Big Island's Hapuna Golf Course more than holds its own with nearby Mauna Kea

By Travel ArticlesOctober 9, 2012, 4:00 am

KAMUELA, Hawaii -- Any idea that Hapuna Golf Course is just the other venue at Mauna Kea resort on the Big Island is quickly dismissed once you start playing it.

It may not be as hard as its big-brother course -- Mauna Kea Golf Course, which is on the other side of the Queen Kaahumanu Highway -- but it's almost as pretty. And it's probably more fun, too, because it's not as difficult.

Not that the Arnold Palmer/Ed Seay-designed Hapuna is a pushover.

Although it's some 400 yards shorter than Mauna Kea Golf Course, it's still 6,875 yards with plenty of challenge off the tee and an ever-present breeze that can sometimes become quite formidable.

Still, once you find the fairways on this rolling spread that features more than 700 feet of elevation, the approaches and the greens are easier. And that translates into scoring opportunities and fun.

Plus, you can expect significant green-fee savings over Mauna Kea. And considering that the same superintendent now oversees both courses -- meaning course conditions at Hapuna are on par with Mauna Kea -- that's a pretty good deal.

'I think Hapuna is very underrated,' said Mauna Kea Head Golf Professional Johnny Eusebio. 'The thing about Hapuna is that even though it's not on the ocean, you can see the ocean from any tee or green.'

Views abound at Hapuna

Considered one of the most environmentally sensitive golf courses in Hawaii -- you'll see plenty of wildlife and a few domestic sheep -- Hapuna overlooks the Kohala Coast, the Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa volcanoes, and the Kohala Mountains.

The holes meander through mesquite and black lava beds, providing a striking contrast between green grass and surrounding native areas. And for the most part, the holes are isolated from each other, giving each playing group a sense of isolation.

You could take your pick of signature holes. You get a sense right away that they're all pretty interesting and scenic.

The third, for example, is a downhill par 5 that doglegs left around a lake.

The par-4 sixth not only features an ocean view but an unusual bunker left of the green that's sure to catch your attention.

The 11th is in another good par 5, this time making a turn uphill to the right to a green perched above the tee.

And the downhill 15th, with a row of palms glistening in the distance, provides another panoramic view of the sea in the distance.

Hapuna's finishing stretch is as good as it gets: The 17th and 18th are terrific par 4s, with the last hole playing 462 yards from the tips. The nice part is that from the front set of four tee boxes, 18 is just 338 yards, meaning the course truly is set up for all levels of players.

And the practice facilities -- with an extensive short-game area and range, as well as the clubhouse, which offers terrific dining -- are both top-notch.

Hapuna Golf Course: The verdict

This is one golf course you shouldn't skip if you make a trip to the Big Island. It's reasonably priced, super interesting and features one great view after another. While it's not right on the ocean, there are plenty of ocean views because of the elevated tees. It's also in terrific shape.

It's also very playable for all levels of players, although some of the tee shots can appear a little bit intimidating. All in all, it's a great changeup from its big sibling, Mauna Kea Golf Course.

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Watch: Tiger throws dart, pours in birdie at 8

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 18, 2018, 7:31 pm

Starting Sunday five off the lead, Tiger Woods teed off his final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational with a laced 2-iron and a par at No. 1.

Woods hit the green at the par-3 second but left himself a 50-foot birdie putt and a 6-footer to save par, which we walked in.

A two-putt 4 at the par-5 fourth gave Woods his first birdie of the day and moved him to 8 under for the week. Apparently energized, Tiger pulled driver at the short par-4 fifth and unleashed this violent swing.

A pitch from the thick rough hit a sprinkler head and stopped on the apron, leading to this birdie try, which fortunately hit the pin but unfortunately didn't fall.

Looking to pick up another stroke - or two - at the par-5 sixth, Woods took his drive 317 yards over the water and hit this second shot from 227 yards to 13 feet, leading to another two-putt birdie when his eagle try burned the right edge.

