Review of the Month January 2020 – Kapalua (Plantation)
Here I am in cold, dark mid-winter, post Christmas blues, but luckily there is a burst of sunshine and joy on my TV screen. The annual Tournament of Champions provides a welcome slice of escapism, transporting me back to the tropical paradise of Maui every January.
First, the obvious stuff. Kapalua is the most spectacular course I've ever played. Sea views are always good, but here the Pacific with the view of Molokai is pretty special. The 11th captures this perfectly, with its infinity green and ocean back drop, it's also a good hole if the flag is tucked behind the left bunker, tempting you to go pin seeking.
Secondly, the scale of the property is vast. It's the longest course I've ever played (apparently the longest on tour) with the largest changes in elevation. The fairways are incredibly wide and some of the greens are huge. I've played plenty of courses with ravines or gorges to carry, but at Kapalua they're three times deeper than anywhere else. You also find yourself travelling significant distances between some of the holes - a buggy really is necessary.
Despite all this "bigger is better" golf, you don't have to be a bomber to enjoy it. Sure, standing on an elevated tee like 17 or 18, looking at a wide downhill and downwind fairway you just want to unleash the driver. But then there are short par 4s like 10 and 14 where you need to think very carefully.
Your normal yardages go out of the window on this course, with the huge amounts of roll and changes in elevation, not to mention the trade winds which were blowing pretty strong when I played. I managed to handle this pretty well, but the greens killed me, I’m just not used to dealing with so much grain (although I understand the latest renovation has included relaying the greens with less grainy grass).
It might not be for the traditionalists, but this course is just pure fun for me.
Review of the Month January 2020 selected by Editor-in-Chief, Keith Baxter, and sponsored by TaylorMade – click to read more about Kapalua (Plantation).