Lanai course to get Nicklaus touch; Maui's Makena reopening as private

By Mike BaileyJanuary 8, 2014, 10:27 pm

And now there's just one -- golf course, that is, on the Hawaiian island of Lanai. That's because The Experience at Koele shut down for renovations on Monday, leaving just The Challenge at Manele as the only remaining open course on the small island 45 minutes via ferry from Maui.

The Koele course, designed by Greg Norman and opened in 1990, sits on the side of a mountain, 1500 feet above sea level. Not only will it get new turf, new irrigation and new greens, but a dramatic redesign by Jack Nicklaus, who did the other Four Seasons course on Lanai, The Challenge at Manele, which opened in 1993.

The two courses couldn't be more different. While The Challenge, built on the lava cliffs overlooking the Pacific, has thrived, The Experience has struggled, much of it due to water restrictions imposed by the island of 3,200 residents. Not only have many of the water features on this once-stunning course dried up, but turf conditions over the past few years have also deteriorated.

Although details of the redesign were not currently available, the new course will address those water issues. Additionally, Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison, who purchased the island in 2012, is currently constructing a desalination plant, which should help alleviate water concerns, especially when it comes to irrigating the golf courses. Plans also call for another hotel and additional development. 

Nicklaus' prints should be all over the new course. That means new bunkering, greens complexes and some completely new holes.

"I think the big thing with Koele is you have an amazing piece of land in the mountains," said Scott Ashworth, who came aboard a couple of weeks ago as the new director of golf for the Four Seasons Resort Lanai. "They're going to open up some incredible views.

"Aside from the design changes, what you will see is much better turf conditions," said Ashworth, the former pro at Kauai Lagoons. "It'll go from conditions that were a little tough to hopefully world-class playing conditions."

Officials are considering grassing the course with paspalum wall to wall, except for greens, which would remain bentgrass. The course can support bentgrass because temperatures are considerably cooler at Koele than at sea level. The course is expected to reopen in December.

In addition to the golf course renovation work, The Challenge Clubhouse has a completely renovated restaurant, now called "Views." As the name would suggest, the restaurant, which has new furnishings, and a new bar area, provides panoramic views of the golf course and Hulopo'e Bay.

Maui's Makena set to reopen, go private


Over on Maui another renovation is also underway. Last summer, the Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed golf course at Makena Beach & Golf Resort was shut down for renovations. Offering some of the best views on the island, it too, had begun to deteriorate and needed a facelift.

Unfortunately, for visiting golfers, when the course opens, it will be fully private. Architect Dennis Wise, a former senior associate for Tom Fazio, is in charge of the redesign.

Jerry King, the new director of golf at Makena, couldn't offer up many details about the renovation, but you can be sure it will retain many of the features of the old course, including the par-3 fourth hole or downhill par-5 15th, which offer incredible vistas of the Pacific. King, formerly the director of instruction and guest relations at Kapalua, said a soft opening for members is expected in March or April.

The work is part of an ongoing commitment to change by the resort's owners, the Landmark Hotels Group, which has been making significant improvements to the 25-year-old property since it purchased it in 2010. Whether the new course ever opens to resort play remains to be seen. (Resort guests can currently play the other courses at Wailea.)

One possibility down the line could be limited outside play, similar to what goes on at King Kamehameha Country Club, which is laid out along the side of the West Maui Mountains. Offering panoramic views of the ocean below, it's billed as the island's only fully private course, but because it's looking to build membership still, visitors can play there once or twice.

King Kamehameha is currently offering a package that pairs the Ted Robinson-designed gem with its sister course, Kahili, which is open to the public. The two-course package runs $300, which sounds like a lot of money if you're used to paying green fees on most of the mainland, but on Maui, that's a bargain. And when you see King Kamehameha and experience its exclusive country club treatment, which includes one of the best locker rooms on the planet, you'll agree. The package is available through

Video: Ginella on what to do on Oahu's North Shore

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Watch: Daly makes birdie from 18-foot-deep bunker

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 11:14 pm

John Daly on Friday somehow got up and down for birdie from the deepest bunker on the PGA Tour.

The sand to the left of the green on the 16th hole at the Stadium Course at PGA West sits 18 feet below the surface of the green.

That proved no problem for Daly, who cleared the lip three times taller than he is and then rolled in a 26-footer.

He fared just slightly better than former Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill.

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Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

“I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

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Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.

Made Cut

Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

September can’t get here quick enough.

Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

“I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “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.”

The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

“My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.

Missed Cut

Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

Tweet of the week:

It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.