Buckle up golfers: Hawaiian island of Lanai is a drivers' delight

By Travel ArticlesMarch 23, 2012, 8:14 pm

LANAI, Hawaii -- Ever dream of a place where the fairways outnumber the roadways? This is it.

The smallest and least-populated of Hawaii's half-dozen tourist-friendly islands, Lanai boasts 36 holes of championship golf -- the Challenge at Manele and the Experience at Koele -- and only 30 miles of paved road.

You'll rarely encounter any traffic at the first tee. You'll never see a stoplight.

This is, by all definitions, a drivers' island.

Lanai, which is only 18 miles long and 13 miles wide, was once owned by fruit mogul James Dole and littered with plantations, producing up to 75 percent of the pineapple exports in the entire world.

For the past two decades, golf has been a driving force in an effort to re-brand what was once known as 'Pineapple Island' as a private paradise for sun-seeking tourists. The island is serviced by air from Honolulu and by passenger ferry from Maui.

Golf courses on Lanai

Despite a permanent population of around 3,000 and only about 350 hotel rooms, Lanai can lay claim to a pair of top-notch golf options. In fact, according to Golf Digest's latest tally, two of the top golf resorts in North America -- the Four Seasons Lodge at Koele (T14) and the Four Seasons Lanai at Manele Bay (18) -- are located eight miles apart on this sliver of unspoiled land.

With distinct layouts, landscapes and even climates, the Challenge at Manele and Experience at Koele could be on different continents, although it's obvious both were designed with vacationing golfers in mind.

The views are great. The landing areas are generous. For the most part, you'll use your cart to climb the hills and then bash your ball back toward the bottom.

You don't need to be Bubba-length to post a solid score, but heavy-hitters will have a heyday on Lanai.

Take for example the eighth hole at the Experience at Koele, a 308-yard test -- and just 280 from the resort tees -- that tempts low-handicappers to peel the cover off their big stick and fire at an island green. Course designer Greg Norman reportedly required a mulligan to land his drive on the dance-floor, and it's not often you have an opportunity to one-up the Great White Shark.

The cliff-hanging 12th is the undisputed signature hole at the Jack Nicklaus-designed the Challenge at Manele, but the finishing stretch includes a couple of thrill rides for long-ballers. By the time your ball stops rolling down the hill at the 458-yard 16th, you'll be shocked how close it is to the green. Don't let the added distance go to your head, though, because you'll have choose an appropriate line over the cliffs on the next hole.

Undoubtedly, the biggest buckle-up moment comes on the second-to-last assignment at the Experience at Koele, the high point -- and highlight -- of the tree-lined layout. From the elevated launch pad at No. 17, there's a 200-foot drop to the fairway below. It'll feel like your ball is in the air forever, and with dense brush and a pond on either side of the landing area, you might wish it would just stay up there.

Crazy part is, that doesn't have to be the most exhilarating drive of your day.

Lanai: Off-course, off-road 

Located on the same corner as Lanai City's only gas station is its only rental car agency, where you'll find a parking lot full of 4x4s available for afternoon adventures. Forget economy or compact options, the only debate here is soft- or hard-top.

While the traffic on tourist-heavy highways elsewhere in Hawaii might occasionally remind you of the morning commute back home, you could probably burn a quarter-tank of gas without seeing another vehicle on Lanai.

The most popular destination for explorers is Keahiakawelo, or Garden of the Gods. After a bumpy 40-minute ride on a red dirt road, you'll roll up to this natural rock garden, a one-of-a-kind landscape that could be used as the set for a movie about Mars.

Another must-see spot is Kaiolohia, better known as Shipwreck Beach because several vessels have run aground nearby. In fact, a World War II Liberty Ship was 'parked' not far from the shore in the 1940s and its rusted hull is still peering out of the choppy water.

There's pavement for the majority of the half-hour trip to Shipwreck Beach, but you'll need a Jeep to navigate a sandy road at the end of the route and then some sturdy footwear to get a good glimpse of the boat.

The scenery at both Garden of the Gods and Shipwreck Beach is fascinating, but getting there is more than half the fun.

Lanai is, after all, a drivers' island.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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: