Getting on the green

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

Leave a comment

Hole # 1, Kukuiolono GC, Kauai, HI

Hole # 1, par 4, 321 yards

After playing a great round at Wailua Golf Course, the municipal course in Lihue on the island of Kauai, we were told by a couple from Airdrie, AB to play a cute but challenging course called Kukuiolono. Like so many things in Hawaii, I looked up the course and found some interesting things about the course history. Back when sugar was harvested on Kauai, there once was a man named Walter Duncan McBryde. If you have been to Poipu then you have driven through the Tunnel of Trees. Was this a freak of nature or did someone plant these trees along the road? We have Walter Duncan McBryde to thank because he donated these eucalyptus trees about 150 years ago. The trees have since grown and provide a canopy over a mile of road.  Before passing on, Walter wanted to create a park for his mill workers and families to enjoy so he staked out a piece of land that overlooks the ocean. The park is in Kalaheo and most of its residents had worked for Walter McBryde. Part garden and part golf course, this land has sweeping views of the ocean and Kauai below.

For a mere $9, you can play Kukuiolono as many times as you wish. The $9 is the “daily contribution” and you can go round and round from dawn to dusk. This is because Walter had left his life savings for the maintenance and operation of the golf course.

Teeing up on the first hole from the white tees, you can see that the perfect drive would be on the right side of the fairway because it is a dogleg left. Nervousness came over me and caused my ball to hook left. The other two guys did the same. From about 160 yards away, I did not have a clear view to the green. I decided to hit a low stinger below the branches and hope for the best. Unfortunately, my ball hit a few leaves along the way and settled short of the fairway in the rough. I had about 80 yards left so I decided to use my 56-degree sand wedge. Luckily it popped out clean and I was putting. I was amazed at how smooth the green was. The course is very well maintained for $9 and clearly, it is challenging.

Leave a comment

Hole # 6, Kauai Lagoons GC, Lihue, HI

Hole # 6, par 4, 399 yards

Hole # 6 Tee Box

Hole # 6 Kiele Moana

What does a monkey have to do with hole # 6 on the Kiele Moana course? Drive up, grab the big stick and head down to the tee box and you will see. By the way, it’s not a monkey but a gorilla.

Ok, it is clear now. This is a gorilla hole meaning that you have to be a gorilla to hit it over the trees and onto the fairway on the other side of the world. At least it looks that way.

At 399 yards from the white tees, it almost seems unfair. Hole # 1 was 491 yards and it was a par 5. Standing on the tee box, you feel like you’re standing on top of the world.

Take a deep breath, hit it good and let it fly. Stick to your fundamentals and you will be fine. Try not to cut the corner too much because it’s a long way across. A straight tee shot will work better. If you do feel like a gorilla, try it but be forewarned that there are sand bunkers to your right, just behind the bushes.

Over the gulley

Tee shot has to clear the gulley.

My playing partner is lucky for playing the forward tees. Again, her tee box is on the other side of the gulley where you can see the green. On the other side, I find my ball in the middle of the fairway. I had to look across at the tee box where I just came from, just to see what I had to endure.

This is truly a spectacular hole and a picture of it doesn’t give it justice. You have to play this to believe it.

Her drive is always down the middle. In front of me, I have to make sure my second shot doesn’t spray right. A group of trees on the left is forcing me to hit it high so I chose my 6-iron from 165 yards. I have been practicing this shot over the last week in Hawaii. It’s going to start to the right and slowly draw in to the center. Bam, it’s on the green and I have a birdie putt. My playing partner isn’t so lucky. She duffs her 3-wood and her ball ends up in the sand bunker up ahead. She normally hits it cleanly but this time, she faltered.

She would blast her way out but short of the green, leaving her a nasty chip to a rather large green. I tap it in for a birdie and she had to settle for a double bogey.

Leave a comment

Hole # 1, Kauai Lagoons GC, Lihue, HI

Hole # 1, par 5, 491 yards

The staff at Kauai Lagoons Golf Club in Lihue on Kauai are so friendly that on a quiet day, you feel like you own the place. At least that’s what I would like if I ever won a lottery and bought the course from the Marriott. After checking in with the starter, they will give you a bucket of balls to warm up on. You can putt or you can head out to hole # 1. Because it’s a resort course, they will often let you out on your own rather than team you up with strangers.

