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!
The Kauai Golf Challenge Special is comprised of not only three of my personal favorite courses but which also happen to be three of the most beautiful courses in all of Hawaii. If you are a visitor to the island of Kauai for the first time then the Kauai Golf Challenge is a must.
Starting at the North Shore of the island, Princeville Makai is ranked in the top 50 Resort Courses by Golfweek. This magnificent course has beautiful vistas of Bali Hai and the famous crescent shaped Hanalei Bay. It was also rated in the Top 5 for public golf courses in Hawaii by Golf Magazine in 2014. You don’t want to miss playing at this fabulous golf course!
Next is gorgeous Hokuala, or formerly known as Kauai Lagoons, one of the World’s Most Beautiful Golf Courses according to MSN Travel and ranked #8 in “Best-Of-State” rankings by Golf Magazine in 2014. The Ocean Course at Hokuala is known for having the longest continuous stretch of ocean holes in all of Hawaii, so be sure and come prepared with enough battery life and storage in your phone as you’ll want to take plenty of pictures while on this enchanting landscape.
Possibly the most well-known of the three and home to the PGA Grand Slam of Golf from 1994-2006, Poipu Bay Golf Club is always in immaculate shape. With its links style traditional set up, spectacular vistas and varying trade winds Poipu was recognized as top 15 Resort Golf Courses in Hawaii, according to Golf Magazine in 2014. You may remember watching Phil Mickelson play here as he breezed through the final stretch of holes which parallel the Pacific Ocean atop 150-foot cliffs and set the course record 59 to win the 2004 PGA Grand Slam which still holds true to this day.
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?
Kaneohe Bay View Golf Course, or simply referred to as, “Bay View”, is a pleasant, executive length course which offers somewhat demanding holes with impressive views. Most all the holes are well kept from tee boxes to fairways to greens, many of them with elevation changes that will challenge your club selection skills. It’s definitely a great place to go to work on that Phil Mickelson short game you’ve been dying to hone in on. The course overall has a very peaceful, serene feeling. Whether out on the course or just practicing on their multi-level practice range it gives you a nice, calming feeling…opposed to the typical standing-in-line-until-a-stall-opens type scenario that some other Oahu ranges can be subject to. The best thing is that golf at Bay View can be booked for just $45.00!
Another popular course on Oahu’s East Side is Olomana Golf Links. In my opinion this course is similar to Bay View just on a greater scale. It’s a regulation, 18 hole par 72 with a fascinating backdrop of the Ko’olau Mountains. Its challenges include a water hazard on almost every hole on the front 9, inside of which though are thousands of beautiful floating water lilies. My guess is so you’ll have something nice to look at while retrieving your water ball. So before booking for Olomana you may want to consider hitting up the practice range over at Bay View and prepare your iron game. Olomana also offers round-trip transportation to and from your Waikiki hotel, making it all the more convenient if you don’t have a rental car on island.
At this picturesque Championship Course the Pacific Ocean can be seen from every hole, and if you’re lucky enough to experience it on a clear day, you’re able to enjoy views of nearby islands Maui and Molokai. The coastline along this area of Oahu is probably one of the most favored and sought out by tourists that are visiting. This is possibly the most challenging of the three courses, with well placed bunkers and wind that is generally a factor late in the day. This course is always in excellent condition regardless of its busy play.
For more about golf on the East Side of Oahu. . .
In honor of Valentine's Day we thought to pass
on the local view of the islands to take your
Haleakala National Park in Maui.
Haleakala National Park, or the “house of the sun,” is home to endangered species, volcanic landscapes and sub-tropical rainforests filled with secluded hiking trails that lead visitors through this exotic location. Hikers can bring a picnic breakfast and hunker down for the colorful display of light that spreads across the valley. It can be chilly, sometimes below freezing, before sunrise at the top of this 10,023-foot dormant volcano, so prepare with plenty of layers. Sunscreen is also recommended if you plan to stick around for a hike through the volcanic landscape. There is no food, beverages or gasoline in the park, so be prepared. If the volcano isn’t of much interest, the coast is a beautiful spot as well.
Puu Ualakaa State Park on Oahu.
A one-mile loop trail leads to a lookout at Puu Ualakaa State Park where visitors can view southern Oahu. This spot is known for romantic sunset picnics while onlookers admire the views of Diamond Head and Pearl Harbor. Even Honolulu and Monoa Valley can be seen from this height, which sits on top of a cinder cone near downtown Honolulu.The trail leads through a wooded area, and the leisurely walk will take visitors up to the top of the hill that overlooks the city below. Let the backdrop of the forest and the bustling city be the perfect, romantic sunset location.
Kailua Kona Coast on the Big Island.
This seaside town on the coast of Kona is an ideal spot to watch the sunset. A historic fishing village, this coast is now a destination for shopping, restaurants, and those who want to get away from the bustle of life.
The Na Pali Coast of Kauai.
One of the most beautiful places in the world, the Na Pali Coast of Kauai is home to waterfalls, beautiful green mountains, and a breathtaking coastline. The pali, or cliffs, are a backdrop of rugged valleys that suddenly end once they reach the ocean. The valleys are dotted with waterfalls and streams that continue to cut into the terrain. Stone terraces where Hawaiians once lived can still be found on extensive hikes. A large state park here is made up of these beautiful landscapes for all to enjoy. Many plants that once thrived on the island are considered endangered. Because of that, there are no roads in this area.
Maniniowali Beach at Kua Bay on the Big Island.
Watch out for powerful waves in this location, but be ready to be swept away by the beautiful views of the ocean and romantic atmosphere. The drive to the beach, once only accessible by a dirt path, was paved in recent years. While it’s easier to get to, it’s still not widely known and can provide a quiet, secluded location. Sit on the lava rocks and keep an eye out for turtle and dolphin sightings, a common occurrence at this spot. Packing a picnic lunch is also a good idea. Recently installed showers and bathrooms near the parking lot make it easy to spend a few hours on the beach.
Sugar Beach on Maui.
Home to condos and resorts, Sugar Beach, also known as Kealia Beach, is said to be one of the longest beaches in Maui. You won’t find any buildings on this beach, making it a perfect spot for romance. It can be a bit windy here, though, so it’s a favorite spot for kite flying and kayakers that often push off from the shore.
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Today I am pleased to announce the reopening of the much awaited Kona Country Club Ocean Course in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. Kona C.C. first began renovating its “makai” course in May of 2013, making improvements such as updated bunkers, repaved cart paths, leveled fairways, improved tee boxes and new landscaping all throughout the course. I had the privilege of touring the course last week and conditions were terrific. As if the gorgeous mountain views and holes bordering the Pacific Ocean weren’t already enough, the greens and fairways are currently in the best shape I’ve ever seen them.
Kona Country Club will also be welcoming a new General Manager, Lee Kagawa, who was formerly the General Manager of Makalei Golf Club. If you happen to see Lee be sure and give him a warm aloha!
For more information about Kona C.C. or rates please click below.