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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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.

The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.

There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm