Landscape Highlights: monkeypod, lonomea, shower, milo and kamani trees
The starting hole at Kukui’ula isn’t exactly an easy beginning to one’s round. Typically facing into the prevailing trade winds, the first hole can be quite a test. Players are introduced to bahiagrass almost immediately as a swale slithers down the entire left side of the golf hole from tee to green. Most players are quite pleased with par on this stout opening hole.
The Tee Shot
With bahia rough stretching from tee to green down the left side of the fairway, the tee shot is best missed on the right side of the fairway. The green is typically best approached from the right of the fairway as well, left of the Kauai real estate taking up the view.
The approach shot on the first hole should be managed differently depending on the hole location that day. The right-side holes typically lend themselves to aggressive approach shots. However, you may feel like you run out of room quickly on the long right with a sneaky bunker lurking just past the putting surface.
One of my favorite approach shots on the course is to a back left-hole location on #1. I usually aim a bit right of the flag in that instance, maybe at the center of the greenside bunker, and allow the wind and the ground contours to deliver the ball toward the hole. With that said, short left can be one of the worst places to miss it on this hole.
On the Green
The first green at Kukui`ula is the largest on the golf course, measuring 9,100 square feet. While it’s nice to have a putt for birdie on the opening hole of any golf course, pay special attention to the subtleties on this green to allow for an easy two-putt when faced with a long lag to start your round.
On the upper right side of the green, the majority of putts try to fall toward the front of the green. The lower left side of the green typically breaks toward the front left of the green. Look for the drains in the approaches just off the putting surfaces. These are usually nice clues as to where your putt is trying to break.
The first hole at Kukui’ula is a strong test of golf to open your round. Four would be a great score here for most players, so don’t try to get too much out of your approach shot to this green.