Golf Tips From the 12th Hole: Lana‘i at Manele Bay

Whatever you do, don’t look down. Do carry an extra club and ball, just in case. Here’s why.

May 29, 2012
12th Hole, The Challenge at Manele
On the signature 12th hole of this Jack Nicklaus course, the “fairway” is the ocean.
Photography courtesy Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

Course: Four Seasons Resort Lana‘i at Manele Bay, The Challenge at Manele

Signature Hole: 12, par 3

Why It Is Unique: Set on bluffs above the crashing surf of Hulopo‘e Bay, The Challenge at Manele is an outstanding Jack Nicklaus signature course that lives up to its name. Built on terrain that includes finger-like lava outcroppings, it features three holes on cliffs, each of which uses the Pacific Ocean as a water hazard—more than any other course in the state of Hawaii. From the longer of the five tee boxes, even the best golfers are challenged by numerous tee shots over natural gorges and ravines. As a result, par is a coveted score on the signature 12th hole, one of this cliff-top trio, a par-3 playing 202 yards from the tips. In between tee and green is nothing but a “fairway” of surging ocean at the bottom of an abyss.  Yet the hole plays well to all abilities, with well-staggered choices between 65 and 185 yards from the other four tee boxes. “I think Nicklaus was ultimately trying to provide a very intimidating and challenging golf shot with a very gratifying reward for pulling it off,” says Emmett Markulis, head golf professional at Four Seasons Resort Lana‘i at Manele Bay. “Jack was perfectly successful in that regard: When you get on that tee box, you can’t help but want to give it your best shot.”

Tip: “Even with the standard trade wind generally working in your favour from behind the tee, you will want to take an extra club, because the back of the hole slopes up behind the green to provide a backstop of sorts, and long is definitely better than short on this one,” Markulis says. The reason? Anything short essentially ends up in the water. There is some landing area right of the green, so “you can bail out a little to the right side, but anywhere left of the green is a lost ball, so take a little extra club, and take the left side out of play. But just in case, bring along an extra ball, as it’s all carry.”

Don’t Be Distracted By: “Intimidation—as in standing 150 feet above the surging ocean crashing below the tee,” Markulis says. The view can “wow” golfers on the tee, since Nicklaus set out to provide an awe-inspiring vista, carving his signature hole out of a cliff atop the Pacific Ocean.

Previous Signature Hole: Tips From the 8th Hole: Maui Wailea Gold Course

Next Signature Hole: Four Seasons Resort Vail, Red Sky Ranch

See all signature golf hole tips.


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