Landscape Highlights: Queen Emma Shower Trees, Kukui Nut, Monkey Pod
The 11th hole at Kukui`ula is a wonderful example of a risk-reward par four. Playing less than 300 yards down the prevailing trade wind, the 11th hole is drivable for many players off the tee. The short par four has truly become a benchmark for Tom Weiskopf-designed golf courses.
Mr. Weiskopf recalls the thrill of playing St. Andrews for the first time during his storied career as a professional golfer. He was surprised to learn that he could drive four or five of the par fours. Tom’s affinity for the nuances of links golf has certainly carried over in his designs. You can catch glimpses of the “home of golf” all over Kukui`ula if you look hard enough. The 11th hole is certainly one of those tributes.
The Tee Shot
From the tee, players should make a firm decision whether or not they are going to attempt to drive the green. If you’ve given yourself the green light, I prefer taking aim at the middle of the three monkey pod trees on the hillside right of the fairway, regardless of where the hole is cut that day. A well-struck tee shot over that middle monkey pod, along with some help from the prevailing trade winds, often will result in a ball scurrying rapidly toward the putting surface.
For players opting against going for the green, I recommend taking note of where the flag is on that particular day to determine the best approach. For a right side or center hole location, I suggest a tee shot over the first fairway bunker down the right-hand side of the fairway. This will give players the best look and angle at the flag.
If the flag is all the way on the left side of the green, I suggest a tee sheet that favors the left side of the fairway. This is the only way you can see much of the flag stick on your approach when the flag is on the left-hand side of the green.
It’s important to miss the large green-side bunker complex in front of the green. Players finding their ball in that bunker often are faced with a difficult endeavor to get the ball anywhere near the hole.*
A ball just barely clearing that bunker is often rewarded, however. There is a relatively steep slope just past the bunker complex that usually sends balls bounding down toward the green. Short approach shots rarely result in a favorable outcome here since there are false fronts on both the front left and front right parts of the green that send short approaches toppling down the fairway and away from the green.
*Tip: When playing a relatively long green-side bunker shot, experiment with different clubs other than your sand wedge. I’ll often hit a “blast bunker shot” using a 9 iron or even an 8 iron, rather than trying to play a shot clean with a full sand wedge. A blasted bunker shot using a short iron results in a lower trajectory and a lot more roll, which can be useful on those bunker shots between 30 and 60 yards.
On the Green
At 8,900 square feet, the 11th green is one of the largest on the golf course. It also comes complete with a number of subtle swells and valleys that can cause problems for anyone not giving this green their full attention, especially when daydreaming about Hawaii luxury homes.
The green generally slopes from back to front. The right side of the green falls to the front right, while the left side of the green falls to the front left. False fronts protect both the front right and front left portions of the green, which puts a premium on accurate lag putting and chip and pitch approach shots. This is certainly a good scoring opportunity, but players getting a little careless can find themselves in trouble on #11 just the same.