Star-Bulletin Sports

Sunday, July 15, 2001


The relatively short 395-yard, par-4 ninth hole at the Moanalua
Golf Club has only two bunkers, but they are the only
two on the whole course.

It’s twice as nice
at Moanalua

Golfers are lucky they get to
play the short, 395-yard, par-4
No. 9 twice in 1 round

By Randy Cadiente

Here's a trivia question not too many golfers in Hawaii can answer:

What is the oldest golf course west of the Rockies?

If you said the Moanalua golf course, you're right.

Built in 1898 by Samuel Mills Damon on his estate in Moanalua Valley above Salt Lake, the course was only accessible by street car and a four-mile walk, or if you were fortunate, a horse and buggy ride from the nearest paved road. Damon used the expertise of his head gardener -- Donald MacIntyre, who came over from Scotland -- to design the 18-hole course. Using the slopes of the valley and streams that ran through the valley floor, MacIntyre came away with a winner.

In 1901, the course was cut back to nine holes.

S.E. Damon, the son of Samuel, said the change was made, "because the latter number is sufficient for a warm climate such as we have here."

What remained is still a challenge.

The par-36, nine-hole layout measures 3,062 yards from the back tees and 2,972 yards from the regular tees.

Distances for the women are 2,939 from the back and 2,849 from the front.

The first three holes are relatively short (a 263-yard par-4, 158-yard par-3 and 357-yard par-4). But strong tradewinds can make these holes -- as well as the 326-yard No. 6 and the 340-yard seventh, both par-4s -- play much longer.

The same can be said for Moanalua's signature hole.

The 395-yard, No. 9 looks innocent enough -- but don't let that fool you. It's tougher than you think.

For one, the fairway is narrow and measures just 83 yards at its widest point. It is out of bounds to the left, and not only is there a water hazard in front of the tee, but a stream runs alongside the fairway on the right and continues to a bridge 125 yards from the green. The mouth of the fairway narrows to around 50 yards and is lined to the left by nine palm trees over 60-feet high and on the right by two coconut trees.

An accurate drive using anything from a long iron to a driver is a must here.

More trouble lurks on your second shot.

There are only two bunkers on the entire course but, not surprisingly, they can be found on the left side of the ninth green -- which measures 30 yards across and 34 yards deep.

Hit the ball too far left of the green and you're in the water hazard; too far right and you're out of bounds.

"It's as good a finishing hole you will find anywhere," Moanalua Golf Club Tournament chairman Henry Uyeshiro said.

"It was even more difficult 20 years ago when the fairway was like concrete and there was little control as to length from the tees," Uyeshiro said.

"And until 15 years ago, a huge monkeypod overhung the fairway by the walking bridge, connecting the parking lot to the green. It made for a difficult shot to the green from the left side of the palm trees."

If you're unable to master the hole the first time, the good thing is you get to make the turn and play it again.

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