Maui No Ka 'Oi Magazine September-October 2014 - September-October 2014
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Golfing Lanai

One island. Two courses. Endless possibilities.

Ocean view from Golf Course on Lanai.

Ocean view from Golf Course on Lanai.

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When it comes to golf, Lanai gives you two unbeatable choices: mauka (inland) and makai (ocean).

For the former, imagine swinging beneath towering pines on a layout that winds through naturally carved canyons. The Experience at Koele invites golfers to embrace the course as a mountain playground.

Alternatively, whip out the SPF 50 and head seaward, where salty breezes and postcard-worthy views are guaranteed from every tee at The Challenge at Manele.

These sister courses are decidedly distinctive, and equally enticing. In which case, choosing just one might not be enough. Happily, you don’t have to choose.

“You can play two totally different courses, with two totally different feels, all on the same island — and in fact, in the same day. That’s the beauty of golfing on Lanai,” explains Emmett Markulis, head professional at The Experience.

Here’s what to expect.

The Challenge at Manele

The Challenge hugs a jaw-dropping expanse of Pacific coastline, sprawling across lava outcroppings and snaking through rugged stands of kiawe trees. Mother Nature set the foundation; golf legend Jack Nicklaus added his own design touches, including a generous dose of undulating fairways, elevated greens, and doglegs that keep things, well, challenging.

The crashing surf along Hulopoe Bay taunts golfers from tee Nos. 12 and 17, where the only way across is over open ocean. Miss the green, and you’ve just made a donation to the golf-ball graveyard 150 feet below.

It’s a layout that plays with your head. Not to worry, says Markulis; many sections simply look scary.

“From the tee boxes, the fairways appear narrower than they really are,” he says. Nicklaus “did a good job at creating some optical illusions and making the course look more difficult than it is.”

In fact, the course is as tough as golfers choose. Each hole offers a choice of five tee boxes, and distances of anywhere from 5,024 to 7,039 yards.

Serious golfers aren’t the only ones attracted to The Challenge’s signature 12th hole. “All kinds of people get married here,” says Markulis. And then there are the merely curious, who flock here to see the spot where Bill and Melinda Gates were married in 1994.