18th hole / 663 Yards / Par-5
Architect: Ben Crenshaw & Bill Coore (1991)
Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii
by Matt Ward
Since 1999 the PGA Tour has wisely chosen Kapalua Resort as site for its gathering of past winners from the previous year. The event, now under the sponsorship of Sentry Insurance, is played on the facility’s Plantation Course and has featured winners including Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia, Vijay Singh and Dustin Johnson, to name just a few. The design is one of the earliest successes from the handiwork of the talented architectural twosome of Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore. The layout is a rollicking adventure providing stunning views both internally and off property.
The 18th hole culminates the round in epic fashion. The finishing hole has been the scene for a number of exciting finishes for the Tournament of Champions over the years at Kapalua. Played significantly downhill and turning left dramatically — players are aided by the prevailing trade winds providing the ultimate launch pad off the tee. Crenshaw and Coore added to the experience by providing for extremely generous fairways — allowing the fullest range of players to enjoy this sensational layout.
After a long tee shot even the world’s best players must think carefully about attempting to reach the green in two shots. A deep and unforgiving chasm is situated just short and left of the green and any shot that ends up there is beyond redemption. Crenshaw and Coore provide for a mounding area on the right side as you near the green and players can use it in shaping their second shots. Those long enough and able to start the ball on the proper line can receive a favorable bounce and reach the green. The putting surface is circular in shape but when the pin is placed to the far left — whether in the front or rear – the need for a precise approach and putting dexterity is called upon.
The Plantation plays to a par-73 and can be stretched to 7,411 yards. Following the 2019 event work will commence on February 11 and Crenshaw and Coore will be doing a major updating of the layout. Although not yet confirmed — there’s speculation new championship tees will be added at several holes — including the 18th.
“This will be a very thoughtful restoration and refining process, but it’s not a redesign. We are very happy with the way the course looks and the way it has gone through the past nearly three decades,” said Bill Coore. “It’s like when you have a special piece of art, or something really special to you, and you get a chance to dust if off and make it new again.”
For those fortunate to play the Plantation the walk down the hill to the 18th green is one long remembered and forever treasured.
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Photo Courtesy © 2015, Dave Sansom Photography