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Maui's Fantasy Nine Golf

Article by Don Chapman

If this fantasy Maui 9-hole golf course actually existed on the Valley Isle, maybe you’d want to play it and maybe you wouldn’t. Because while the beauty of Maui takes your breath away at almost every glance—verdant green mountains, whales leaping offshore, Technicolor green fairways and Ultra-Brite bunkers—this is a rather dark fantasy. Call it the Nasty Nine, an all-star bad-boy selection from Maui’s 13 courses including 4 where the PGA, LPA and Champions Tours have teed it up. We prefer to play 18, but in this case nine is enough. Then go directly to the 19th hole. For immediate first aid, a beer cart will be roving the course.

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Makena North No. 6, Par 4

The uphill 6th is a textbook example of option golf. And while it’s shortish (just 364 yards from the tips) there’s trouble aplenty. Off the tee, architect Robert Trent Jones Jr. gives you a choice of two fairways divided by a gaping ravine that must sooner or later be crossed. The safer play is to the right. Then worry about that ravine on the second shot. If you choose to go left first, the carry is longer, and the fairway narrower, but the angle of approach to the green is better. Good choices, right?

Wailea Blue No. 8, Par 4

Designer Jack Snyder demands a strong drive from an elevated tee here, avoiding two bunkers toward which the fairway slopes. The second shot is uphill, the fairway narrowing as you go, to a deep green protected by bunkers on all sides. Leave your approach shot above the pin at your own peril.

Kapalua Bay Course No. 5, Par-3

Nothing instills more fear in the heart of the average golfer, said legendary Scottish teacher Tommy Armour, than water. What architects Arnold Palmer and Francis Duane give you here is a tee, a green, and sparkling blue Oneloa Bay in between—oh, and butterflies in your stomach. The green, what there is of it, is just 33 paces deep. Narrowing at the back, it’s guarded by bunkers front, right and behind. Enjoy the scenery!

Makena South No 10, Par-5

The elevated tee here makes the landing area between a lake and a long bunker appear even smaller—classic Trent Jones Jr. sleight of hand. With the green protected front and left by a lake and two bunkers to the right, you’ll prefer a good tee shot to set up a tactical second. Hit your approach from the right, taking the lake mostly out of play. From the fairway, the green seems even shallower than it is.

Kaanapali North No. 18, Par 4

Legendary architect Robert Trent Jones Sr. is at his strategic best here. The 18th is long and plays into the usually prevailing trade winds, which can push a sliced drive into the lake on the right. Take it down the left side, flirting with out-of-bounds. The lake snakes all the way up to the green, which is guarded back, left, and front by four bunkers.

Makena South No. 16, Par 4

With waves breaking on the shore to the left, the beach and ocean are in play from tee to green. The fairway slopes toward the sea, with out-of-bounds awaiting on the right. Thanks to a hump in front of the green, the approach is semi-blind—Trent Jones Jr. took a page from his father’s playbook. It’s tough to judge distance since you can’t see the bottom of the pin. Arriving safely on the green is no bargain; it’s multi-tiered and treacherous.

  read more: Maui Golf Fantasy Continued... >>