Landscape highlights: Starfruit, kamani, monkeypod and Chinese banyan trees
The eighth hole at Kukui’ula is a stunning and challenging par three with the beautiful blue Pacific Ocean and an overarching Chinese banyan tree as the backdrop.
The Tee Shot
One of the few holes at Kukui’la with a forced carry, the eighth gets your attention right from the tee. From most tees, players first must negotiate a ravine that sits between the tee and the green from all but the forward tee. In addition to the ravine, a green-side bunker also must be avoided to give yourself a chance at the green.
The tee on the 8th is well protected from the wind and often fools players when they are selecting their clubs. The hole is typically downwind and can play as many as two clubs fewer on certain days, even though you may not feel a strong wind on the tee.
The smart shot from the tee is a planned shot to the front right of the putting green. Balls missing slightly right of the green have a tendency to bounce toward the green and often result in a good outcome. Golfers playing from the forward tee have a much more favorable angle onto this green and can be a little more aggressive with their approach shots.
On the Green
The eighth doesn’t let up once you find the putting green. A number of subtle (and not so subtle) contours make for a very exciting putting experience.
In general, the green breaks right to left and can be fast in almost any direction. Putts toward the ocean are slightly uphill, but usually downwind, which makes it feel more like a level putt. I see a lot of players underestimate the wind putting uphill on this hole and run the ball several feet by the hole. Downhill putts are often into the wind on this hole, which players commonly misjudge and leave short.
Possibly the most difficult hole location is front left. First, it’s extremely difficult to get anywhere near the hole from the tee due to the hole being cut so close to the green-side bunker. Shots barely clearing this bunker often hit the down slope and bound toward the back of the green. There also are a few very subtle contours at this hole location that can make short putts a little dicey when trying to grind out a par (or bogey).
Pay close attention to these slight contours and the wind when forming your approach on these short putts, and you’ll give yourself the best chance to make the putt.