Buckle up golfers: Hawaiian island of Lanai is a drivers' delight

By Travel ArticlesMarch 23, 2012, 8:14 pm

LANAI, Hawaii -- Ever dream of a place where the fairways outnumber the roadways? This is it.

The smallest and least-populated of Hawaii's half-dozen tourist-friendly islands, Lanai boasts 36 holes of championship golf -- the Challenge at Manele and the Experience at Koele -- and only 30 miles of paved road.

You'll rarely encounter any traffic at the first tee. You'll never see a stoplight.

This is, by all definitions, a drivers' island.

Lanai, which is only 18 miles long and 13 miles wide, was once owned by fruit mogul James Dole and littered with plantations, producing up to 75 percent of the pineapple exports in the entire world.

For the past two decades, golf has been a driving force in an effort to re-brand what was once known as 'Pineapple Island' as a private paradise for sun-seeking tourists. The island is serviced by air from Honolulu and by passenger ferry from Maui.

Golf courses on Lanai

Despite a permanent population of around 3,000 and only about 350 hotel rooms, Lanai can lay claim to a pair of top-notch golf options. In fact, according to Golf Digest's latest tally, two of the top golf resorts in North America -- the Four Seasons Lodge at Koele (T14) and the Four Seasons Lanai at Manele Bay (18) -- are located eight miles apart on this sliver of unspoiled land.

With distinct layouts, landscapes and even climates, the Challenge at Manele and Experience at Koele could be on different continents, although it's obvious both were designed with vacationing golfers in mind.

The views are great. The landing areas are generous. For the most part, you'll use your cart to climb the hills and then bash your ball back toward the bottom.

You don't need to be Bubba-length to post a solid score, but heavy-hitters will have a heyday on Lanai.

Take for example the eighth hole at the Experience at Koele, a 308-yard test -- and just 280 from the resort tees -- that tempts low-handicappers to peel the cover off their big stick and fire at an island green. Course designer Greg Norman reportedly required a mulligan to land his drive on the dance-floor, and it's not often you have an opportunity to one-up the Great White Shark.

The cliff-hanging 12th is the undisputed signature hole at the Jack Nicklaus-designed the Challenge at Manele, but the finishing stretch includes a couple of thrill rides for long-ballers. By the time your ball stops rolling down the hill at the 458-yard 16th, you'll be shocked how close it is to the green. Don't let the added distance go to your head, though, because you'll have choose an appropriate line over the cliffs on the next hole.

Undoubtedly, the biggest buckle-up moment comes on the second-to-last assignment at the Experience at Koele, the high point -- and highlight -- of the tree-lined layout. From the elevated launch pad at No. 17, there's a 200-foot drop to the fairway below. It'll feel like your ball is in the air forever, and with dense brush and a pond on either side of the landing area, you might wish it would just stay up there.

Crazy part is, that doesn't have to be the most exhilarating drive of your day.

Lanai: Off-course, off-road 

Located on the same corner as Lanai City's only gas station is its only rental car agency, where you'll find a parking lot full of 4x4s available for afternoon adventures. Forget economy or compact options, the only debate here is soft- or hard-top.

While the traffic on tourist-heavy highways elsewhere in Hawaii might occasionally remind you of the morning commute back home, you could probably burn a quarter-tank of gas without seeing another vehicle on Lanai.

The most popular destination for explorers is Keahiakawelo, or Garden of the Gods. After a bumpy 40-minute ride on a red dirt road, you'll roll up to this natural rock garden, a one-of-a-kind landscape that could be used as the set for a movie about Mars.

Another must-see spot is Kaiolohia, better known as Shipwreck Beach because several vessels have run aground nearby. In fact, a World War II Liberty Ship was 'parked' not far from the shore in the 1940s and its rusted hull is still peering out of the choppy water.

There's pavement for the majority of the half-hour trip to Shipwreck Beach, but you'll need a Jeep to navigate a sandy road at the end of the route and then some sturdy footwear to get a good glimpse of the boat.

The scenery at both Garden of the Gods and Shipwreck Beach is fascinating, but getting there is more than half the fun.

Lanai is, after all, a drivers' island.

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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.