Kauai is ripe with highly-ranked golf courses

By Erik PetersonJanuary 19, 2010, 4:48 am
princeville prince course 6th hole
No. 6 at the Prince Course at St. Regis Princeville Resort (Photo courtesy HawaiiGolf.com)

KAUAI, Hawaii – When it comes to golf in Hawaii it doesn’t matter which island you decide visit, the ocean views and sunny skies are abundant just about everywhere. But if you also appreciate great golf, then Kauai is the place to go, because it’s here where you’ll find Hawaii's highest concentration of top-ranked golf courses.

Here’s a look at some of the must-play golf courses on Kauai:

For more golf in Hawaii, or to plan your next trip, visit HawaiiGolf.com
St. Regis Princeville Resort
At the newly-renamed and newly-renovated St. Regis Princeville Resort you’ll find two courses: Makai Golf Club and the Prince Course.

Built in 1971 by Robert Trent Jones Jr., Makai Golf Club is the older of the two courses at Princeville, but recently underwent a wall-to-wall renovation that divided the 27-hole course into the Makai 18 and Woods 9. It reopened Jan. 16.

The Makai 18 underwent the most significant change including the introduction of more bunkers, a fourth set of tees, and a full re-sodding of seashore paspalum, a grass that requires 50 percent less fertilizer than most seaside golf courses. Visual appeal also was enhanced with a change to white sand from the indigenous red.

The signature hole at Makai Golf Club is undoubtedly No. 7 at the Makai 18. This treacherous par 3 requires a shot over the ocean and 'Queen's Bath.' The views here are simply stunning, and it’s no surprise that No. 7 is one of the most photographed – and intimidating – holes on Kauai.

At the neighboring Prince Course you’ll experience the resort’s crown jewel, another Robert Trent Jones Jr. layout that he says is 'one of the top five courses I've ever designed.' Since opening in 1990 it has been widely regarded as the best golf course in Hawaii.

The first hole at the Prince Course is one of the toughest openers you’ll find. It’s a manageable 408 yards from the white tees, but a tight fairway will make you think twice about pulling driver for your first shot of the day. Even if you’re skilled enough to keep it in the fairway, you’re faced with an approach shot over a cross-cutting hazard that protects the front of the green.

The next four holes make a beeline for the Pacific Ocean, and introduce you to hazards you may not be accustomed to golfing your ball around: deep ravines, sneaky streams and vast jungle.

But the real fun begins at No. 6, a medium-length par 4 aimed directly at the ocean. Approach shots landing over the green run the risk of dropping off a cliff into the largest reef in Hawaii.

The par-3 seventh is the first photo-op hole at the Prince Course, but don’t become too distracted – it’s easily the most intimidating tee shot you’ll hit all day.

The back nine at the Prince Course is where elevation change really takes hold, and no hole has more of it than No. 12, a dastardly downhill par 4 that drops 100 feet from tee to fairway. Emphasis on accuracy will help you find the fairway, but shots wayward will disappear into the dense jungle foliage.

The mix of breathtaking scenery and well-designed holes at the Prince Course makes it a must-play on Kauai.

Poipu Bay Golf Course
If playing courses with pro golf pedigree is your MO, then be sure to visit Poipu Bay Golf Course, host of the PGA Grand Slam of Golf from 1994 to 2006. During this span, Tiger Woods won the event a reality-defying seven times, and in 2004 Phil Mickelson shot an electrifying 59.

But while the pros made minced meat out of the course’s 7,081-yard par-72 layout, it’s a formidable test for the average golfer.

Trade winds are a key factor in the difficulty of the course, and rarely is there ever a windless day. The par-3 third, for example, is an early indicator of what effect the wind will have on your round. This downhill par 3 boasts a crossing trade wind, and at 209 yards from the tips committing to your shot is paramount – the only reprieve is that the green is large and there’s no water in play.

