Maui's Makena Golf Course shuts down for renovation

By Mike BaileyApril 2, 2013, 2:37 pm

Having just returned from Maui, where I played Makena Golf Course among several others, I was a little surprised to learn that the Robert Trent Jones Jr. design was being shut down for a year for renovation. Landmark Hotels Group, which owns and operates the Makena Beach & Golf Resort, closed the course on Sunday, and it isn't expected to reopen until the first quarter of 2014.

My first question is will the course be redesigned, and will the routing remain the same? When it comes to incredible views, Makena Golf Course doesn't take a back seat to anybody on Maui with vistas of the ocean and 10,000-foot Mount Haleakala on just about every hole.

And as for the holes, there are lots of great ones, as you might expect with the backdrop the sea and elevation change throughout. I can't imagine, for example, that they would significantly alter the par-3 fourth or fifth, with views back to the ocean so good you almost want to three-putt. Or the 620-yard downhill par-5 14th, which looks like you're hitting your tee shot right into the Pacific. But I do agree that some of the holes, like the finishing hole, for example, seemed a little lackluster, and the turf could use updating. And the competition next door at Wailea Golf Club's three courses -- especially the Gold and Emerald -- is pretty stiff.

Shawn Sweeney, president of The Landmark Hotels Group, said it's a multi-million dollar improvement and the design elements will be true to the natural beauty of Makena, with its kiawe forest, indigenous trees, ancient rock formations, and natural streams. It will remain one of Maui's only sea to mountain golf courses.

As for who is going to do the redesign, that announcement hasn't been made, but it seems like it will make sense if Jones or perhaps another member of his family oversee the redo. According to Glynis Esmail, spokesperson for Landmark Hotels, there will be significant changes, but details aren't available at this time. She said an announcement as to who will do the work as well as more details should come in the next couple of weeks.

One aspect that will stay is the popular Cafe on The Green, which also has some incredible views. It will remain open daily for lunch, afternoon snacks and early dinner throughout the golf course transformation. The hotel's shuttle will be available to take guests to and from Cafe on the Green, ranked by consumers as one of the best restaurants on Maui.

This golf course work follows a renovation recently completed at the hotel and resort. When Landmark bought the property in 2010, it embarked on a widespread makeover of the 25-year-old resort. It included guest rooms, fitness center, restaurants, gardens and public areas. Located on Maui's southeastern end, the 1,800-room beachfront resort has 310 rooms.

Watch: Fleetwood gets emotional with family after Race to Dubai win

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 19, 2017, 5:30 pm

Tommy Fleetwood took home the season-long Race to Dubai title on Sunday after a T-21 finish at the DP World Tour Championship.

He was, understandably, emotional after learning his fate while sitting with his wife and baby following a career year in which he won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship and the French Open and finished fourth at the U.S. Open.

Luckily for us, cameras were rolling:

Matsuyama after Koepka rout: 'Huge gap between us'

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 4:22 pm

Hideki Matsuyama offered a blunt assessment after finishing 10 shots behind Brooks Koepka at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix event.

Koepka waxed the field en route to successfully defending his title in Japan, shooting a 20-under par total that left him nine shots clear of a runner-up group that included PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele. Koepka's score was one shot off the tournament record, and his margin for victory eclipsed Tiger Woods' eight-shot romp in 2004.

Matsuyama appeared set to make a final-round charge after a birdie on No. 2 was followed by an ace on the par-3 third hole. But he played the next eight holes in 3 over and eventually finished alone in fifth place following a 2-under 69. Afterwards, he stacked his game up against that of Koepka in a telling comment to the Japan Times.

"I feel there's a huge gap between us," Matsuyama said.

The Japanese phenom entered the week ranked No. 4 in the world, though he will be passed in the next rankings by Jon Rahm following the Spaniard's win in Dubai. Matsuyama won twice this year on the PGA Tour, including the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but he has largely struggled since missing out on a maiden major title at the PGA Championship, where he tied for fifth.

Matsuyama was a runner-up to Koepka at the U.S. Open earlier this summer, and the 25-year-old seems headed back to the drawing board before defending his title at the Hero World Challenge in two weeks.

"I don't know whether it's a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well," Matsuyama said. "It seems there are many issues to address."

McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.

Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.

Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.

While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.

Rahm wins finale, Fleetwood takes Race to Dubai

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 1:42 pm

Jon Rahm captured the final tournament on the European Tour calendar, a result that helped Tommy Fleetwood take home the season-long Race to Dubai title.

Rahm shot a final-round 67 to finish two shots clear of Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Shane Lowry at the DP World Tour Championship. It's the second European Tour win of the year for the Spaniard, who also captured the Irish Open and won on the PGA Tour in January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

"I could not be more proud of what I've done this week," Rahm told reporters. "Having the weekend that I've had, actually shooting 12 under on the last 36 holes, bogey-free round today, it's really special."

But the key finish came from Justin Rose, who held the 54-hole lead in Dubai but dropped back into a tie for fourth after closing with a 70. Rose entered the week as one of only three players who could win the Race to Dubai, along with Sergio Garcia and Fleetwood, who started with a lead of around 250,000 Euros.

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With Fleetwood in the middle of the tournament pack, ultimately tying for 21st after a final-round 74, the door was open for Rose to capture the title thanks to a late charge despite playing in half the events that Fleetwood did. Rose captured both the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open, and was one round away from a two-trophy photo shoot in Dubai.

Instead, his T-4 finish meant he came up just short, as Fleetwood won the season-long race by 58,821 Euros.

The title caps a remarkable season for Fleetwood, who won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship as well as the French Open to go along with a pair of runner-up finishes and a fourth-place showing at the U.S. Open.

"I find it amazing, the season starts in November, December and you get to here and you're watching the last shot of the season to decide who wins the Race to Dubai," Fleetwood said at the trophy ceremony. "But yeah, very special and something we didn't really aim for at the start of the year, but it's happened."