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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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.