Local file: Golfing at Olomana

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

I'm taking practice swings on our first tee on the back nine at Olomana Golf Links. The mountain for which the course is named is in the background.

I don't know if it's because the Hyundai Tournament at Kapalua (Maui) is going on now and the Sony Open is kicking off next week at the Waialae Country Club (Honolulu), but I hit the links for the first time in several months last weekend — and golf is in the air.

Olomana Golf Links was packed — expected for a Sunday on a New Year's holiday weekend, but the island also got good and drenched for several days through Christmas and New Years, prompting Olomana to close for eight days. The locals who favor it were back in droves. (Olomana has nice kamaaina rates, as well as good deals for visitors.) It's also a course favored by President Obama when he's in town (see video) — it's close to his favored vacation spot in Kailua.

Golf is wildly popular in Hawaii, and not just because of local pride for Michelle Wie and Tadd Fujikawa. Golf really suits the island lifestyle, at least for those of us who don't take it too seriously: Laid back, no rush, snacks and drinks as you go, time in the sun. And though I would dispute that "golf is the most fun you can have without taking your clothes off" (attributed to Chi Chi Rodriguez), it's probably in the Top 10. Especially when your partner drives 300 yards but happily agrees to no single-hole score above nine.

The 10th tee. Tee times were backed up, so it took 5 hours to get through. But no worries.

I posted the photo above to Facebook and quickly heard back from a friend in Iowa — "Golfing on Jan. 2? Must be nice." And it is! I highly recommend golfing in Hawaii to anyone weary of snow and ice.

The guys in front at the 11th tee (par 3). They had some good drives. They also apologized for the slow pace of play, which was nice but unnecessary, especially considering it was out of their control.

The clubhouse and 18th green, next to the 10th tee. Olomana on Oahu's windward side is very green from abundant rain. Ask about course conditions when you book your tee time — the course can get really swampy after rain (I was scrubbing my ball after every hole.)

Spectacular views of the Koolau mountains throughout. This view is looking toward Waimanalo and Makapuu.

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