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.