FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Kohala Coast, HI, Manua Kea Beach Hotel

Feb 1, 2011
2011 / February 2011

Ranked No. 1 in Hawaii and No. 18 in the United States by Golf Magazine, the course at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel has what it takes to be one of my favorites. In fact, it is the first course to be reviewed twice in Global Traveler — warranted by its $175 million renovation after the 2006 earthquake that centered very close to the property.

The earthquake may have been a blessing in disgui

se, since the hotel, built in 1965, was in need of an overhaul. In 2008, Rees Jones had the chance to look at his father’s work — Robert Trent Jones, Sr. designed the course in 1963 — and restore the course to its original toughness. Known as the “U.S. Open Doctor,” Rees pumped new life into the course, refurbishing all the bunkers and adding new ones, to a total of 99 — many of which I found. He also changed the greens, building in more undulations and adding more subtlety to the “reads.” The greens grass was replaced with a hybrid Bermuda grass called TifEagle. With a name like that, I was expecting a few eagles, but that was not to be.

Mauna Kea also rebuilt the clubhouse and renovated the hotel, decreasing the number of guestrooms from 310 to 258 and enlarging the premium ocean-view rooms to more than 600 square feet. Overall, it was a wonderful use of $175 million.

Hole 1 (374 yards, par 4)
I like to start a review with the first hole to show the personality of the designer — no disappointment here. If this dogleg made you say “daddy” before, it is even more of a challenge now. Rees Jones deepened all the bunkers and added one at the turn of the dogleg right. Trying to cut off some yardage here will cost you dearly. I nailed my 3-wood a little more left than I would have liked and was able to muscle a 5-wood (hit softly) to the back of the raised green with its added undulations.

Hole 3 (272 yards, par 3)
This is probably one of the most beautiful holes I have ever played anywhere in the world. From the tee box, you shoot over the ocean to the green. I was playing with the two club pros, Brandon and Josh, and was proud that my ball made it over the ocean, landing just right of the green. I had to muster all my skill to make this shot — walking away with a bogey was a well-deserved honor.

Hole 4 (438 yards, par 4)
On this No. 1 handicapped hole, you need two really decent shots to putt in for par. There are two sets of bunkers right and left where your drive lands, a large bunker on the left of the green and a huge back bunker. Rees made sure any bad shot would catch one of these traps. I drove my ball to the left side of the rough, nearly landing in a bunker. From here I landed an iron on the green, taking a not-so-nice bounce left into a greenside bunker. Fortunately, I came out cleanly and one-putted for a par and a “sandy” on this hole. This type of bunker play was seldom repeated during the day.

Hole 5 (600 yards, par 5)
“Ouch!” is what I said as I putted in for a double bogey on this par-5 big daddy. I made it to the palm trees on the right side of the fairway and into the rough on the dogleg left — the beginning of my demise. Play should not be as difficult as mine was, but the hole is long with undulations in the fairway. I also hit the approach bunker about 80 yards from the green. Brandon and Josh played magnificently while I hacked to the green. I got my money’s worth on this one.

Hole 10 (567 yards, par 5)
After you swing off of nine, get ready for this doozy, which has a near-horseshoe shape doglegging right to the green. I drove a clean, straight ball just left of the three fairway bunkers at the landing area. Josh out-drove me by about 100 yards; but Brandon slammed a ball past us both and as he grinned, we knew this was his best drive of the day. The pros were far enough to take a shot to the green, whereas I had to land just behind the left forward bunker. From here, it took me two shots to the green. Josh putted for a birdie on this elevated green — a smashing show of his skill.

Hole 11 (250 yards, par 3)
I really like this hole — one of my favorites, pre- and post-Rees renovations. It is a beautiful par 3 to a downhill green with the blue Pacific Ocean behind. The green is surrounded by two bunkers in the front and one to catch wayward balls that fly over to the left and back. All three of us had decent tee balls to the green; mine landed slightly short and to the right. A perfectly executed chip left me with a one-putt for par. Make sure you take in the view of the sunbathers and the Mauna Kea resort below.

