Experience at Ko‘ele • Hole No. 17
444 Yards • Par Four
Course Designers: Greg Norman and Ted Robinson
“It’s dramatic, to say the least.”
Director of Golf,
Castle & Cook Resorts, LLC.
Carved from a forested ravine near the summit of the island of L¯ana‘i, this scenic hole drops 250 feet from tee to green, and challenges golfers to control the urge to “grip it and rip it.” Hazards include a lake and waterfalls on the right side of the fairway, and a seventy-foot-tall sentinel eucalyptus that guards the front of the three-tiered green. Bent grass makes for straighter putts on the green, and means golfers can shoot for the hole, confident their ball will check up. Thick trees shield the tee box from strong trade winds that sweep left to right across the fairway.
Lana‘i pro Doug Stephenson says No. 17 is the resort’s signature hole for good reason.
“It’s dramatic, to say the least,” Stephenson says. “Your tee shot is going to drop down into the base of that gorge. It’s a beautiful hole; it’s pretty spectacular.”
Not long after the Experience opened in 1991, course designer Greg Norman hosted fellow golf legend Jack Nicklaus to a fun match. Nicklaus was nursing a sore back, and on No. 17, the Golden Bear sliced one tee shot after another into the lake. He hacked away until he was out of balls. Norman threw one of his and Nicklaus hit it out into the fairway. Nicklaus left the tee box with a shrug and a smile.
How to Play It
This challenging hole requires average golfers to hit four good shots to make par. The tee shot is the key to a low score.
“You need to aim your tee shot to the left side of the fairway for a couple reasons,” Stephenson says. “You want to avoid the water on the right, and the trade winds come funneling through that valley. They are going to blow your ball to the right. Aim to the left side and let the wind bring it back to center.”
He says the approach shot is more uphill than golfers think. “It plays more than a club different because it is uphill. The green is three tiers, so make sure you check the pin placement and aim for the right level.”