman and driver you meet in Maui seems to have a regular golf habit – when they're not getting preferred 'kama'aina' local access on the resort courses they head for one of the island's more affordable daily fees.
Just below King Kamehameha is where many locals and seasonal residents have their weekly game: Kahili Golf Course. The club opened in 1991 as Grand Waikapu Golf Club, but its brightest are here and now with new ownership and a commitment to service and conditions to go along with the Robin Nelson and Rodney Wright mountainside design.
Down the mountain, the Dunes at Maui Lani boasts a location that is central to the majority of Maui's population and accommodates them with a lighted driving range. The course itself has a rare setting on the sandy dunes land of the Kahului Istmus. The Robin Nelson design utilizes the links-like terrain with Scottish-type pot bunkering and bump-and-run playing style when the tradewinds are up.
Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings
Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.
Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.
As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.
"That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."
Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.
Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.
Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut
If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.
Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.
But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.
Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.
Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:
Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180
Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70
Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5
Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450
Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200
Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000
Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements
SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.
Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.
“It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.
Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.
“What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”
Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.
“When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”
Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back
SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.
Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.
Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim.
Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.