After 54 holes in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, the leaderboard is littered with familiar names that feature various styles of play.
Great golf courses should reward players of all types. Kapalua Resort was the first design effort for the team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. They got it right.
In addition to the fabulous views afforded by Kapalua, it offers trade winds wafting off the deep blue Pacific, whales slapping the waves and palm trees swaying.
It is foremost a resort course and has to be playable for the average hacker that will spend upwards of $250 for an 18-hole round. Kapalua is worth the price just for the views alone, but the golf course does not disappoint either.
Second, Kapalua has to challenge the best golfers in the world when the Hyundai Tournament of Champions is held there every January.
Wide fairways allow big hitters to let the driver rip, even for the most erratic. Grainy greens and severe undulation also make it mandatory to bring your best putting game. Distance-challenged golfers can pick their spots with elevated tees and severely sloping fairways.
As we can see from the leaderboard after the third round at the 2014 Hyundai Tournament of Champions, various styles of golf are rewarded at Kapalua.
In the mix after 54 holes, two of the longest hitters on tour, Dustin Johnson and Gary Woodland, are near the top. Johnson is the defending champion and is looking to repeat this year.
Shot-makers like Zach Johnson, Webb Simpson, Jordan Spieth, Brandt Snedeker and Jason Dufner also have a chance to win.
Kapalua Resort meets the true test of a great golf course. It challenges the best players in the world and also is an enjoyable place to spend an afternoon if you are just a hacker.
Just being in Hawaii while the temperatures plummet and the snow piles up at home aren’t bad reasons either.