Big Island's Hapuna Golf Course more than holds its own with nearby Mauna Kea

By Travel ArticlesOctober 9, 2012, 4:00 am

KAMUELA, Hawaii -- Any idea that Hapuna Golf Course is just the other venue at Mauna Kea resort on the Big Island is quickly dismissed once you start playing it.

It may not be as hard as its big-brother course -- Mauna Kea Golf Course, which is on the other side of the Queen Kaahumanu Highway -- but it's almost as pretty. And it's probably more fun, too, because it's not as difficult.

Not that the Arnold Palmer/Ed Seay-designed Hapuna is a pushover.

Although it's some 400 yards shorter than Mauna Kea Golf Course, it's still 6,875 yards with plenty of challenge off the tee and an ever-present breeze that can sometimes become quite formidable.

Still, once you find the fairways on this rolling spread that features more than 700 feet of elevation, the approaches and the greens are easier. And that translates into scoring opportunities and fun.

Plus, you can expect significant green-fee savings over Mauna Kea. And considering that the same superintendent now oversees both courses -- meaning course conditions at Hapuna are on par with Mauna Kea -- that's a pretty good deal.

'I think Hapuna is very underrated,' said Mauna Kea Head Golf Professional Johnny Eusebio. 'The thing about Hapuna is that even though it's not on the ocean, you can see the ocean from any tee or green.'

Views abound at Hapuna

Considered one of the most environmentally sensitive golf courses in Hawaii -- you'll see plenty of wildlife and a few domestic sheep -- Hapuna overlooks the Kohala Coast, the Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa volcanoes, and the Kohala Mountains.

The holes meander through mesquite and black lava beds, providing a striking contrast between green grass and surrounding native areas. And for the most part, the holes are isolated from each other, giving each playing group a sense of isolation.

You could take your pick of signature holes. You get a sense right away that they're all pretty interesting and scenic.

The third, for example, is a downhill par 5 that doglegs left around a lake.

The par-4 sixth not only features an ocean view but an unusual bunker left of the green that's sure to catch your attention.

The 11th is in another good par 5, this time making a turn uphill to the right to a green perched above the tee.

And the downhill 15th, with a row of palms glistening in the distance, provides another panoramic view of the sea in the distance.

Hapuna's finishing stretch is as good as it gets: The 17th and 18th are terrific par 4s, with the last hole playing 462 yards from the tips. The nice part is that from the front set of four tee boxes, 18 is just 338 yards, meaning the course truly is set up for all levels of players.

And the practice facilities -- with an extensive short-game area and range, as well as the clubhouse, which offers terrific dining -- are both top-notch.

Hapuna Golf Course: The verdict

This is one golf course you shouldn't skip if you make a trip to the Big Island. It's reasonably priced, super interesting and features one great view after another. While it's not right on the ocean, there are plenty of ocean views because of the elevated tees. It's also in terrific shape.

It's also very playable for all levels of players, although some of the tee shots can appear a little bit intimidating. All in all, it's a great changeup from its big sibling, Mauna Kea Golf Course.

Getty Images

Fowler (oblique) withdraws from playoff opener

By Will GrayAugust 15, 2018, 8:44 pm

The injury that slowed Rickie Fowler at last week's PGA Championship will keep him out of the first event of the PGA Tour's postseason.

Fowler was reportedly hampered by an oblique injury at Bellerive Country Club, where he started the third round two shots off the lead but faded to a tie for 12th. He confirmed the injury Tuesday in an Instagram post, adding that an MRI revealed a partial tear to his right oblique muscle.

According to Fowler, the injury also affected him at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, where he tied for 17th. After receiving the test results, he opted to withdraw from The Northern Trust next week at Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey.

"My team and I feel like it's best not to play next week in the Northern Trust," Fowler wrote. "I will be back healthy and competitive ASAP for the FedEx Cup and more than ready for the Ryder Cup!!!"

Fowler is one of eight players who earned automatic spots on the U.S. Ryder Cup team when the qualifying window closed last week. His next opportunity to tee it up would be at the 100-man Dell Technologies Championship, where Fowler won in 2015.

