Mai Tais at check-in, breakfast on the beach, metronomic turquoise blue surf, and seas of stunning black lava…..there is a reason the wives of Champion Tour players won’t let their husbands miss the Tournament of Champions event that begins the season at the Hualalai Golf Course of the Four Seasons Resort on the Big Island in Hawaii. It is no exaggeration to say that this place is like tranquility in a bottle.
The Champions Tour (a.k.a. The Apostle Tour) begins the year-long Charles Schwab Cup competition every year with the Mitsubishi Electric Championship. The limited field event includes all the Champions Tour winners from the last two years as well as the guys who won Senior majors the last five years.
The field is stocked with Hall of Fame faces you rooted for the last 30 years including John Cook, Tom Lehman, Apostle Player of the Year and the Charles Schwab Cup winner, Freddie Couples, the ageless Tom Watson, Bernard Langer, and so many more. The Golf Channel broadcast is in prime time Friday, Saturday, and Sunday so there is no reason to miss this.
The Hualalai Golf Course is a spectacular Nicklaus design on the Kona Coast of the Big Island in Hawaii. The course was dug out of the black lava landscape created by centuries of volcanic eruptions. The scenic vistas on this course alone are worth the price of admission. Nicklaus used the natural up and down flow of the land to route a very interesting layout of holes lined on both sides with acres of black lava that give it a distinctive character you will not forget.
At 6600 yards the course is not a killer-past winners have been 20-under or better over three days. Being a resort course, Nicklaus provided wide driving areas and generous access to the green settings. But there is plenty to contend with if the wind is up and you don’t control the trajectory of your ball. Balls forced to wander by the wind that end up on the lava are treated harshly-you would need a sherpa guide to retrieve the ball. The putting in particular is a real challenge when you have a three-flap wind buffeting your pant legs.
The real attraction for these players and their families is the Four Seasons Resort itself. This is a seven-star resort on a scale of five. Of all the Four Seasons Resorts I have ever been to this is by far the nicest and that is saying a lot. The accommodations, dining, pool, beaches, health club, and golf course are as fine as you will see anywhere in Hawaii. But the best part is that this is all presented in an informal atmosphere without pretension. The people who work there are genuinely engaging, gracious, and concerned about your every care during your stay.
It is worth watching this weekend just for the David Marr post-round interviews from the greenside couch. No matter their score, these guys will be stress free from their week in this small piece of paradise.
(Photos from http://www.fourseasons.com)