Five things to know about golf on Maui

By Brandon TuckerJanuary 2, 2013, 9:14 pm

The Plantation Course at Kapalua is in the spotlight during the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, but there's a lot to learn about the collection of golf courses on Maui.

1. The Plantation Course is hardly indicative of what to expect on Maui golf courses. One of the most striking aspects of the island is how quickly the environment can change, even by driving just a few miles along the coast. Just minutes south of jungly, green Kapalua (a former pineapple plantation), Lahaina has a drier climate more suitable for sugar cane - and the golf courses at Ka'anapali play lower to the ocean so the wind is generally not as much of a factor.

Head south to Wailea and Makena, and you'll discover some of the sunniest, calmest holes in all of the Hawaiian Islands. The Wailea Emerald Course may very well be the world's most perfect 'resort course' thanks to a playable-yet-interesting design to go with an unmatchably beautiful and calm setting. These south Maui courses sit at the base of 10,000-foot Mt. Haleakala, which shields the brunt of any inclement weather passing through.

2. You can play golf on the (relative) cheap in Maui. Even though the top resort courses are $200-300 a pop, no visitor should feel priced out of a golf experience on Maui. Two of my favorite bargain courses on the island are the Dunes at Maui Lani and Kahili. Both are centrally-located daily fee facilities that deliver everything you want in a Hawaii golf experience: great ocean views, a challenging layout plus good service and facilities in a more casual and affordable atmosphere.

Other bargain options on Maui include Pukalani, set high up into the foothills of Mt. Haleakala, as well as Kihei's local course, Elleair.

Window Shopping: Golf under $100 on Maui

3. It's easy to get around Maui. Maui is such a traveler's favorite destination in part because there is so much to do within such a small area, and that includes every golf course. From the northernmost course, Kapalua to southernmost Makena, it's a wonderfully scenic, coastal drive that doesn't take much longer than an hour.

But if you plan on playing as many of the 10-plus courses you can in Maui, consider staying in either Kihei or Lahaina. These are two of the most bustling resort hubs and more centrally located so you can drive as much or as little as you want for golf.

4. Maui golf courses have some incredible clubhouses. The Plantation's clubhouse serves up phenomenal views of the 18th and first holes, but you would be silly to head straight to the car after a round on a Maui golf course, as many of them have tremendous 19th holes. King Kamehameha, a marvelous private club, loftly set in the West Maui Mountains that offers limited daily public play, has the finest of the bunch: a 74,000-foot Frank Lloyd Wright-designed masterpiece (visitors will also enjoy member-pricing on food & beverage, which is a good break from resort prices). 

Wailea's main golf clubhouse, recently redone several years ago, has fine dining at Gannon's - A Pacific View Restaurant. Next door, the Old Blue clubhouse is home to Mulligan's, a more casual Irish pub where you can watch football and soccer on HD TVs. Makena also revamped its clubhouse and now offers the open-air Cafe on the Green, which has a Hawaiian atmosphere to go with a fantastic south Maui view.

In Photos: The Best of Maui golf

5. Singles can find a game, somewhere on Maui. One phenomenon in Maui are regular skins games that, while catering to the locals, are a good option for the many golfers who come to Hawaii with their non-golfing spouse.

Venues and schedules for the skins game can change throughout the year, so you'll want to make a phone call to some courses and ask when the next one is. The games have a buy-in but don't worry, you'll likely pay a reduced green fee that more than makes up for your pot donation.

Another option for the non-bettor is Ka'anapali's FIT Club, a twilight program that welcomes golfers to play all month for just $50. It's a walking-only program that kicks off at 4 p.m. While the FIT Club was designed to be a six-hole loop, the shop at Ka'anapali doesn't seem to put up much of a fuss if you stay out on the course until sunset. So play fast. 

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.