LIHUE — Tower Development, Inc., the new owner of the Kauai Lagoons project near Lihue Airport, has secured Billy Casper Golf to manage operations of its Kauai Lagoons Golf Course.
And within a year, plans call for the course to return to its original 27 holes.
“Right now we’re looking at that nine holes, the nine holes that were closed, bringing that back into play,” said Ed Kageyama, regional general manager of Billy Casper Golf.
Kageyama said the previous owner, Marriott Vacations Worldwide, did a good job of keeping that portion of the course — located close to the airport — clear, and his company is putting together a plan to make it playable once again.
“We’re excited with the new owner’s direction and their vision and goals for the property,” he said. “I think it will be good for the property and good for Kauai.”
Jack and Cindy Amann of Indianapolis, Indiana, who played the course Friday, said it is their all-time favorite.
“We’ve been playing here for 20 years,” Cindy said. “It’s wonderful they’re planning to re-open the nine holes. It was a good place for Sunday, after-church nine holes. Perfect.”
Kageyama said his company has rehired all employees, about 60, who wanted to remain on staff.
“There’s a few that retired, there’s a few that wanted to do something else,” he said.
Billy Casper Golf operates more than 140 golf facilities in 28 states, including Puakea and Kukuiolono on Kauai.
Kauai Lagoons currently features separate nine-hole courses — the par-37 Kiele Mauka and par-35 Kiele Moana. The latter features a number of oceanside holes, including the par 3 No. 7, which drops down to a green next to Nawiliwili Bay.
Kageyama said adding an additional nine holes would provide some options for play other than a typical 18-hole round.
“Not only could we offer 9-hole play, but also more junior golf rounds, alternative rounds of golf (larger holes), playing lessons, etc.,” he wrote.
On Dec. 31, the Kauai Lagoons project, including the Jack Nicklaus-designed course, was sold to Honolulu developer Ed Bushor’s Tower Development for $60 million. The sale includes about 600 acres.
Bushor has told The Garden Island that the two parties are in the “transition process,” and that he would discuss his plans for the project once that process is complete, likely later this month.
In 2008, in response to trying market conditions, the Marriott halted the $1.4 billion project, which called for the construction of roughly 400 Marriott and Ritz-Carlton residential units over a several-year period. A spokesman for Marriott Vacations confirmed that the sale includes partially built Ritz-Carlton residences, ocean-view subdivisions and ready-to-build home sites with ocean and golf course views.
The property is reportedly entitled to build about 700 residential units.