One of the real pleasures to be found in golf is playing a good course about which you know next to nothing. The first round at Fishers Island in 1986 will always win the prize for this award with the Morrissett family. Imagine playing that gem without ever having seen a picture of it and knowing nothing other than the fact that Seth Raynor designed it; by the time Ran, Dad and I reached the 5th tee, we were positively hyperventilating and wondering if we were on the greatest course on the planet!
While not on the same scale as that experience as Fishers Island, my first time at Kahuku Golf Course was similar. I had seen two or three pictures of the course and read a few comments about it but otherwise knew no details. I wound up loving it: A beautiful setting and very good piece of property, a fun variety of holes, some unique architectural elements, and a casual Hawaiian atmosphere. That first visit led to a second visit on a subsequent trip to Oahu, and it’s safe to say that any future trip to the island will include one or more rounds at Kahuku.
Sometimes critics overlook the fact that golf courses are purpose built – they are there to achieve a particular objective of the owner (host a significant tournament, be a “Top 100” course, allow resort guests a pretty but undemanding round, help sell real estate, present a fun challenge for members, allow beginners to play in a non-intimidating environment, etc.). Kahuku was never intended to host a big tournament or enter into any rankings. Rather, it was built to provide a recreational venue for employees and local residents. Given the loyal following the course enjoys locally among players of all skill levels, it has certainly achieved its goal of serving as a place for fun, and it is has me wishing that I lived nearby so it could be my home course. (Granted, if I lived nearby I would be happy for many other reasons as well!)