This is Alexei again. On my quest for finding the next golf course to play on our trip, I added a new phrase to my vocabulary… a reciprocal membership. I had no idea such a concept existed. I mean, if you belong to a country club, you can get your pro to contact another pro at a different country club and he will get you and 3 other players on for a small fee? Genius.
Having visited the island a million times (not to mention being stationed on Oahu for a few years as a Marine), Papa has been able to play pretty much every course on the island. Needless to say I was shocked when I found out that he too had never been able to play the only country club on the island. Luckily for us, this turned out to be the missing piece in the proverbial puzzle. After weeks of trying to find a 3rd course to play, Papa told me he was going to get us on at the King Kamehameha Golf Club.
Now, I assume the size of the bargaining chip in this reciprocal membership thing is proportional to the prestige of our home course. Needless to say, it took less than a week for Papa to call me and say that the head pro at his club was able to get myself, my uncle, and his friend on “King K.” without any hassle. I guess this is the way people treat you when they find out you belong to a world-class country club. Sweet.
All of this sounds fine and dandy right? Yeah, well my uncle’s friend told me 4 days before we were supposed to play that he asked one of the locals about the course, and the only comment he received was “be prepared.” Apparently the greens are killer and the wind slaps your ball down like the hand of God. I wasn’t too concerned, because I face these challenges every time I play Papa’s club, the only course where the greens are so fast that they actually have to slow them down for the professionals.
I should have been very, very worried.
Everything they say about King K is true. The greens have a mix of fast and slow bits all in one hole, and are close to unreadable. The wind, even at 10am, was strong enough to require two clubs up or down – depending on which way you were facing. The good news is there really isn’t much trouble to get into, since all the fairways are pretty open. However, whenever we DID see trouble, I somehow managed to hit in it.
I knew it was going to be a rough round when my 2nd shot on the par 5 first hole was heading straight at the pin, but hit a sprinkler head and bounced 50 feet behind the green, finally resting in the roots of a tree. To think that I would have been putting for an Eagle 3, when in reality, I finished with a double bogey 7.
The only thing that kept me going past hole 9 was the breathtaking view of Haleakala and the valley below. This course is a couple hundred feet higher than the neighboring public course Kahili, making the scenery even more spectacular than its sister course. Also, kudos to the greens keeping team. They keep this spectacular course in tip-top shape for all of its 50 members and their guests. Amazing.
After finishing what turned out to be a very rough round, I was looking forward to dining in the restaurant located in the multi-million dollar Frank Lloyd Wright designed clubhouse. Since it was late, we opted to get a bite to eat at Buzz’s Wharf on the way back to Ka’anapali. Bad choice. I ordered clam chowder, and a few hours later found my choice rivaled my uncle’s decision to order lasagna in Ireland… I paid for it by sleeping most of the night in the bathroom.
All in all, if you can get past the hype, and are lucky enough to play this course, do it… Just accept the starter’s invitation to eat at the clubhouse after the round.