Where the TEE meets the SEA

We lined up our putts on the par-3 seventh hole. My first shot off the tee saw the bottom of the water. I could tell it was a goner as the birds that were cruising along the rocks by the green scattered when the ball made its descent.

Splash.

“Hit another one,” my playing partner said.

I obliged. His first shot found the back right of the green. A beauty.

My second attempt, a mulligan, was far better than the first. I pulled a nine iron instead of a pitching wedge this time. I hit the ball clean, and it soared straight to the hole. For a second I thought it was going to be short and in the water, but the ball landed on the front of the green just after the water.

My partner and I both made pars (although I probably deserved a double bogey) after he drilled a 10-footer and I a 3-footer.

Our round that beautiful Saturday was part of the course’s 25th anniversary promo, which is open to all players through Dec. 31.

We received a 25th anniversary logo golf towel, divot tool and ball marker.

Although the free trinkets were nice, the round of golf was really why we woke up before the crack of dawn. Poipu Bay is not only one of the most beautiful courses on the island, but it’s among the most playable and forgiving courses in the state.

Those features make the course one of my personal favorites on the island. It offers spectacular scenery as well as a course layout that’s playable to both a seasoned professional and a weekend hacker like myself.

For the past 25 years, the Robert Trent Jones Jr. designed course has seen its fair share glory.

From 1994 to 2006, the course was home to the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, a tournament that featured the winners of the four major tournaments of the year: The Masters, The U.S. Open, The British Open and The PGA Tour Championship.

In the 2004 PGA Grand Slam of Golf, five-time major winner Phil Mickelson shot a 59, a course record.

He traversed the 210 oceanfront acres, 85 bunkers, five water hazards and an array of ocean cliffs along the beautiful South Shore.

The course has also been ranked in many golf publications throughout its history. The 7,123 yard, par 72 course was ranked No. 13 among Hawaii’s top courses by Golf Digest in 2013 and 2014, and was also ranked No. 91 as “America’s 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses” by the same publication.

Golf Magazine ranked the course No. 9 in 2014 in the “Best Public Courses in Hawaii” category. The same publication also ranked Poipu Bay a silver medal in 2014 and 2015 as one of the Premier Golf Resorts in North America.

What makes Poipu Bay so special is how it’s integrated with the South Shore’s beautiful oceanside cliffs, which can make play distracting for anyone.

My favorite hole on the front nine — No. 9 — is also the most difficult on the course. If you’re able to hit your ball onto the narrow, 24-yard fairway, you’re faced with an uphill second shot to a green that slopes to the front and left.

The hole also features a heiau (a Hawaiian temple) that dates back to almost 500 years. The heiau on No. 9 is one of four on the course. If your ball lands in them, say goodbye. Heiau is kapu or sacred and must not be trespassed upon.

The next hole which ranks among my favorites on the island is Poipu Bay’s par-4 No. 16, its signature hole.

The 501-yard hole features picturesque oceanside cliffs and a heiau on the left. The dogleg left hole requires a good drive. If you’re able to hit a long, solid draw, more power to you.

I sliced my ball to the right and managed to avoid the first bunker. My second shot required a 4-iron, and I was just able to bounce up to the front left of the green. From there, it was an easy two putt. But for me, a two putt on No. 16 is nothing short of a miracle.

Overall, the round was great and we couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day. We started about 7 a.m. and finished a little before 11 — still some time left to enjoy the day.

If you’re looking for a fun day of golf, I recommend playing at Poipu Bay and celebrating 25 years of history, beauty and some of the best golf on the island.

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