The Plantation Course at Kapalua boasts breathtaking ocean and mountain views. Ranked #1 in all of Hawaii by Golf Magazine, the Crenshaw-Coore designed course is a must-play on the Hawaiian Island of Maui. The associated Kapalua Resort provides an extensive variety of villas with either golf or ocean views. The Kapalua Villas with golf and ocean views, the beautiful Kapalua Ritz-Carlton hotel and the ultra-luxury Montage Kapalua Bay villas on the ocean are nearby.
Home to the PGA Tour’s Tournament of Champions for almost twenty years, the Plantation Course provides a range of shot-making challenges depending on teeing ground played and trade wind conditions. Once the site of a former pineapple plantation (hence its name), you meander up, down and along the side of a volcanic mountain. You can expect extreme elevation changes, broad fairways and frequent chasms in multiple directions. Conditioning is superb, and the rough is minimal.
The standard golf fee is over $300, but that is what you expect for this course caliber and prominence. Here, it’s worth it. Discounts are available for resort guests and golf packages. Play early; the replay rate is a $115. You’ll want another crack at this course.
Public Course Rankings (2016-17): Golf Magazine: #1 in Hawaii, #24 in the USA. Golf Digest: #21 in the USA.
The Plantation Course
The grand scale of the Plantation Course can be intimidating. The topography is contoured hills, massive bunkers and large fast, undulating greens. Understanding the grain and natural break of the greens given the ocean and mountain is essential. The yardage means little as the elevation changes combined with the trade winds make for difficult club choice. Never expect a calm day. Crenshaw and Coore use the natural topography to design an eclectic mix of holes with risk/reward shots. Landing areas are generous with few forced carries. Options to run the ball on the ground or fly to the green reveal an architectural cleverness.
Hole #1 shows the typical characteristics of the golf course. Tee shots on the right side of the fairway require an approach shot over an extended chasm to a large sloping green with large protective bunkers and a severe penalty for mishits right. A 486 yard Par4 (Regular Tees) make any normal golfer cringe. However, Hole#7 is downhill. Taking an aggressive line between two trees on the right will find the fairway and run. If the winds are unfavorable and you’re left, expect a long approach shot. With only three Par3’s on the Plantation Course, it’s a Par 73. The eighth hole requires a well-struck shot to over the chasm. There is no bailout option.
The closing two holes are a 467 yard Par4 and a 585 yard Par5 (Regular Tees). Downhill on fast fairways, they play shorter. Just “Grip It and Rip It,” as both fairways are wide. With a long drive, the better player has a chance of getting home in two as the fairway slopes right to left near the green. Shots roll down left onto the green when the pros play.
A day at the Plantation Course is a unique experience. The quality of the layout, the spectacular views, the randomness of the weather, the superb conditioning and the prominence of golfers who have played here, combine to entice quintessential golfers to make this pilgrimage.