Getting on the green

Blogging about some of the world's best golf holes.

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Hole # 17, Wailua Golf Course, Lihue, HI

Hole # 17, par 3

P1040324One of the reasons why golfers choose to lug their golf bag to Kauai is to play by the ocean. Instead of shelling out $450+ for green fees at Pebble Beach, you can play Wailua Golf Course for about $50 and get the same feeling as you would at Pebble. On hole # 17, you can see the crashing waves of the ocean as you prepare to get on the green from 173 yards. From any of the three tee boxes, you are treated to a spectacular view that consists of a green fairway, undulating green, sand bunkers and ocean.

Hole # 17 is no easy hole because with the crashing waves, you have wind playing off the ocean and it’s not just blowing right at you. It’s swirling left to right then right to left. Look at the flag and see that the wind is blowing opposite from what you think. Just do it.

Take a club worthy of getting you past those sand traps that guard the green and you’ll be putting. Don’t take anything that you can’t land softly, otherwise your ball will be on the beach. And there’s no chance of playing from there, unlike at Pebble Beach.

Get on the green or come short and chip on. Aim for a par and be happy.

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Hole # 18, Poipu Bay Golf Course, Poipu, HI

Hole # 18, par 5, White tees, 550 yards

DSCN5591From the tee box, this finishing hole may not look very intimidating. But wait until you drive up to your second shot. Hole # 18 on the Poipu Bay Golf Course in the south part of Kauai is a beautiful hole to finish on.

Most days in Poipu starts off sunny so if you happen to play this course dry then you are lucky. The locals will tell you that Poipu is the sunniest location on Kauai.

Your second shot should be a lay up avoiding the lake on your left and sand bunkers to your right. Try to position yourself about 100 yards in so that you have a short wedge to get on the green. This would give you the best opportunity for a birdie putt.

Enjoy the drive into the 18th green. Be sure to wave to your left as patrons in the restaurant are watching your approach. Don’t get nervous, tip your hat or wave like Tiger Woods or Vijay Singh when they played here at the Grand Slam of Golf from 1994 to 2006.

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Hole # 5, Kauai Lagoons GC, Lihue, HI

Hole # 5, Kiele Mauka 9, Kauai Lagoons GC, par 3, White tees, 176 yards

DSCN5510If you like challenges and ocean holes then get on the plane to Kauai and play this spectacular par 3. This hole will take your breath away, especially when your ball clears the Pacific Ocean and lands on the other side of the cliff. Hole # 5 on the Kiele Mauka 9 at Kauai Lagoons Golf Club is a beautifully designed hole by Jack Nicklaus. From the white tees, it measures 176 yards but with the Kauai harbour on your left and cliff in front of you, it is truly a breath-taking hole.

I chose to go long, just in case there were wind and plenty of it too. Just look down at the jagged rocks below and see the surf crash along the shore. I hit a 4-hybrid and made sure I kept my head down. The execution was perfect. The ball sailed straight across the cliff and was pin high to the right of the green. I would putt on and in for a par.

My playing partner also cleared the cliff and landed back of the green. She chipped on using her lob wedge and had to settle for a bogey.

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Hole # 1, Puakea Golf Course, Lihue, HI

Hole # 1, par 4, Blue tees, 390 yards

When playing on Kauai, leave your ego in the car and plan to play the white tees because when the wind starts to blow, a simple 300 yard hole plays like 600 yards. The starting hole at Puakea from the blue tees is no easy hole. A straight drive is critical as you have a road to your left and part of the driving range on the right. I normally drive the ball 250 yards but with a strong wind, I was left with over 200 yards to the green. From the middle of the fairway, there is a small creek running down the fairway and across your approach. It’s intimidating as there is rough on both sides so I decided to lay up. I hit a 9-iron sweetly and left me an easy wedge shot to the green. Again the wind was blowing hard so I chose alittle more club than needed.

There was a lot of air time as the wind played the ball. Luckily when it dropped out of the sky, it landed softly and beside the hole. I had a 6 foot putt for par. I didn’t spend any time on the putting green and it showed. My first putt came up short and my second putt lipped out. I had to settle for a bogey.

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Hole # 5, Dunes at Maui Lani, Maui, HI

Hole # 5, par 4, Blue tees, 334 yards 

When you’re talking to your buddies, 334 yards sounds like a short par 4. But tell them to play the Dunes at Maui Lani and see if they stay dry. Hole # 5 is one tough hole because off the tee, you don’t see that your tee shot can easily go swimming. From the tee box, all you can see is undulating fairways. Little do you know it, the lake is easily reachable. From the blue tees, water comes into play at 213 yards.

With the wind against my face, I chose to hit a 3-wood. Luckily it didn’t balloon and stayed low to the ground. By the time we drove up, my ball had settled about 10 yards from the lake. It was close and I had to take a deep sigh of relief. I had about 130 yards to the green so I chose my 9-iron with a slight draw. It bounced in front of the green and rolled on. I would have a 10 foot putt for birdie.

Dunes at Maui Lani is a beautiful course to play. It doesn’t get much traffic because everyone is playing the Kaanapali and Wailea courses near the ocean. If you’re looking for some good advice including playing lessons for this course and pretty pictures, be sure to visit our website.

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Hole # 18, Waikoloa Village GC, Big Island, HI

Hole # 18, par 5, Regular tees, 497 yards

Waikoloa Village GC

Waikoloa Village GC

If you’ve played either one of the two Waikoloa golf courses, either the King’s Course or the Beach Course, don’t think the village course is just around the corner because it isn’t. It is another 20-30 minutes away so leave yourself some time to get there. Get back on highway 19 and head north then turn right on Waikoloa Road. Drive east until you’ve reached Paniolo Street. Make a left then another left to get to the course.

The Waikoloa Village golf course is nothing like the King’s or Beach course because it is more for the locals than the tourists. Because it is more inland, you will get some ocean vistas but you’re pretty much away from the ocean shores. Hole # 18 is a nice finish to a good round. First time playing here, I was surprised by the layout. It was actually pretty enjoyable and I will surely return for another round.

Reaching the tee box, you have to hit a straight drive because there’s water all on the right side. It appears really narrow so I botched up my drive. Next time, I would hit a 3-wood but this time, I would end up hitting 2 shots to get about 120 yards from the green. The green is sitting across the canal, almost like an island green so it’s intimidating. I would miss my GIR but I have one putt to make a par. I would miss and settle for a bogey which I was happy on getting. I really didn’t deserve a par for playing so badly on this hole. But like I said, I would return on a heart beat.

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Hole # 17, Big Island GC, Kailua Kona, HI

Hole # 17, par 3, White tees, 144 yards

Island Green, # 17

Island Green, # 17

Off the tourist track and into residential communities, the Big Island Golf Club is a really nice course to play. Just click on the link and check out the fly over. When you drive up to the course, there’s a hidden gem sitting off to your right. Shrouded in a forest of trees is an island green – hole #17 awaits you.

Only 144 yards from the white tees, this island green is hard to hit. But if you do play it, try to get out in afternoon when there are less members bearing down on you. To get on the green, you need to be in Zen mode. Relax, take a deep breath and don’t try to look up. Trust your swing and let it go. Keep your head down and hear your ball land softly on the green.

I chose a 8-iron and it carried the water to the middle of the green. My wife had only 107 yards from the green tees so she used a 9-iron to get there. It’s a rush when you get on so enjoy the walk to the green. Close your eyes and feel as though you just played the island green at TPC Sawgrass in the Players’ Championship. Same as on the Big Island GC, the signature #17 hole is the most memorable and most recognizable hole on the whole golf course.