Following an enjoyable luau, we continue on from Day 5.
Sunday 8th of April
We started the day waking amidst the picturesque and tranquil surrounds of the Four Seasons hotel and resort – not a bad way to start the day!
It turns out that there are two Four Seasons on Lana’i in two separate locations – “Lana’i at Manele Bay”, where we were staying, and “Lana’i at The Lodge” which is up in the hills near Lana’i City. The latter – The Lodge – is adjoined to the Koele golf course, and there is a regular shuttle bus which allows guests to travel between the two sites on a regular basis.
It is one of two major courses on the island, the other being “The Challenge at Manele” which was designed by Jack Nicklaus.
Both courses are internationally renown and respected for their unique designs. The Challenge is considered to be the tougher of the two courses, so we opted for the slightly less difficult option.
Lana’i at The Lodge
We took the shuttle bus up to “The Lodge” early with our golfing mate Tim Litton (who has a very respectable handicap). Before journeying on to the course proper, we had some time to explore this other Four Seasons location.
I think it could best be described as “an English hunting lodge in the middle of a Hawaiian island”, incredibly picturesque, from the carefully manicured lawns, to the shapely ponds and water features and the lodge style furnishings.
After we explored a bit, it was time to make our way out to the golf course.
The Experience at Koele
We made our way to the clubhouse and found the pro shop where we paid for our round. Let’s just say that a round of golf at resorts like this are pretty pricey and leave it at that, shall we?
For our trouble, we received a little baggy containing ball markers, tees and a pencil, plus a decent quality score card. I also bought a colour guide to each hole as a souvenir.
As our tee times had been pre-booked, we were pretty much ready to go straight up to the first tee and begin our round.
The course is remarkable, not just because it’s been finely tuned from a design perspective, but because it incorporates three different climate zones. This is reflected throughout in the temperature and altitude variations.
I won’t post details about how we scored – too embarrassing – but we didn’t lose too many golf balls, and just generally enjoyed the spirit of playing on a world-class course.
The golf carts included GPS and on-board LCD displays – which was the first time I’d seen this feature in action. There was a menu option which allowed you to report a missing club, or have food brought out to your position!
It was beautiful scenery as far as the eye could see. Some holes were markedly more difficult than others, and the rough – as wide as the fairways were, there still was plenty of it – was very dense and lush. Tim often went exploring and discovered huge hidden caches of top quality golf balls.
There was one hole (the 8th) where the green was on a little island, surrounded by sand traps (pictured above, left). The climate changed as we progressed through the eighteen holes.
At one point it started raining – a fine mist drizzling down as we hit a tropical rainforest climate! We continued onwards, with Tim and I playing from the Men’s tees and Toni from the Ladies’ until we reached the signature hole on the course: the 17th.
The 17th Hole
This finely designed hole had it all – difficulty, views, elevation and worst of all: awe factor.
Here’s one description of the amazing 17th:
The signature hole of the Experience at Koele, this 390-yard par 4 presents a spectacular 200-foot drop in elevation from tee to green. This hole is nestled in the deepest and most magnificent gorge on the Island of Lanai.
It’s sure to become one of the most spectacular and talked-about golf holes in the world. The green is guarded to the right by a 70-foot sentinel eucalyptus, so be warned to play your drive to the left. (Oh yes, trade winds usually blow to the right.)
To be honest, it was a little tricky to photograph, but you’ll have to try and imagine what it was like staring down above some 200-foot drop to admire (and worry) about the tiny green below.
I actually had a great tee shot and my ball ended up just past the first sand trap on the right. It was an amazing hole to play (I think I ended up bogeying).
The 18th hole was very well crafted too, with great use of water features as a backdrop, not far from the clubhouse. As we played through the final hole, I took a few more photos of the surrounds.
We revisited the first hole on our way back to the clubhouse, where I took some shots of the tee markers and the stone plaque adorning the tee location.
Once we returned to the club house, we ate lunch watching over the first tee as much older Americans hooked and sliced their shots off into the deep, lush tropical forest.
Afterwards, we returned to The Lodge and made our way onto the shuttle bus back to Manele Bay. Toni was tired from the round, with her cold not helping things.
As I recall, we ate at the resort that night and then spent the evening in the first floor lounge playing poker and shuttle board. Toni had to call it an early night on account of her cold and fatigue.
The next day features more exploration of this small Hawaiian island..
To be continued on Day 7.