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The Prince Course gets a royal facelift

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PRINCEVILLE, Hawaii -- Any hands-on homeowner will appreciate what’s going on at the Prince Golf Course at Hanalei Bay.

What was initially conceived as simply a “bunker renovation” has evolved into a massive project that’s turned the whole property upside down. 

So much for a little touching up. 

I showed up to the Prince in October to discover a clubhouse almost entirely gutted. Outside, workers were busy paving, seeding, grading and much more. 

The time is now for the Prince to step up its game. Just down the street, the Makai Golf Club at St. Regis Princeville reopened in 2010 with a phenomenal new course that upped the ante on Kauai’s north shore. 

The Prince, a popular pick by panelists as the best in the Hawaiian Islands, hasn’t been renovated since it debuted in 1990. 

The original architect of the Prince, Robert Trent Jones II, is overseeing the alterations and enhancements. Superintendent Derek Watts also came aboard, coming from Kapalua to spearhead the implementation of new, seadwarf paspalum greens,white G-3 basilica sand bunkers and an overall aesthetic enhancement. 

When completed, not only will the Prince look cleaner, but many fairways will be wider, too. Kauai’s north shore is lush and tropical, and the growth of native areas led to a lot of pinched playing corridors over the past 20 years. 

Crews have spent the last few months weed-wacking furiously - most notably on the par-4 12th hole, which had one of the course’s most intimidatingly small landing zones, amplified by the fact the tee box is high above it. 

Not only are they uncovering more fairway on the Prince, but other little jungly treasures. 

“We started to uncover things we didn’t know we had,” said Steve Murphy, Director of Golf at the Prince Course. In many cases on the Prince, fairways are framed by dense, tropical bush. By trimming into some of these areas, it revealed small creeks and running streams. 

The course should please the eye even more than before, and that goes for the scorecard, too. Upon reopening, average resort golfers will have more of a fighting chance on what has been considered one of the toughest courses in the world. But the Prince will still have plenty of bite. Not only will the paspalum greens play faster than before, but additional pin locations will be utilized. Many holes will unveil new back tee boxes to ensure scratch players who come for the ultimate test of golf get their fix. 

The Prince is currently scheduled to reopen December 14th, just in time for the Holiday peak season on Kauai.