The 2016 LPGA LOTTE Championship presented by Hershey begins this week as it returns to beautiful Ko Olina Golf Club for the fifth consecutive year. The event will be held from April 13th – 16th, with coverage beginning on the Golf Channel on Wednesday from 7:00 – 11:00 p.m. Admission tickets will be sold at the Main Gate during Tournament Week with a $10 daily admission or a week-long “Season Ticket” for $25.00. Admission will be free for spectators attending Sunday- Tuesday, April 10-12, for the Qualifying Tournament, Practice Round and Pro-Am. Children 16 and under will also be admitted free when accompanied by a paying adult and active duty and retired military service members will be admitted free with an official military ID.
Who could forget last year’s remarkably phenomenal finish as Sei Young Kim and at the time world number one Inbee Park battled out for the win? To recap, on Ko Olina’s signature and very challenging 18th hole rookie S.Y. Kim drove her tee shot into the water and followed it up by hitting her approach to the left fringe, which put her in a position where she had to hole out her chip for par to have any chance at the title. She made her greenside shot look effortless as it trickled into the hole resulting in an overall tie with Inbee Park which forced the two to a playoff as they headed back to #18 tee. Both ladies hit great drives down the middle of the fairway, and, S.Y. Kim being away managed to hit a flawless approach from 154 yards and hole out for eagle to win the 2015 LOTTE.
The Prominent 18th Hole
Hawaii’s very own Michelle Wie will also be returning after somewhat of a rough start to her 2016 season with her best finish thus far being a T25 at the Coates Golf Championship back in February. The crowd will no doubt be cheering her on this week though in hopes that she’s able to replicate her play as she did in 2014 when she bested the field with 14-under-par to win at her home course.
Sunday, April 10th (Free Admission)
8:00 a.m. Qualifying Tournament
1:00 p.m. Sunday Pro-Am
Monday, April 11th (Free Admission)
All Day: Professional Practice Round
4:30 p.m. HTA Ladies First Golf Clinic (Practice Range)
Tuesday, April 12th (Free Admission)
All Day: Official Pro-Am
Wednesday, April 13th
7:00 a.m. First Round
Thursday, April 14th
7:00 a.m. Second Round
Friday, April 15th
8:00 a.m. Third Round
Saturday, April 16th
8:00 a.m. Final Round
So be sure to come out and watch your favorite LPGA Player next week and while you're there don't forget to stop by Ko Olina's newly renovated clubhouse and check out all the incredible LOTTE merchandise they have to offer!
Hawaii has been experiencing a warm weathered and big waved winter season. With there really only being two seasons in Hawaii (summer and winter) many people decide it’s best to travel here during the months of November to April when the average daytime temperature is 78º (25.6º C).
Who wouldn’t want to spend their holiday vacation somewhere where the weather is this warm and the waves are as big as ever. With the ability to golf all day on lush ocean courses while witnessing Hawaii’s popular big waves, it’s a no brainer.
This year we have definitely not seen any shortage of big waves. Last week the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational was held at Waimea Bay on the North Shore of Oahu for the first time since 2009. Waves were reaching 60 feet last Thursday afternoon, the biggest of the event's 31-year history. John John Florence came out the victor by besting a field full of some of the sport’s biggest names including Greg Long, Kelly Slater and Shane Dorian, all the while over 25,000 fans lined up along the shore to cheer them on.
John John had this to say about the final day of the contest, "I was riding my bike down here this morning in the dark, and just the energy of how many people were parked all the way down the street blew me away. I've lived here my whole life, and I've never seen it like that. Walking down the beach with people screaming, the energy was so crazy. I've never been a part of an event like this. It's definitely the highlight of my life." Thursday afternoon John John became the youngest ever to win the “Eddie” which isn’t that surprising considering he’s been attending the contest since he was 12 years old.
The North Shore of Oahu wasn’t the only place where the waves were firing. The same day of the Big Wave Invitational the newly reopened Kona Country Club Ocean Course on the Big Island of Hawaii saw its share of enormous waves.
It was a great day for golf and a spectacular site as the waves crashed up against the rocks, spilling over and onto some tee boxes and fairways. Walkers and joggers alike had to take extra precaution along the coast as they snapped pictures to avoid being splashed by the colossal ocean mist. My personal favorite and most eye-catching vista came on one of the courses signature holes, the par 4 13th, by the well-known blowhole which that day was spouting water over 20 feet high.
Last year, the National Golf Foundation reported that the number of golfers in America was near 25 million. Yet, it had also been reported that an astonishing 70% have never been fitted for clubs. To me, those numbers don’t add up. Having clubs that suit your needs can help in numerous ways. Clubs that cater to you not only make a huge difference towards improving your golf game but can also aid with ability issues as well.
At first, most people can be a little intimidated by club fitting. After all, how many people can understand what this chart means?
To do a custom fitting you don’t really have to. You can simply leave that to the professionals. They will help explain where you are at and set you up with clubs that will help you get to where you want to be. In this day and age personal fitting is almost necessary in becoming a high caliber player. Club fitting technology is golf’s great new way for improvement.
One of America’s 100 Best Club fitting organizations, “Cool Clubs” founder Mark Timms has this to say about clubfitting, “The thought among average golfers is, ‘I really don't need to do that,’ But the reality is, the benefit for high-handicappers is more than for scratch players. I can probably drop a 20-handicapper five shots through a proper fitting."
In addition to golf club fitting being a critical step towards improvement, it can also help preventing pain. In an interview with one of the nation’s top 100 Best Clubfitters, Dana Upshaw, says one fitting took a client from playing nine holes a week in pain to 18 holes a day pain-free. His client had been using outdated clubs that were hurting his wrists. All it took was a simple switch to more forgiving irons with graphite shafts and better grips and it transformed his entire attitude about the game. "Fitting isn't always about hitting the ball longer, higher or with more spin, " Upshaw reveals, "sometimes you make someone's life more enjoyable by doing little things that make a big difference."
Still don’t think you’re due for a club fitting? Consider that there are 498 adjustable settings on the 12 drivers named to this year's Golf Digest Hot List. Wouldn’t it be awesome to have a general understanding of what that means and to know how to adjust your clubs if needed? Every golfer’s body and swing are unique. Players’ height, arm length, hand size and swing speed all determine how golf clubs should be designed and fitted. With demo days now being held all over the country where you can try out the latest clubs and get your set custom built on the spot, it’s time to stop with the excuses.
What are you waiting for?