Ka'anapali Kai shines on it's own amongst deep Maui golf scene

By Travel ArticlesFebruary 9, 2012, 5:00 am

LAHAINA, MAUI, Hawaii -- Bigger isn't always better, especially in the golf world. Take Ka'anapali Golf Resort, for example. With two 18-hole layouts, it's a wonderful place to tee it up. Of the two golf courses, Royal Ka'anapali gets the majority of the rave reviews. At 6,700 yards, this par-71 layout is quite a test.

But players need to remember that the sister course, Ka'anapali Golf Resort's Kai Course, is also a tremendous golf challenge. How tremendous? Well, it was featured in the Golf Channel's 'Big Break Ka'anapali' show where some of the world's top women golfers took on the 6,400-yard Arthur Jack Snyder layout. And it will certainly provide a stern test to even the best players.

'It was always considered the 'other' course,' Head Professional Sutee Nitakorn said. 'But after the recent renovations (by Robin Nelson), it's considered just as good a course as the Royal.'

How good? 'The greens are very, very consistent, and the views are great,' Nitakorn said. 'It's a course that is getting more and more play. And it's getting great reviews from players.'

It's time to grab your clubs and tee it up.

Ka'anapali Kai: On the course

Ka'anapali Kai is a golf course for the thinking man (or woman). The elevation changes and wind conditions and direction make club selection a challenge. Here, 150 yards doesn't always mean that 7 iron. If you're hitting to an elevated green or into the wind, you've got to take that into consideration.

During the round, players' senses will be bombarded. Lava rock outcroppings, canals and gulches add to the challenge of the course, while native wildflowers border the course as pines, and coconut trees stand tall along the fairways.

Kai's first hole is one of the most level holes on the layout. At 376 yards from the tips, it's a solid starting hole. A good drive will set up a short iron into a green fronted by a bunker. Two good shots will give players an early birdie putt. Then hang on, because the wild ride is about to begin.

'The course is shorter, by design,' said Nitakorn. 'But just because it's shorter doesn't mean it's a pushover. You have to think your way around on this course. End up on the wrong side of the fairway, and you leave yourself a difficult shot to a protected green.'

The second hole is a par 4 at 370 yards that climbs dramatically up to a green perched high above the fairway. Contrast that with the par-3 third (225 yards) that drops some 30 feet to the green, and you get a great idea of the rolling course ahead of you. With canyon carries, dense foliage, water features and smooth bunkering, the Kai Course will test your ability from start to finish.

The 18th on the Kai Course is a simple-looking, 348-yard par 4. But what it lacks in length it more than makes up for in difficulty. Water runs down the left side of the fairway, and a lagoon guards the front of the green with three bunkers surrounding it. It may look easy, but pin-point accuracy with the approach shot is the key to finishing the round strong.

Ka'anapali Kai: The views

The views are second to none. On the 11th tee, players will see one of the most stunning views around.

This par 3 heads back toward the ocean. At 182 yards, it's not a tough hole until you factor in the menacing bunkers around the green and the pond to the right. While you're waiting to hit, check out the ocean in the background.

'You just may see the whales putting on a show,' Nitakorn said. This was one of the holes redesigned during the 2005 renovation to better take advantage of the view.

The Sugar Cane Train

On several holes, players on the Kai Course will see and hear the Sugar Cane Train, a vintage-looking locomotive used on tours of the area. Far from being a distraction, the train adds to the unique charm. The tracks border right next to the fourth green, and players just might get a rolling gallery while they are putting out. The railroad was once used to transport sugar cane from north of Ka'anapali down to the Pioneer Sugar Mill in Lahaina.

Ka'anapali Kai: The verdict

Hidden gem isn't the right term for the Kai Course at Ka'anapali, because it's not hidden at all. But gem definitely describes the course to a tee.

'It certainly complements the Royal Course,' said Nitakorn. 'But it also can stand on its own. It's a great test of golf with fantastic views.'

It's a course that has it all, from breathtaking views and scenery to enough rolling fairways and undulating greens to test even the best players.

'With the wind, the elevation changes and the undulating greens, you're going to find a beautiful, yet challenging, course,' Nitakorn said with a smile. 'And that's a good thing.'

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Romo set to make PGA Tour debut at Punta Cana

By Will GrayMarch 20, 2018, 6:43 pm

While much of the attention in golf this week will be focused on the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, Tony Romo may send a few eyeballs toward the Caribbean.

The former quarterback and current CBS NFL analyst will make his PGA Tour debut this week, playing on a sponsor invite at the Corales Punta Cana Resort & Club Championship in the Dominican Republic. The exemption was announced last month when Romo played as an amateur at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and he's apparently been hard at work ever since.