Hole 17 (620 yards, par 5)
From the tee box, check out the magnificent homes that overlook this hole to the right, owned by some of the course’s more celebrated members and valued at many millions. The 17th hole slopes downhill to the green and follows a dogleg pattern to the left. Balls tend to drift toward the right; traps and a sloping hill with brush can cause issues, as they did for me. From here, you need to fire a fairway wood to an area beyond the forward fairway trap. This will lead you to a comfortable iron to the green, which is heavily guarded with four bunkers. We were joined on this hole by the head superintendent, who unsuccessfully tried to read the green to Brandon, causing him to miss his birdie putt.

Hole 18 (450 yards, par 4)
This is a wonderful finishing hole for a course and a resort that have been given a lot of tender, loving care. The tee box is elevated, with a grand view of the Pacific Ocean and the resort. The green shifts slightly to the right in this near-dogleg. The landing area is between two traps on either side of the fairway, and for some hitters a 3-wood might be the play. You may choose to bypass this area for the next level, which will leave you with a mid-iron to the green. Lunch at Number 3, the clubhouse restaurant, completes a perfect day at Mauna Kea.

Mauna Kea Beach Hotel
62-100 Mauna Kea Beach Drive
Kohala Coast, HI 96743
tel 808 882 7222

Introducing

FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

#globility

Insta Feed
Daily
Jun 21, 2021

The Franklin London Launches Afternoon Tea Inspired by Victoria & Albert Museum’s “Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser”

The Franklin London – Starhotels Collezione, located in the heart of Knightsbridge, launched a new afternoon tea inspired by the “Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser” exhibit at the nearby Victoria & Albert Museum. Diners booking the tea also have the option to book an offer including a pre-reserved ticket to the in-demand exhibition.

SPIA 2021 Winners Crowned at Gala Ceremony at W Hotel, Palm Jumeirah

The Sports Industry Awards returned with a bang last night as 200 guests packed the W Hotel Great Ball Room for the gala ceremony.

LGBTQ+
Jun 18, 2021

Show Your Pride with Essentia Cocktails

Pride Month is in full swing and to celebrate the community, make a colorful cocktail everyone will enjoy. These colorful ingredients will get the party started during Pride or any time of the year. Start this recipe the night before to create the rainbow ice cubes.

Norway
Jun 17, 2021

Up Norway Sustainable Tour: The Discovery Route

Up Norway, Norway’s travel curator, partners with sustainability experts to offer travelers a new tour. The Discovery Route, called the “world’s most sustainable journey,” combines personal wellness with the wellness of the environment.

eFlyer Reviews
Jun 16, 2021

Marriott Dallas Uptown Review

Driving into Dallas during a rainstorm, we were eager to arrive at our destination. The valet parking at Marriott Dallas Uptown is underground and ideal for inclement weather. We took the elevator to the lobby and made our way to the registration desk. The staff wore masks, but still managed to convey a warm greeting. On the wall behind them hung a colorful piece of art made partially from reclaimed wood that depicts neighborhood scenes. The new hotel covers an entire block in a residential area and opened earlier this year.

eFlyer Lead
Jun 16, 2021

Studies Show Business Travel Confidence Returning

Business travel is on the brink of returning, according to three new reports. The latest monthly Traveler Confidence Index developed by Travel Again shows business traveler confidence soared in May, with 42 percent now fully ready to travel, up from just 20 percent in April. An additional 31 percent are planning some type of business travel for summer, with 74 percent willing to travel domestically for business in the next 90 days. However, employers may not be as ready, with only 22 percent of business travel respondents with current business travel plans.

Sports Industry Awards returns to Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah for 8th Edition

The biggest names in the Middle East sporting community will gather for the Sports Industry Awards as the event returns for its eighth edition. SPIA recognizes the achievements of individuals, organizations, facilities and campaigns that contributed to the development of sport in the region.

Daily
Jun 16, 2021

Best Cities for a Staycation

Although travel restrictions are beginning to lift, many Americans aren’t ready to travel yet, but still want to get out and explore something new. WalletHub, a personal-finance website, recently conducted a study to find out the best cities for a staycation this summer.