Played the Challenge 1st March 2013.
Treated like royalty from the moment I arrived.
After some beautifully prepared Calamari and a drink, overlooking the magnificent Pacific Ocean, I hit one of the best courses you could hope to play in Hawaii.
This course in one of the best presentation wise i have ever played.
Manicured fairways with greens like snooker tables bordered by lava fields of volcanic rock. All of these contrasts surrounded by the cliffs and waves of the Pacific almost make the golf secondary. It is easy to be distracted by the eye-catching views. Being lured into the beauty and romance of the location while the the design of the spectacular golf course tears your round apart is not easy to take. The location and natural elements combine to provide an unbelievable challenge.
But the course is something else.
Playing straight into the tradewinds on the 1st is a tough ask, with a 150 yard carry over a shallow ravine into 40-45mph winds.(This day was, according to locals, unusaully windy.)
Anyway, the front nine slowly twists and turns up the hill, as the views become better & better.
The course gets better & better too, with 172 yard 7th into the wind requiring a solid Hybrid to carry the ravine and wide front bunker. Play the 210 yard 8th with a 6 iron to a back pin, and this course throws you out of your comfortable club distances and forces you to play what is in front of you. The back nine lures you into a feeling you are striking the ball better than you ever have before, playing downwind from 10 through 13. With the 12th tee jutting into the Pacific Ocean and the required carry over the turbulent ocean below, landing on this green is a massive ego boost till you turn up the hill, into the wind on 14 & 15.
The finish of 17 & 18 has to be amongst the toughest 2 finishing holes ever created.
Straight into the (by this stage) 50mph gale.
17 shares it's tee box with the 12th but the carry from the tournament tee is something like 200 yards to a fairway that falls away to the ocean on the right. I flushed a flat, hard drive that went like a bullet and cleared the ravine by literally 3 feet. In the rough, on an uphill lie with 240+ yards to go. My double bogey, double bogey finish was, strange as it sounds, a solid finish. I carded a 79 off a four handicap and was ecstatic with the whole day.
All in all, this was a day i will never forget, on a course i will never forget. If you get the chance, PLAY IT.
It doesn't matter your ability, or the tee you play from. If you love golf like I do, JUST PLAY IT.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.