"I'll be treating it very serious," Romo told reporters Tuesday. "My wife will tell you she hasn't seen me much over the last month. But if you know me at all, I think you know if I care about something I'm going to commit to it 100 percent. So like I said. you'll get the best I've got this week."

Romo retired from the NFL last year and plays to a plus-0.3 handicap. In addition to his participation in the Pebble Beach event, he has tried to qualify for the U.S. Open multiple times and last month played a North Texas PGA mini-tour event as an amateur.

According to Romo, one of the key differences between pro football and golf is the fact that his former position is entirely about reactive decisions, while in golf "you're trying to commit wholeheartedly before you ever pull the club out of your bag."

"I'm not worried about getting hit before I hit the ball," Romo said. "It's at my own tempo, my own speed, in this sport. Sometimes that's difficult, and sometimes that's easier depending on the situation."

Romo admitted that he would have preferred to have a couple extra weeks to prepare, but recently has made great strides in his wedge game which "was not up to any Tour standard." The first-tee jitters can't be avoided, but Romo hopes to settle in after battling nerves for the first three or four holes Thursday.

Romo hopes to derive an added comfort factor from his golf in the Dallas area, where he frequently plays with a group of Tour pros. While Steph Curry traded texts with a few pros before his tournament debut last summer on the Web.com Tour, Romo expects his phone to remain silent until he puts a score on the board.

"I think they're waiting to either tell me 'Congrats' or 'I knew it, terrible,'" Romo said. "Something along those lines. They're probably going to wait to see which way the wind's blowing before they send them."

Romo will tee off at 8:10 a.m. ET Thursday alongside Dru Love and Denny McCarthy.

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Spieth vs. Reed random? Hmm, wonders Spieth

By Rex HoggardMarch 20, 2018, 6:42 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Monday’s blind draw to determine the 16 pods for this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play didn’t exactly feel “blind” for Jordan Spieth, whose group includes Patrick Reed.

Spieth and Reed have become a staple of U.S. teams in recent years, with a 7-2-2 record in the Ryder and Presidents Cup combined. So when the ping-pong ball revealed Reed’s number on Monday night Spieth wasn’t surprised.

“It seems to me there's a bit more to this drawing than randomness,” laughed Spieth, whose pod also includes Haotong Li and Charl Schwartzel. “It's not just me and him. It's actually a lot of groups, to have Luke List and Justin [Thomas] in the same group seems too good to be true. It might be some sort of rigging that's going on, I'm not sure.”

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Spieth will play Reed on Friday in the round-robin format and knows exactly what to expect from the fiery American.

“I've seen it firsthand when he's been at his best. And we have history together in a couple of different playoffs, which is a match-play scenario,” Spieth said. “I've got to take care of work tomorrow and the next day for that day to even matter. But even if it doesn't matter, trust me, it will matter to both of us.”

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U.S. Open champ Koepka (wrist) to miss Masters

By Will GrayMarch 20, 2018, 6:12 pm

Reigning U.S. Open champ Brooks Koepka will miss the Masters, according to a USA Today report.

Koepka has been battling a left wrist injury since late last year, and he hasn't played since finishing last at the limited-field Sentry Tournament of Champions in early January. Weeks later he revealed that he had a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU) tendon but hoped to return in time for the season's first major.

According to the report, Koepka only started putting this week and plans to begin hitting chips next week.

"They said I would be about 80 percent, but I can't play 80 percent," Koepka said. "I either have to go full bore or not at all. I don't want to risk getting it re-injured and then be out a long time."

Koepka has finished T-33 or better in each of his three prior Masters appearances, culminating in a T-11 result last year.

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Spieth's agent leaving firm, but keeping Spieth as client

By Rex HoggardMarch 20, 2018, 6:07 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Jay Danzi has stepped down as COO of Lagardère Sports U.S., and will take one of the game’s most marketable players, Jordan Spieth, with him.

In a press release, Danzi said, “after careful consideration I feel that it’s time for a new adventure.” Danzi will represent Spieth independently.

“It’s been a privilege having Jordan be part of the Lagardère Sports’ family for the last five years and watching him grow from a promising young player to someone who transcends the game,” said Steve Loy, Lagardère Sports president of golf. “We are also grateful for Jay’s contributions over the years, in golf and other areas of our business.”

Lagardère Sports underwent an aggressive expansion in recent years, acquiring numerous boutique firms including Danzi’s business and Crown Sports Management.

Although losing Spieth, the world’s fourth-ranked player, and Danzi, who took over as Lagardère COO in February 2017, is a setback, the firm still has a number of high-profile clients including Phil Mickelson, Jon Rahm and Patton Kizzire, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour this season.