PGA TOUR Winners Compete in Maui for the 1st Event of the Year

by JL Lewis on January 4, 2010

The first stop on the PGA TOUR each year is in beautiful Hawaii for the SBS Championship. PGA TOUR winners from 2009 will be heading to Kapalua in Maui for this exciting event. The fantastic views and tropical windy weather provide a great venue for the first event of the year.

The course is extremely hilly, and a lot of local knowledge is needed to be competitive, even though it is the smallest field of the year. Extreme wind conditions and strong grain on the greens combine to challenge golfers to hit shots they normally do not face with regularity.

In the second round of the Mercedes Benz Championship in 2004, I was faced with these conditions on the twelfth hole of the Plantation Course at Kapalua, a 390 yard Par 4. I was tied for third coming into hole #12 and hit a sand wedge on the green past the hole. The ball spun back off the green and down the severe slope settling 60 yards from the hole. The next several shots I proceeded to spin the ball back off the green to finish the hole with a score of eight, which took me out of contention. The difficulty of this course is not evident on television as many of the uphill holes are into a strong prevailing wind. This combined with the severity of the slopes and the strong grain of the greens that draw the ball toward the ocean make scoring extremely difficult and mentally taxing. Whoever wins the SBS Championship definitely earns it!

Kapalua Plantation Course is one of the most challenging walks on the PGA TOUR, even more difficult from a conditioning perspective since it is the first event of the season. The walk is a good way to start a conditioning golf exercise program for the New Year. The stress and challenge of the golf course is counter-balanced by the breathtaking Maui views. It is common to spot whale spouts on the ocean horizon during the tournament.

While in Maui be sure to allow time for site seeing. There are various places to snorkel including Honolu’a Bay and Makulei’a Bay, nearby Kapalua to observe the plethora of colorful fish and other sea life. Horseback riding is another fun Maui adventure. The horses take their riders along mountain and oceanside trails to see the spectacular views of Maui and the other islands. The Road to Hana is also very popular in Maui for its gorgeous landscapes, numerous waterfalls, and a black sand beach. There are volcano tours in Maui to see the active Haleakala Volcano at Haleakala National Park in East Maui. It is also a pleasure to play a round of golf or relax on the beach.

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