Returning to his trusty 2-iron, Tiger found the fairway at par-4 eighth and then threw this dart from 176 yards to 6 feet and rolled in his third birdie putt of the day to move to 10 under.

(More coming...)

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Tiger Tracker: Arnold Palmer Invitational

By Tiger TrackerMarch 18, 2018, 5:00 pm

Tiger Woods will start Sunday five off the lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. How will he follow up last week's runner-up? We're tracking him at Bay Hill.

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McIlroy: Time for Tour to limit alcohol sales on course

By Ryan LavnerMarch 18, 2018, 1:50 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Rory McIlroy suggested Saturday that the PGA Tour might need to consider curbing alcohol sales to stop some of the abusive fan behavior that has become more prevalent at events.

McIlroy said that a fan repeatedly yelled his wife’s name (Erica) during the third round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

“I was going to go over and have a chat with him,” McIlroy said. “I think it’s gotten a little much, to be honest. I think they need to limit the alcohol sales on the course, or they need to do something, because every week it seems like guys are complaining about it more and more.

Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

“I know that people want to come and enjoy themselves, and I’m all for that, but sometimes when the comments get personal and people get a little bit rowdy, it can get a little much.”

This isn’t the first time that McIlroy has voiced concerns about fan behavior on Tour. Last month at Riviera, he said the rowdy spectators probably cost Tiger Woods a half-shot a round, and after two days in his featured group he had a splitting headache.

A week later, at the Honda Classic, Justin Thomas had a fan removed late in the final round.

McIlroy believes the issue is part of a larger problem, as more events try to replicate the success of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, which has one of the liveliest atmospheres on Tour.

“It’s great for that tournament, it’s great for us, but golf is different than a football game, and there’s etiquette involved and you don’t want people to be put off from bringing their kids when people are shouting stuff out,” he said. “You want people to enjoy themselves, have a good day.”

As for a solution, well, McIlroy isn’t quite sure.

“It used to be you bring beers onto the course or buy beers, but not liquor,” he said. “And now it seems like everyone’s walking around with a cocktail. I don’t know whether (the solution) is to go back to letting people walking around with beers in their hands. That’s fine, but I don’t know.”

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Confident Lincicome lurking after 54 holes at Founders

By Randy SmithMarch 18, 2018, 2:45 am

PHOENIX – Brittany Lincicome is farther back than she wanted to be going into Sunday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she’s in a good place.

She’s keeping the momentum of her season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic victory going this year.

Her confidence is high.

“Last year, I won in the Bahamas, but then I didn't do anything after that,” Lincicome said. “I don't even know if I had a top 10 after my win in the Bahamas. Obviously, this year, I want to be more consistent.”

Lincicome followed up her victory in the Bahamas this year with a tie for seventh in her next start at the Honda LPGA Thailand. And now she’s right back on another leaderboard with the year’s first major championship just two weeks away. She is, by the way, a two-time winner at the ANA Inspiration.

Missy Pederson, Lincicome’s caddie, is helping her player keep that momentum going with more focus on honing in the scoring clubs.

“One of our major goals is being more consistent,” Pederson said. “She’s so talented, a once in a generation talent. I’m just trying to help out in how to best approach every golf course.”

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Pederson has helped Lincicome identify the clubs they’re likely to attack most with on the particular course they are playing that week, to spend more time working with those clubs in practice. It’s building confidence.

“I know the more greens we hit, and the more chances we give ourselves, the more our chances are to be in contention,” Pederson said. “Britt is not big into stats or details, so I have to figure out how to best consolidate that information, to get us exactly where we need to be.”

Lincicome’s growing comfort with clubs she can attack with is helping her confidence through a round.

“I’ve most noticed consistency in her mental game, being able to handle some of the hiccups that happen over the course of a round,” Pederson said. “Whereas before, something might get under her skin, where she might say, `That’s what always happens,’ now, it’s, `All right, I know I’m good enough to get this back.’ I try to get her in positions to hit the clubs we are really hitting well right now.”

That’s leading to a lot more birdies, fewer bogeys and more appearances on leaderboards in the start to this year.