Article: Kauai Lagoons Course
By Wayne Halm –
The Kauai Lagoons Golf Course is a delight to play. From arrival it is a class experience, there is shuttle service from the Marriott and Lihue Airport. The Pro Shop is first rate and the entire staff friendly and helpful. The carts have a GPS system providing yardage to the pin, yardage to the front and back of the greens, and of particular importance to players like me, yardage to clear the traps. Ice and bottled water are provided on the carts and the snack shop staff is happy to additionally provision golfers on the first tee and the turn.
At par 72, the 6160 yards from the whites is plenty of course for my level of play. Occasionally I let someone talk me into the 6647 yard blues, but I demand strokes for that. The 6977 yard gold markers are simply a curiosity to players like me.
The fairways are in great shape. Most are generous; however a few do have seemingly magnetic OB stakes on the right. Numerous fairway traps make many tee shots interesting; by studying the GPS I can avoid most of them, and, if I don’t get too greedy, I advance the ball out of the others. Of interest to golfers at my level, the roughs are also very playable.
The greens are large, in excellent shape, and have a comfortable speed to them. The grain on the greens always runs toward Mount Haupu. Don’t worry, the grain is mild, it affects the speed more than the path of the ball. Have the starter point out the mountain anyway. For bogey golfers there can be some really long putts but the ball rolls true; careful reads are essential, especially near the cup.
My 230 yard tee shots provide a realistic chance of reaching half of the par 4s in two, the other half rewards the long knockers; however they too must still deal with the ubiquitous greenside traps. I can’t even think about getting on any of the par 5s in two, though I have seen it done, if I don’t mess up I can do it in three. The par 3s are not overly long but each has a fixed visible terrain distraction, and a variable invisible problem, the wind.
The course has a couple of ‘over the ravine’ shots. These are pure head games; the carries are not all that long. If I put the ravine out of my mind, line up carefully, and keep my head down I can easily clear the ravines. Even so, I use an old ball.
The 16th hole is simply spectacular. The tee boxes are high on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Mount Haupu, and Nawiliwili Bay; I have watched whales breaching from there. The fairway goes out for around 170 yards then falls steeply to a beautiful hidden green down by the bay. At 330 yards even golfers like me can use the down slope to drive this green. I’ve done it once and the resulting Eagle more than made up for all of the double and triple bogeys I’ve posted trying; it’s not a safe shot, or even a smart shot, however the temptation is all but irresistible. Recently I saw this hole featured on the cover of a golf book sporting a $125 price tag, inside there were gorgeous pictures of Pebble Beach and other upscale courses; but they choose this hole for the cover. Yes, it is that special.
When the trades are blowing the last two holes require careful attention and extra clubs, a lot of extra clubs. I suppose it is possible to be long on the approach shots to these greens, but I have never seen it done. I have watched a lot of balls fall short into the lagoons; think extra clubs here.
The Kauai Lagoons course is a satisfying experience for a bogey golfer like myself. There are holes where par is definitely within my capability, holes that stretch my capability, and still others where I have to just have to manage the course and take my stokes. Beating my score is common and apparently a lot of fun, however I can’t take all of the credit for the smiles; even the low handicappers seem quite happy to post a net 72 here.
This course is challenging without being brutal about it. Kauai Lagoons should be on everyone’s list of courses to play. For tee times call 800-634-6400 or visit http://www.KauaiLagoonsGolf.Com.
Come play golf with me.