The Kapalua International
by Chuck Furjanic of Golf Collectibles

About nineteen years ago, when I tried to play as many different courses as I could in order to acquire score cards, pencils, and ball markers, I was invited to spend a week on the island of Maui by my brother - who was living in Kihei at the time. Naturally, I wanted to play as much golf as I could, but when I realized that my budget for the trip would be inadequate to cover the even-then expensive green fees, and when I learned that I would be forbidden to walk the course of my choice, I decided to find something that I would like. That something turned out to be the Maui Lua Golf Course.

The Maui Lua Golf Course was not one of those spectacular tournament type championship courses with artificial lakes, buttressed sand traps, and huge slick greens which were designed by such architectural notables as Robert Trent Jones, Dick Wilson, or Pete Dye. It was just a very unpretentious nine hole course adjoining the Mau Lua Hotel on the inland part of Maui and bereft of huge waves crashing against jagged rocks below, shorebirds wheeling and careening above, or gigantic palm trees gently swaying in the tropical breezes. But I liked it.

Some golfers would probably have referred to it as a "short course". There were almost as many par threes as there were par fours, and none of those par fours were over 400 yards long. But it had a certain rustic charm to it - even in Hawaii! The fairways were deceptively rolling and hilly, there were plenty of trees all around, and the greens were small and slow. And there were no cart paths to abruptly remind you that technology had thrust its artificial tentacles into what once was a solely pastoral experience. You just walked up to a little booth adjoining the first tee and paid your three or four dollars to the young Hawaiian girl inside and got a scorecard, a pencil, and a ball marker.... what else? There were also a few rental clubs available for guys like me who hadn't brought their own clubs along.

But what got the butterflies churning in your stomach was the anticipation of the unknown, the realization that you were embarking upon a journey into a strange place, the satisfaction that for the next two hours or less there was nothing else in the world but you, the golf course, and the challenge of doing something well. We cherish these moments forever.

And I still cherish that brief foray into the realm of island golf - as fleeting and as distant as it was - and I look back with nostalgia to an event which was unique for its once-in-a-lifetime quality.

The Maui Lua Golf Course is no more. How could it be, with real estate being so valuable in "The Islands," and so many "bigger and better" courses around? That golf course is probably a host of condominiums now, or another huge hotel, or a big shopping center. But we don't want to know about that; we want to know about those other courses. Among the other course, the Waiehu Municipal Course would be the next step up from the Maui Lua. It has a full eighteen holes at 6330 yards and the green fees are $25. You can walk it if you are a purist, or you can rent a cart and roll merrily along; the cart costs half as much as the green fees. Next in order of opulence would be the Pukalani Country Club at 6494 yards and green fees at $60. The carts there are the same price as they are at Waiehu. At Kihei - where my brother still lives - you can roll; your way along the 6400 yards of the Silverwood Golf course for $65, including that cart.

From here on out the carts are mandatory (or at least included in the green fees) and you are looking a hundred dollar bills plus. the Waikapa Valley Club is a par 72 of 6200 yards and almost $100. For $110. you can play the 6823 yards of the Makena Golf Course with a par of 72 also. $125 will get you eighteen holes of more par 72 golf over the 6152 yards of the Wailea Blue Course. And that brings, finally, to the Kapalua Golf Club.

The Plantation Course of the Kapalua Golf Club, where the Kapalua International will be played, was designed by Ben Crenshaw - one of the few tour golfers who is also an avid collector as well as a keen bird watcher (So am I, Ben.) It is considered a big course - a par of 73 over 6547 yards - because it is spread out over a former pineapple field and it features wide fairways and huge greens. To show his respect for the links-type courses of the British Isles, Crenshaw left the fronts of the greens unguarded by bunkers in order to encourage the old fashioned run-up shots. These shots come into play quite frequently because the winds are usually consistent and quite strong on this course. An opportunity for this type of play becomes apparent on the 305 yard fourteenth hole, which is downwind and offers a good chance for an eagle. On the final hole, a par 5 of 663 yards - downhill and also downwind - a free automobile is offered to the player who can put his second shot closest to the pin on Saturday. And Hula-Hula dancers will be there to celebrate that accomplishment.

And here come the those butterflies again! The Kapalua Resort is famous for its well-known logo: the butterfly. This symbol is visible on almost everything there: golf apparel, napkins, soap, etc. And - what is more - there is even an exotic drink named in its honor!

Kapalua.... Maui Lua... Hula Hula.... it's all Hawaiian to me.

Aloha nui loa: fondest regards.

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