Plantation Course to Close Shortly After Hosting Sentry TOC

January 5, 2019, 10:26 AM HST · Updated January 5, 10:26 AM
Kiaora Bohlool · 0 Comments
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If golf course designer Bill Coore has been asked once, he’s been asked a thousand times: What would he have done differently in laying out the Plantation Course in Kapalua back in 1991?

“Quite frankly, not much,” Coore answers. “The elevation changes, the slope and the wind conditions, those are all magnified here because they align.  When you look at the combination of factors and you look at the golf courses out there, it does allow for playable golf in very extreme conditions.”

More than 27 years later, Coore is part of the design team here once again, as the Plantation Course gears up for a $10+ million dollar refinement of virtually every aspect of the grounds. The course will close on February 11, with plans to reopen in November 2019.

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“There’s no intent on our part to create a golf course that’s unrecognizable from what’s been here before,” Coore says. “It’ll just be a more polished version and in many ways we hope will address some of the developments and evolution that’s happened with the best players in the world.”

The Plantation Course brings national exposure to Maui each year, hosting the top PGA players in the Sentry Tournament of Champions (TOC), happening now through Sunday, January 6. But NBC/GOLF Channel Analyst Mark Rolfing, whose Plantation course connections go back decades, says currently, it’s often too easy for the professionals and too difficult for most everyone else.

“How do we make it more of a challenge for the best players in the world and at the same time more playable, and consequently more enjoyable, for the average player,” Rolfing adds.

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TROON Golf Chairman/CEO Dana Garmany plans to address that issue with this project, not only to welcome the TOC pros every January, but also to prioritize the local and resort golfers who play the other 51 weeks out of the year.

“Every successful renovation and refinement we’ve done in the last 15 years has literally been to make the golf course more playable: more fairway space, more greens space, greens speed adjustments,” Garmany explains. “The extremes that you face here you don’t face in other places, but the mantra has been to make it as playable and enjoyable for the people who are there.”

So, here are some of the planned enhancements:

-Green complexes will be reconstructed and resurfaced with Tif Eagle Bermuda grass
-Fairways, rough and tee boxes will be re-grassed using Celebration Bermuda grass
-Bunkers will be renovated; some will be removed or relocated
-Greens will be refined to create more options for hole locations (without changing the character of the greens)
-All existing tee boxes will be rebuilt and more tees will be added, including a significant number of new forward/family tees
-A new combined back tee will be added for holes 3 and 9

“We’re taking what’s good already, what’s been proven over the 30 years that’s been a nice test to the community and the top players, we’re just trying to make It a little bit better,” says Alex Nakajima, General Manager of Kapalua Golf and Tennis.

The 27-year-old Plantation Course clubhouse will also see a major renovation.  Kapalua Golf has already made some changes, like renovating the Plantation golf shop and moving the Bay Course clubhouse into a new building.  With many enhancements to come, the project is slated to finish by November 2019, in time for the award-winning course to host the 2020 Sentry Tournament of Champions next January.

Nakajima says much of the refinement will be completed by local construction crews, which is reminiscent of the initial project from nearly 30 years ago.

“It was built primarily by Hawaiian construction companies,” Coore recalls.  “We did have three guys on the site who were helping do what we call the  ‘creative shaping’ of greens, tees and bunkers, but the vast majority of the work was done by Goodfellow Brothers at the time.”

Coore will be working with his original counterparts from 1991 to make the Plantation Course the best it can be, once again.

“Our primary focus, as it was 30 years ago, was to address the play, the enjoyment and experience of the resort players who are going to be here,” he says.

Learn more about Kapalua golf and the Tournament of Champions here.

Kiaora Bohlool
Kiaora Bohlool has been a journalist since 1998. With chefs in her family, she has a lifelong appreciation for food...

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