Weiskopf shows the form that keeps him young.
The Kukuiula Golf Course has only been open a few months, but it’s already receiving rave reviews. The one we’re particularly proud of comes from course designer Tom Weiskopf himself. Weiskopf played his course recently as part of September’s First Annual Member Guest Tournament festivities.
“I think it’s even better than I thought it was going to be,” the affable designer says. “I’ve done 67 of these openings all over the world on golf courses we’ve been involved with, and this is the finest conditioned course I’ve ever been on. It’s like a course that’s already two years mature – it’s just perfect.”
Weiskopf watching the action with a fan.
This was the 21st visit to Kukuiula for Weiskopf, but the first time he had played the course. Playing with Club Pro Brian Paul and former LPGA tour player Mary Bea Porter, Weiskopf took time at each hole to explain the thinking behind its design and provided tips to club members and friends on how to best navigate the course.
“I like to create a balance in our golf courses,” Weiskopf says. “Here, the par threes are a challenge and the par fives are not as difficult as most people might think.” Weiskopf described the par threes as “kind of tricky with little, well-protected greens.” And the par fives? “The longest one is 525 yards, and we have three of them that are get over 500 yards, so they’re reachable for a longer hitter.”
Weiskopf includes a drivable par four in every one of his designs, and Kukuiula is no exception. “When I played St. Andrews in 1968 practicing for my first British Open, there were four holes on which I was able to drive my ball onto the green from the tee – they were 9, 10, 12 and 18,” says Weiskopf. “I never drove them all on the same day, but I thought, well that’s a lot of fun, that drivable par four.”
Weiskopf talks strategy – and scenery – with golfers on the “signature” 14th hole.
“So in 1986, when I started designing my first golf course, I knew for sure I was going to make at least one drivable par four on every one of my courses. We’ve done 67 courses, and we’ve done 73 or 74 drivables. We actually have two drivables on this golf course, 11 and 14.
Sure enough, Kukuiula’s Head Golf Professional Brian Paul drove the ball 10 feet from the hole at number 11.
As the group approached number 14, with its spectacular panoramic views of the Pacific, many in the crowd, including Golf Magazine Editor Joe Passof, were quick to proclaim it the “signature hole.” But Weiskopf demurred. “A signature hole is fine – it’s usually the postcard hole that people always talk about. But I don’t ever define any single hole on any of our courses as a ‘signature hole’ because if there’s only one hole they’re only talking about, then I haven’t done my job.”
With more than a dozen holes on the course offering dramatic ocean views, members’ debate about a favorite is likely to go on for some time. “From number 8 thru 18, the ocean is always there in your vision and in your mind,” says Weiskopf. “On those holes you’re on the highest points of the property looking down on the clubhouse, the pools and the amenities down here. They’re all just spectacular.”