The back nine continues Poipu Bay’s trend of awe-inspiring mountains but throws ocean holes into the mix, beginning with the par-4 15th, a cliffside beauty that begins the downhill-downwind journey back toward the clubhouse.

No. 16 was dubbed “the Pebble Beach of the Pacific” by Robert Trent Jones because it teeters on the edge of the ocean, much like Pebble’s 18th hole.

Nos. 15-17 make up one of the most picturesque trios of holes in all of Hawaii. To further enhance the visual appeal, golfers in the winter months might even see humpback whales spouting in the distance.

Poipu Bay partners with the magnificent Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa, which is within walking distance of the course. Like Makai, Poipu Bay is going to seashore paspalum turf and will close April 1, 2010 for the remainder of the year to accomplish this transition.

Even with Poipu Bay's temporary closing the Grand Hyatt remains open, and its superb accomodations provide a great hub for golf elsewhere on Kauai. If you stay here, be sure and try the Lomilomi massage at Anara Spa.

Kauai Lagoons Golf Club
While most of the golf on Kauai is convenient, no golf resort is simpler to get to from Lihue Airport than Kauai Lagoons; a two-minute shuttle ride is all it takes.

But as convenient as its location is, the golf is also memorable.

Currently, 18 of the 36 Jack Nicklaus-designed holes are open for play, consisting of six holes from the Mokihana Course and 12 holes from the Kiele Course. Included are the original Kiele 16th, 17th and 18th holes.

The signature 16th hole – a short par 4 lined along the left by an ocean bluff – requires a blind tee shot and a blind approach. If you don’t know what you’re doing, bogey or worse is more likely than par.

No. 18 is a demanding par 4 that’s the perfect culmination to a friendly match. It’s not the longest par 4 at Kauai Lagoons, but a cross-cutting water hazard and an island green provide plenty of drama.

Kauai Marriott Resort & Beach Club – adjacent to Kauai Lagoons – completed a $50 million renovation in December, 2009.

Puakea Golf Course
After its first 10 holes were constructed in the early 1990s, Puakea’s path to becoming one of Kauai’s best golf courses hit a road block when Hurricane Iniki ravaged Kauai in 1992.

With economic development stalled while the island’s infrastructure was rebuilt, the full 18 at Puakea wasn't completed until more than a decade later.

The original 10 holes are located beneath the same mountains that were the setting for 'Jurassic Park.' The subsequent eight holes sprawl inland and marry seamlessly with the original holes. The end result is an excellent stand-alone golf course that’s a nice getaway from the hustle and bustle of resort golf.

Wailua Golf Course
If you’re a blue-collar golfer visiting Kauai, don’t leave without playing Wailua, the island’s preeminent municipal golf course. At $70 for non-residents it’s the best value on the island.

What it lacks in razzle and dazzle Wailua makes up for in quality of golf – it’s one of only three courses to host three U.S. Amateur Public Links Championships (1975, 1988, 1996). Several holes bump up against the ocean, and with the Pacific as its backdrop, No. 17 is one of the prettiest par 3s on Kauai.

A short commute to and from Lihue Airport, you have no excuse for skipping the great golf and crazy Spam sandwiches at Wailua Municipal Golf Course. One thing to keep in mind, however, green fees are cash-only.
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Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

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

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Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

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.”

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Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

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.

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Farmers inks 7-year extension through 2026

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:04 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance has signed a seven-year extension to serve as the title sponsor for the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines, it was announced Tuesday. The deal will run through 2026.

“Farmers Insurance has been incredibly supportive of the tournament and the Century Club’s charitable initiatives since first committing to become the title sponsor in 2010,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

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“We are extremely grateful for the strong support of Farmers and its active role as title sponsor, and we are excited by the commitment Farmers has made to continue sponsorship of the Farmers Insurance Open for an additional seven years.

In partnership with Farmers, the Century Club – the tournament’s host organization – has contributed more than $20 million to deserving organizations benefiting at-risk youth since 2010.