Fowler has 12 top-25 finishes in 18 starts, highlighted by runner-up finishes at both the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in the fall and at the Masters. He is currently 17th in the season-long points race, meaning that he's assured of starts in each of the first three playoff events regardless of performance and in good position to qualify for the 30-man Tour Championship for the fourth time in the last five years.

Getty Images

Playoff streaks in jeopardy for Garcia, Haas

By Will GrayAugust 15, 2018, 8:12 pm

Since the advent of the FedExCup in 2007, only 13 players have managed to make the playoffs each and every year. But two of the PGA Tour's stalwarts head into the regular-season finale with work to do in order to remain a part of that select fraternity.

Sergio Garcia has rarely had to sweat the top-125 bubble, but the Spaniard enters this week's Wyndham Championship 131st in the current standings. Left with even more work to do is former FedExCup winner Bill Haas, who starts the week in Greensboro 150th.

Garcia got off to a strong start in the spring, sandwiching a pair of top-10 finishes in WGC events around a fourth-place showing at the Valspar Championship. But quality results largely dried up after Garcia missed the cut at the Masters; he has made only two cuts in 10 Tour starts since April, including early exits in all four majors.

Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Garcia has some history at Sedgefield Country Club, having won this event in 2012 to break a lengthy U.S. victory drought. He also finished fourth in 2009 but hasn't played the Donald Ross layout since a T-29 finish as the defending champ in 2013.

It's been a difficult year for Haas both on and off the course, as the veteran was involved as a passenger in a car accident on the eve of the Genesis Open that killed the driver. He returned to action three weeks later in Tampa, and he tied for seventh at the RBC Heritage in April. But that remains his lone top-10 finish of the season. Haas has missed 11 cuts including three in a row.

While the bubble will be a fluid target this week at Sedgefield, Garcia likely needs at least a top-20 finish to move into the top 125 while Haas will likely need to finish inside the top 5.

One of the 13 playoff streaks is assured of ending next week, as Luke Donald has missed most of the year with a back injury. Other players to qualify for every Tour postseason include Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, Zach Johnson, Adam Scott, Bubba Watson, Justin Rose, Brandt Snedeker, Charles Howell III, Charley Hoffman and Ryan Moore.

Getty Images

Airlines lose two sets of Olesen's clubs in 10 days

By Grill Room TeamAugust 15, 2018, 7:50 pm

Commercial airlines losing the golf clubs of a professional golfer is not exactly a groundbreaking story. It happens.

But European Tour pro Thorbjorn Olesen is on quite the roll, losing two sets of clubs and five suitcases in the span of 10 days.

Olesen, the reigning Italian Open champ, claimed his primary set of golf clubs were lost last week. Having little faith they'd be found before this week's Nordea Masters, he decided to bring his backup set for the event in Sweden.

A veteran move by the 28-year-old, unless, of course, those clubs were lost too. And wouldn't you know it:

After pestering the airlines with some A+ GIFs, Olesen was reunited with at least one of his sets and was back in action on Wednesday.

He also still plans on giving his golf bag away to some lucky follower, provided it's not lost again in transit. Something he's no longer taking for granted.

Getty Images

Podcast: Brandel compares Tiger and Hogan's comebacks

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 15, 2018, 6:48 pm

Tiger Woods on Sunday at Bellerive recorded his seventh runner-up finish in a major and his first in nine years.

A favorite guest of the Golf Channel Podcast, Brandel Chamblee joins host Will Gray to compare and contrast Tiger's return to competitive golf with that of Ben Hogan and Babe Didrikson Zaharias in the 1950s.

Chamblee also discusses Brooks Koepka's major dominance, Bellerive as a major venue, Tiger and Phil as Ryder Cup locks, and who else might be in line to receive Jim Furyk and Thomas Bjorn's remaining captain's picks.

Finally, Brandel shares what it was it was like to qualify for the Senior Open Championship and compete for a major title on the Old Course at St. Andrews. Listen here: