Getting on the green

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


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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.


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Hole # 16, Makalei GC, Big Island, HI

Hole # 16, par 4, Blue tees, 423 yards

Peacock at Makalei

Peacock at Makalei

If you are a bird watcher and love nature then you have to make it out to Makalei GC on the Big Island in Hawaii. One of the things that you will remember about playing here is the amount of peacocks, both male and female walking around. There’s even the occasional wild turkey and quail, along with NeNe, Hawaii’s state bird.

There’s a lot of locals playing here but not much tourists. I’m a tourist and I love playing here because of the ocean vistas, wildlife and the great course layout. Holes # 14, 15 and 16 all share the same water hazard but on hole # 16, water hardly comes into play because you’re teeing off away from the lake. It’s a slight dogleg right and you can literally bomb it out there.

Hit a straight tee shot and you’ll be in good shape for your approach to the green. At 423 yards, you’ll have a hybrid to a green that is well protected with sand bunkers. Sometimes to make a play, it’s a good idea to hit a shorter iron to lay up then leave yourself a wedge to the green. I know, no GIR but it gives you a chance to par the hole. Par is a good score for this hole.


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Hole # 16, Hapuna Golf Course, Big Island, HI

Hole # 16, par 3, Regular tees, 157 yards

Hapuna Golf

Hapuna Golf

Some holes are plain simple. Now that’s not saying Hapuna Golf Course on the Big Island, Hawaii is easy. This course is not easy but hole # 16 can be. At 157 yards from the regular tees, it is not usually my favourite 6-iron shot. Today the wind isn’t as strong so I can go for the pin. Other days, the wind can blow off the ocean and there’s no way to get it close.

Pin placement is important too. I don’t like it when it is #2 because it is right up front. I like to draw my shots so having the pin in the back helps me with a roll. Luckily, I hit it sweet today and the ball is short but it hops up to the green. I’m putting again for a birdie after double bogeying the last two holes.

Did I make the putt? Yes I did. I end up with a 44 on the front nine and 44 on the back nine for a 88 score. I’m proud of myself for doing that.

How did you do? Let me know by leaving me a comment.


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Hole # 7, Hapuna GC, Big Island, HI

Hole # 7, par 3, Regular tees, 135 yards

Some holes are plain simple. Now that’s not saying Hapuna Golf Course on the Big Island, Hawaii is easy. This course is not easy but hole # 7 is. At 135 yards from the regular tees, it is usually my favourite 9-iron shot. Today the wind isn’t as strong so I can go for the pin. Other days, the wind can blow off the ocean and there’s no way to get it on the green.

Pin placement is important too. I like it when it is #2 because it is in the back. I like to draw my shots so having the pin in the back helps me with a roll. Luckily, I hit it sweet today and the ball curls around the green towards the pin. I’m putting for a birdie after bogeying the last two holes.

Did I make the putt? Yes I did. I end up with a 44 on the front nine and 44 on the back nine for a 88 score. I’m proud of myself for doing that.

How did you do? Let me know by leaving me a comment.


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Hole # 12, Kona CC, Ocean Course, Big Island, HI

Hole # 12, par 3, Ladies tees, 133 yards

Kona CC, Ocean Course

Kona CC, Ocean Course

Teeing off on the Ocean Course in Kona CC is a treat because the hole parallels the ocean. With a stiff breeze, 133 yards plays longer than it is. This is one course that if your spouse doesn’t play, it’s worth paying $25 for the rider’s fee because some of the holes plays alongside the ocean and the views are spectacular.

I’ve played other ocean courses before but this one is my favourite. Right before the “puka” hole which is hole # 13, the short par 3 on # 12 is easy for the ladies. I hit onto the green with my 8-iron. Two putt for an easy par. My husband has it harder as he has 167 yards from the white tees. He’s not hitting his 6-iron very well these days so he comes up right of the green. He has a tricky chip because he can’t keep his eyes off the surf. It’s too much for him so he duffs the shot. Two putts later, he walks away disappointed with a double bogey.


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Hole # 6, Makena Golf Course, Maui, Hi

Hole # 6, par 4, White tees, 364 yards

P1080964Choices, choices, choices. That’s what runs through your mind when you play hole # 6 on Makena. Off the tee box, you can see that there’s two landing spots. The reason is because there is a natural ravine that cuts the fairway in half. Left side versus right side. I think it takes both sides of your brain to think this one through.

Driving the ball to the left side makes sense because the green is also on that side. However, the ravine looks wide and deep and I’m not sure if I can hit it that far. On the right side, the ravine doesn’t look so far away but it will leave a hard shot to an elevated green. I’m going to choose the right side today. I tee up the ball and take one more look, just to visualize my shot as it flies over the ravine. I hit it sweet and surely, the ball drops safely on the right side of the fairway. I gather up my nerves and get into the cart.

My ball ended up alittle more right than I wanted, but then it is safe. I’m left with 160 yards to the green, not my favourite club to get a GIR with. I wished I drove it further to leave me with a 8-iron or a 9-iron but no luck. My second shot comes up short, probably because of the cross wind that blows constantly on the island of Maui. I have to chip on and try to save par. I fail and end up with a bogey.


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Hole # 6, Puakea GC, Kauai, HI

Hole # 6, par 3, White tees, 156 yards

Elevated Par 3

Elevated Par 3 – Hole # 6

If you didn’t get your feet wet on hole # 5 on Puakea, you will get a second chance on hole # 6. From the white tees, the yardage is only 156 yards but with the elevation drop, it’s about 125 yards. I have to admit, it takes guts to hit a 9-iron to the green when you think you have to carry 156 yards. It’s almost better not to know the distance and just use your intuition.

Worst case is that you hit too much club and end up at the back of the green or off. A PW is definitely too little for me to reach the green so I choose a 9-iron. I setup and keep my head down.  A pull or push would have easily landed me in one of those greenside bunkers. And coming up short would be wet. A nice easy swing and the ball is on the green for a birdie opportunity.

We drive down the slope carefully and four balls await us. Greens are pretty fast here so we take our time and take aim. Four balls, three birdies and one par – not a bad day.

Have you played Puakea before? If so, please add your comments on hole # 6.