Hapuna

We traveled over to the Big Island of Hawaii this year. In the midst of relaxing, we had the opportunity to golf some. While planning our trip the decision was made to play some new courses. A couple we had missed during our previous trip to the island. The ideas of where to play and the order of playing danced in our heads. Upon arrival, we hadn’t settled in on a specific plan. While the warmth began easing the tension in the body a plan took shape. The first experience of our week would go to Hapuna. The golf course sat just a short way up the coast from where we stayed. Without too much knowledge of the golf course, we headed out for the mid-afternoon round. There wasn’t any way of knowing if any holes would be along the water. The situation brought about more excitement than usual. Around each corner would be a new hole to discover. Speaking of discovery, the ability to play golf would be discovered, or maybe not so much. Our trip fell just at the end of the winter months this year. The final week of February, providing the golf game months of rust. As we drove twenty minutes on the two-lane road, excitement built.

Driving up to the clubhouse our golf bags were unpacked from the car. We climbed the half-circle staircase and entered the golf shop. Walking out to the golf cart, the warm air seeped into my body. It seemed to loosen every achy muscle that existed. There weren’t many people surrounding the area, as we were told to take our time. It strikes you how different things can be in the islands. This Tuesday afternoon was calmer than most any day around home. Where there always seems to be, something happening. Having to make an appointment on time, or get something done in less time than we would like. So, in some ways the experience can be shocking without the tight schedule. The path was followed to strike a few shots in the range. Again, experiencing the ability to swing without much resistance from the body. The warmth causing comfort while the club moved back and forth. The ease of those first swings in Hawaii always provides surprise. It can be the middle of summertime at home and swinging doesn’t feel as free. The maintaining of my balance felt improved from the couple months away. Giving me hope of finding an improved golf game during our trip. With that feeling of excitement, the first tee of the Hapuna golf course awaited our arrival.

Arriving at the first tee, we found an uphill par-4 awaiting our first shot. The view caused anxiety inside. It had been months since striking a drive, something not done on the driving range. Often challenged with getting the height on my shots. It wasn’t the most welcome of sights. However, finding a dip in the fairway before it continued uphill again, the landing spot was chosen. Addressing the ball, perched on the peg, the only thing running through my mind was wonderment over how this would play out. My head came up to witness the ball cutting through the warm air with some height. Landing softly in that flat section of the fairway, identified before the ball took flight. The peg was gathered from the grass, the head cover placed back on the driver, and we were off to enjoy the afternoon island sunshine. The first two holes sent us climbing pretty dramatically up into the hills above Hapuna Beach. It was a surprising start to the course and captured my attention quickly. There didn’t seem to be any easing into this experience, it asked that the player be ready to play. The reason for this sudden climb became unmistakable as the second hole was played.

The second hole provided another shaky looking tee shot. Moving uphill again, it would require a good strike to carry into open space. Approaching the ball found me glancing behind me, with my glance bringing about a strange sensation. When peering back down the hill from the second tee, my eyes saw what looked to be a hill/mountain. The type of hill/mountain we might see in the eastern part of our state. It was a strange moment that didn’t feel quite right. So, after striking the shot, it only felt right to take a second look back. There wasn’t a mountain when looking back again, it was the Pacific Ocean. For some reason, upon glancing back through some trees, my mind played a trick. Chuckling to myself and telling the story while exiting the tee box, we moved into the second. Finding my golf ball resting in the middle of the fairway left a challenging shot. The entire hole was moving up the hill with a green elevated on top of a relatively steep slope. The surface of the green couldn’t be seen from the middle of the fairway, adding challenge to the shot. After reaching the top of the hill and putting out to complete the second. We had a chance to look around. One of those moments where a climb has been made and you want to know what for. In that moment, the two-hole climb made good sense. As we looked down from our perch to see a large span of the Kohala Coast. With the ocean crashing into the coastline, it was one of the most amazing sights I’ve seen while playing.

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From that point of looking over the coastline on the second green. We wound our way through a pretty amazing golf course, with all kinds of excitement. The course traversed the hills above the ocean. Providing us with views of the water on almost every hole, the view stretching to the horizon. Each hole moving upward or downward back down toward the ocean. With the severity of slopes on each hole varying. Sometimes dropping off pretty suddenly, as we experienced on a couple of the par-3’s. While there were some elevated tee boxes, providing panoramic pictures of the coast disappearing into the ocean. The front nine holes seemed to have us climbing up into the hillside. Moving us away from the water. One exciting things about playing golf on the Big Island has been experiencing holes along the ocean. As we got further up into the hills, the hope of playing alongside the Pacific began to dissipate. Leaving curiosity over when the course would begin the descend back to our origination point. Yet traversing the hillside was continuously exciting. Without much water on the course, we came across a pond off to the side of the 9th green. With a creek winding its way down and around the tee boxes of the 10th. Where we made another short climb, before the following holes began our slow journey back down the hillside.

It was an exciting back nine holes. We wondered on our downhill journey with a couple steep drops. Those drops making for some added picturesque moments. Pulling up to one of the remaining holes, a par-3 headed straight down the hill. The Pacific Ocean could be seen out to our right, like many points along the course, but the seen behind was almost as good. Looking back from the tee box provided a look straight up the hill. Mountains occupying the landscape of the Big Island could be seen from many parts along the course, simply by looking back inland. It provided a unique experience for the afternoon. With the golf course being set up in the hills and closer to the mountains of the island. Meaning everywhere you looked could give a different picture. The Hapuna course was pretty exciting to play. It was the only course played during the trip without a hole along the ocean. But, the scenery and course design made up for not playing along the water. The majestic views of the Pacific Ocean were everywhere, with the picture leading your eye to the horizon. While peering the other way took your eyes up the mountainous terrain behind. The layout dispensed many interesting golf holes. With unique elevation changes, sometimes moving both directions within the given holes. The pictures remained exciting to the eye all afternoon. Hapuna will remain on my Big Island list of great places to play. It was an unexpectedly unique experience.

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