Star-Bulletin Sports

Sunday, April 22, 2001


The 16th hole at the Luana Hills Country Club features a kidney-
shaped green that is protected by a ravine in front and a
bunker on the left and in the back.

Luana Hills
offers a challenge

Par is a tough deal even when
hitting the green on No. 16

By Grady Timmons
Special to the Star-Bulletin

LOCATED in the back of Maunawili Valley on the windward side of Oahu, the Luana Hills Country Club was the first course in Hawaii designed by Perry Dye and his famous brother Pete, one of the most respected golf architects in America.

Luana Hills is a championship test of golf and features the Dye brothers' usual assortment of design tricks. This includes forced carries off the tees, bunkers bordered by railroad ties, par-3s over water to island greens, and fairways that fall off steeply, and abruptly, into deep kim chee.

The back nine here is carved from a tropical rain forest and is quite extraordinary. Local golfers refer to it as "Jurassic Park" because of its primal feel and character. Except for a few overhead power lines, there are no signs of civilization -- only the surrounding forest and the peaks of the Koolau mountains can be seen.

Luana Hills measures just 6,595 yards from its back tees, but what it lacks in distance it makes up for in natural beauty and psychological intimidation.

Nowhere is this so true as the 16th, a par-3 set in an amphitheater of trees that is as pretty as it is difficult.

From an elevated tee, the golfer shoots down to a small kidney-shaped green.

The par-3 No. 16 at the Luana Hills Country Club offers a variety
of tees to choose from. The bunkers that protect the green do not really
come into play. What you have to avoid is a winding creek bed that
bisects the fairway and extends from tee-to-green.

Although bunkers frame the left and back sides of the green, they do not really come into play. The real hazard here is a winding creek bed that bisects the fairway and extends all the way from the tee to the green -- hugging the green's front and right sides.

The 16th can play between 168 and 200 yards, depending on which set of tees you use. The shot is all carry and into a prevailing wind. Miss it short and right and you're in the water. Miss it left or long and you have to chip onto a green that slopes downhill and back toward the creek.

The safe play at the 16th is to the left side of the green, away from the creek. If the pin happens to be located on this side of the green, a chip and a putt, or a two-putt par, is not difficult.

The opposite is true, however, it the pin is positioned right, because a huge swale in the center of the green makes putting from one side of the green to the other an adventure.

Naturally, the 16th plays its toughest when the pin is positioned right.

To get anywhere near the hole, the golfer has to start the ball out over the center of the green and cut it back in to the pin while also clearing the creek. Hit it anywhere else, even on the left side of the green, and par is a hard score to negotiate.

Lost? Need directions on
how to get to the course?

From H1 West take the Pali Highway, or from Honolulu, turn mauka from the Nimitz onto Alakea Street, which eventually becomes the Pali Highway.

Continue up and over the Koolau Mountain Range, through the Pali Tunnel. At the bottom of the hill on the Windward side continue through the first traffic light, a major intersection connecting Kamehameha Highway and Kaneohe, onto the Kalanianaole Highway.

Stay on the Kalanianaole Highway through the next intersection and traffic light (Kapaa Quarry Road), and finally turn right at the third traffic light -- Auloa Road.

From here immediately cross the traffic island to your left onto the access road that parallels the main highway. After driving along the pasture for about 100 yards, you will enter the gated entrance to Luana Hills. The clubhouse lies approximately a mile in.

Courtesy of Luana Hills

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