Hole # 1 on the Kiele Moana course is a long par 5. At 491 yards from the white tees, the green is a long ways off. The fairway is nice and wide so your first shot doesn’t have to go down the middle. I am hitting my Taylormade Burner with a 10.5 degree loft and stiff shaft. With a slight draw on my driver, I end up in the middle. My playing partner Cynthia is teeing off with a Taylormade Superfast driver with a 13.5 degree loft. She always hit it down the middle – you know the type.

Both of our balls come up about the same. I am hitting my 4-hybrid and she chooses her 3-wood. With only 120 yards left, I chose my 9-iron and dropped the ball next to the pin. She had about 110 yards so she went with her PW. She also made it safely on the green. Both of us are putting for birdie and talk about birds. There are roosters, chickens and chick-a-dees everywhere. Kauai certainly is overrun by chickens. They don’t get in the way but they do make a lot of noise.

I two putt in for a par. She lipped out and had to settle for a bogey. That’s a nice start to a great round in Kauai.

Leave a comment

Hole # 5, Kauai Lagoons GC, Lihue, HI

Hole # 5, par 3, 170 yards

There are three 9-hole courses at Marriott’s¬†Kauai Lagoons Golf Club in Lihue designed by Jack Nicklaus. When you fly in to the Lihue airport during the day, you can see golfers practically underneath the plane because some of the fairways are adjacent to the runways.

Hole # 5 on the Kiele Moana course is a challenging par 3. All three tee boxes are located on one side of the gulley while the forward tee is on the other side where the green is located. When you drive up to the tee, the green looks like it’s a mile away. What?! It’s a par 3? Luckily for me, I left my ego in the car and came to play the white tees which is difficult enough. Besides, I am playing on a limited supply of golf balls. When you come to the island to play golf, you don’t pack a lot of balls because it weighs down your luggage and you can buy more on Kauai if you really need more.


Even from the white tees, the hole plays longer than 170 yards. Today, it looks more like 185 yards so I am hitting my 4-hybrid. I want a club that will give me the confidence of clearing the gulley. The only way I am going to lose my ball is to pull or push my shot because there’s trouble left and right of the hole. The green looks like it is sitting on a mountain with slopes on all sides. Coming up short is trouble. But since the forward tee is on the other side, you have plenty of room to the right of the green in case you have too much club.

I hit first and it was a good one. I would hit the edge of the green and roll back slightly. Hopefully, I can chip it close. My playing partner tees off from the other side of the gulley. Lucky for her. She hits a beautiful shot to the green. From the forward tees, it’s 137 yards and too much club is trouble. She hits the green with her 8-iron.

We are both on. I am putting for par and she for birdie. I come up short and bogey the hole. She two putts and pars it.

Leave a comment

Hole # 1, Wailua Golf Course, Lihue, HI

Hole # 1 par 5, 520 yards

If you’re looking to play an ocean course at a reasonable rate then head out to Wailua Golf Course on Kauai. Just 10 minutes north of Lihue and before Kapaa, the Wailua Golf Course is a pleasure to play. First of, you can’t go wrong with a $50 green fee in the afternoon. Second, you play right next to the ocean on holes # 1 and # 2.

Hole # 1 is a beautiful long par 5, slight dogleg right. When you tee off, you think you’re hitting toward the ocean but you’re actually playing parallel with the beach. Try to keep your tee shot straight. If you happen to slice it off the tee, your ball will come to rest among the trees that line the fairway. In most cases, you’ll find your ball because it isn’t a dense forest that is on your right.

The fairway is free of sand bunkers so blast away. There are only two sand bunkers at the green but there’s an entire beach on the whole left side of the fairway. The wind can play havoc on your shot so take that in account on club selection.

If you hit the green in three then you’re in for some easy putting. The greens are relatively slow and if it’s raining, it’s slower than molasses.

Leave a comment

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.

Leave a comment

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.

Leave a comment

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.

Leave a comment

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.