Friday, February 17, 2012

Warm-Up #4: Mauna Kea Golf Course

On Saturday we flew from Maui to the Big Island where we checked into the Hilton Waikoloa Village hotel. This was the third Hawaiian island we were visiting and I thought it was a great idea to take advantage of an opportunity to play golf on each of the islands. That turned out to be a good decision. 
It is quite evident you are visiting an island formed by a volcano upon landing at the Kona airport on the Big Island. The airport is built on top of a 200 year old lava flow that looks like it just cooled off last week. As we drove north along the shore to our hotel, the landscape was one big lava field. Hotel resorts looked like a lush oasis in the midst of the black lava. 

Lava field surrounding the Kona Airport (tower in the distance)

I selected the Mauna Kea Golf Course to play, while not as challenging as the Kapalua course it certainly was the most beautiful course I played in Hawaii.

Round: Warm-Up #4
Location: Kamuela, HI
Golf Digest Best-In-State Rank: #6
Date: 13 Feb, tee off at 11:00 AM
Conditions: partly cloudy, 8 MPH wind, 77 degrees
Yardage: 6,806
Lost balls: 3
Score: 87 on a par 72
Once again I was paired up with two other couples for the round of golf. Frank & Susan were a 65+ year old retired couple from Boston. Frank had been in the publishing business specializing within the biotechnology field. They rented a house within the Mauna Kea compound, situated on a hill above the hole #17 green with a view of the ocean. The publishing business must have been quite profitable! At the other end of the age spectrum was the 2nd couple I played with, Tom & Kelly from Seattle. Tom looked like he could be pushing 30. He worked in internet marketing for X-Box. His girlfriend, Kelly, rode along and took pictures as he played. Tom said his parents always thought that playing video games would never amount to anything, and he was proving them wrong.

Frank & Susan, Kelly & Tom

Tom complained about the number of sand traps that kept finding his ball. Susan also became very familiar with her sand wedge during our round of golf. I was striking the ball well and using good club selection to hit several greens in regulation. WIth 8 pars and 7 bogeys you would think I might have carded a lower score. I did card two double bogeys while losing a couple of balls in the tall grass but it was the 2nd easiest hole on the course that took me for a ride. All I can say is that I took a nap when I played the par 4 sixth hole where I took 8 strokes to complete the hole.

205 yard par 3 hole #3 (bogey)

214 yard par 3 hole #11 (par)

Mauna Kea is the name of the tallest volcano in Hawaii. Perhaps that is why the course provided the most elevation change from tee to green I have experienced. The wind was still a factor but not anything like I faced on Maui.

357 yard par 4 hole #2

375 yard par 4 hole #9

431 yard par 4 hole #18

I expected to see different species of birds on the Hawaiian islands during my visit. It was surprising when the sound of gobbling turkeys range out across the Mauna Kea course. At the completion of play, I drove up to the pro shop where the distinctive sound rang out again. I walked around to an outside eating area where a tom was trying to scare away his reflection in the window. He was not having any success.

Mauna Kea lunch area

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