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Kapalua: Hawaiian Culture, Dramatic Setting

When Kapalua informed me that The Plantation Course was shutting down for nine months for renovations last year, I could only come up with one question. Why?

As the host course for the PGA’s annual Sentry Tournament of Champions the first week of January, The Plantation Course was chosen for a reason to kick off the new year. Not only is the course one of the most enjoyable layouts you’ll ever play, you’re blessed with a scenic backdrop that is rivaled by only a handful of courses around the world. In other words, if you had only one course to play for the rest of your life, then The Plantation Course would be at or near the top of your list.

So, why change things?

According to Head Professional, Michael Castillo, the changes only make the course better. “Through the refinement project of Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw, we carefully removed selected vegetation that opened up many of the views and vistas,” said Castillo. “As a result, this exposed more of the golf course for the players and allows them to enjoy and understand how large and unique this golf course truly is.”

Castillo continues, “Many of the forward tees that were added has made the golf course much more enjoyable for all skill levels and the adjustments to the green contours has added as many as 4-5 additional hole locations that has given the PGA Tour and our golf course maintenance staff more options.  Plus, the approach of the refinement project has brought the course back to a more traditional and pure golf experience. This refinement cements The Plantation Course’s position as a Top 100 golf course in the country and makes it a “bucket-list course” unlike anything in the world. From the ground it is built on to the design of the course to the amazing views, it is truly spectacular!”

Consistently ranked as the #1 golf course in Hawaii, The Plantation Course was designed on a grand scale in keeping with its location on the slopes of the West Maui Mountains and offers dramatic ocean views from virtually every hole.  Its lengthy 7,596 yard Par 73 layout challenges the pros but it’s wide fairways and generous greens make it very playable for the average golfer. With dramatic elevation changes, this course offers plenty of downhill tee shots. You’ll feel like one of the pros when, with the aid of  the aggressive slope of the 18th fairway, you will enjoy hitting one of the longest drives of your life.

But the course has so many good golf holes in addition to the 18th.  The front nine hits you dead square in the face on the 3rd and 4th holes, uphill Par 4s that require a great tee shot, while the Par 4 6th hole provides a blind tee shot with a huge vertical drop.  Fun!

The back nine also has greatness written all over it but the devilish 301 yard Par 4 14th hole might take the most skill due to a small green and into a prevailing ocean breeze. The 17th is world famous, with a fairway nearly 100 yards wide but you better hit the speed slot if you want to have a much easier approach.

And, yes, then there’s the 18th, a hole that the course was actually built around, if you can believe it. Get the big dog out and let ‘er rip because at 677 yards, this amazing Par 5 demands an equally impressive second shot before you hit your approach that runs fast and away from back to front and from right to left.  It’s the way a round is supposed to end.

The beauty of Kapalua is that there’s another magnificent piece of work across the road. The Bay Course opened in 1975 and has hosted over 20 major professional tournaments – the most of any neighbor island course in the state of Hawaii.  From the first live prime-time televised event in golf at the 1983 Kapalua International to the Kapalua LPGA classic some 25 years later, The Bay Course has consistently faced the best players in golf and withstood the test of time and technology.

Great champions and stories have emerged here, such as Greg Norman’s first win on America soil, Ian Woosnam and David Llwellyn’s thrilling victory for Wales in the World Cup of Golf and Morgan Pressel’s nail-biting win at the Kapalua LPGA classic. Two of the most popular PGA players ever, Fred Couples and Davis Love III, have each earned victories here – twice.

The Bay Course is a championship course that is as challenging as it is beautiful. Known for its breathtaking 17th hole, the only hole to play over the ocean on Maui, it should certainly be on the “must play” list for any golfer visiting Maui.

The Kapalua Golf Academy is Hawaii’s most complete state-of-the-art golf school and practice facility, designed by PGA Touring Professional, Hale Irwin. The golf academy and 23-acre practice area provide golf instruction in all aspects of the game—putting, chipping, wedge and bunker play, specialty shots and the full swing.

Additionally, Kapalua’s dedicated staff of PGA Professionals offer a full spectrum of instructional programs: individual golf lessons, corporate clinics, golf schools, daily clinics and custom off-site instruction.

So now that you know where to play, you need to know where to stay and Kapalua is blessed with possibly two of the finest resorts you’ll ever find.

Set on 24 lush acres along the pristine alcove of Kapalua Bay, Montage Kapalua Bay offers all resort guests the space and comfort of a private home through its signature resident-style accommodations. The resort is also home to privately owned residences. Guests and homeowners can enjoy the diversity of activities that the destination offers, from the pure relaxation of Spa Montage to private chef experiences in-residence.  An array of active pursuits are also available, including the best snorkeling in Maui just steps from the resort, paddle boarding, hiking and, of course, playing two of the most famous courses in the region.

The Hawaiian culture resonates through the genuine service at the resort and residences, as well as through the exquisite interior design elements.  Inspirational details were carefully crafted throughout, filling spaces with neutral color palettes and touches of vivacious floral tapestries reminiscent of the natural beauty and history of Maui. The spacious layouts create the perfect setting for entertaining or spending valuable time with family against the backdrop of splendid Maui sunsets.  Each residence is truly a rare treasure, offering generous private lanais and some of finest ocean views you will find.

Just a short hop down the road and boasting 54 stunning acres, The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua proudly maintains the Honokahua Preservation Site, a recognized “wahi pana” (sacred site) that lies adjacent to the resort and serves as a destination where Native Hawaiians can gather to conduct ceremonies and protocol.

In addition to this beautiful sanctuary the resort offers guests 466 newly reimagined hotel rooms, suites and Club Level accommodations featuring dark wood floors, marble bathrooms, island-modern décor and designs as well as six dining experiences featuring local ingredients from the resort’s sustainable organic garden, fresh seafood and Pacific cuisine.

The Ritz-Carlton Spa®, Kapalua featuring treatments inspired by ancient Hawaiian traditions and an array of body treatments, massage and facials, and a fitness center with cardio equipment and daily fitness classes so that you may “e malama kou kino,” which translates to “care for your body” while on Maui.  On-property and nearby recreational activities include tennis courts, basketball court, swimming, surfing, boogie boarding, sailing, kayaking, outrigger canoeing, stand-up paddling, as well as whale watching, snorkeling, hiking and more via the Ambassadors of the Environment program.

Now that you have all the details on Kapalua, what are you waiting for?

Book it, Danno !!!

Story by Larry Feldman