Golf Tips From the 8th Hole: Maui Wailea Gold Course
Got a camera? A golf expert recommends using one to help you set your shot.
Signature Hole: 8, par 3
Why It Is Unique: Wailea Golf Club’s marquee Gold Course offers fantastic ocean vistas from nearly every hole, but the par-3 eighth may be the most scenic of them all and tends to the favourite of most visiting golfers. The green has an absolutely beautiful ocean backdrop that is framed and enhanced by the coconut trees lining the course, and golfers on the tee can see the island of Kahoolawe and Molokini islet, the crescent-shaped lip of an undersea volcano that just breaks the surface and is a hugely popular site for snorkelling expeditions. Additionally, the hole has a huge disparity of yardages for a par 3, playing short from the front tees (107 yards), mid-length from the middle sets (154 and 188 yards) and quite long from the back (216 yards), as opposed to the more typical 10- to 15-yard spacing between tees, making it a much different experience for players of varied skills.
Tip: “You may want to preview the hole from the gold [back] tees, even if you don’t normally play from the back,” advises Rusty Hathaway, Wailea’s head golf professional. “The back tees are 60 yards behind the whites, but looking at it from there lets you see the hole the way the course architect, Robert Trent Jones Jr., envisioned it. It changes your perspective of the green and the way you may want to approach it. Stunning views aside, Gold number eight can be visually tricky, so after you take a photo of the hole, put aside your camera and take a minute to set yourself up for your tee shot. The green is fairly large, but it sits 20 to 30 yards below the tee boxes, slopes upward from front to back, and is ringed by several bunkers. From most of the tees, your shot will need to carry a large lava rock wall, so despite the downhill, consider taking an extra club to reach the green.” Given the generous landing area, and the fact that the green’s slope will stop shots more quickly, it is almost always better to be long than short here. And one more thing: “Be sure to check the wind.”
Don’t Be Distracted By: The ocean views and offshore islands are not the only eye-catching elements of the eighth. The lava rock wall between the tee boxes and green was built several centuries ago by the Hawaiian people, prior to their contact with Westerners. “They’re called papohaku, and they can be found in several places throughout the Gold course,” says Hathaway. “The course was carefully designed and built around these rock walls in order to preserve them for their historic interest. The Hawaiians used no mortar to hold these walls together, and yet large portions remain intact today. It’s an impressive example of their building skills.”
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