Hapuna Course, Hole #1, par 4
The first hole of a golf course is usually a straightforward affair. This makes sense (wait a hole or two before applying the screws), but the late, great Arnold Palmer decided to go against the grain at Hapuna. This first green is sneaky uphill, and the ledge on which it resides has no qualms about kicking the short shot back towards whence it came. Start the round by trying to be long and using more club to reach the green then you think. Another shrewd Palmer choice: showing us the extinct Kohala Range that defines this corner of the Big Island.
Hapuna Course, Hole #12, par 4
With the big ocean framing the isolated kiawe tree and the surging topography and spotlighted bunkers skillfully framing the green, #12 at Hapuna is one of the stateliest holes on the course. Moreover, the effect exerted on approach shots by this clever shaping is almost magnetic. A large bunker borders the left front of the green and another borders the right. Shots hitting the green will move from left to right even though the green appears level. On many days wild goats like this part of the pasture.
Hapuna Course, Hole #16, par 3
Golfers love short, downhill par threes. The shot is so inviting. The birdie beckons. However, the best short holes offer a challenge, and #16 at Hapuna has two: the front edge that falls straight down, and the often strong wind, either the trades from behind or the onshore, which will blow straight toward you. Club selection has to be precise. If it isn't, that birdie just flew away.
Mauna Kea Course, Hole #3, par 3
Golfers love long, tough par threes if they look like #3 at Mauna Kea. Designer Jones knew this would be the postcard hole; it's greatness is self-evident. Every seaside course now tries to match this icon. Some come close, none surpass it. In winter, whales breeching just off to the left are also, suddenly, self-evident. And while we're at it, one self-evident tip: take more than enough club.
Mauna Kea Course, Hole #11, par 3
On the other side of the Mauna Kea resort from the iconic third hole is #11, also an oceanside par three but with a totally different spirit. This time the ocean is behind your target, safely out of the way. Scattered trees direct our view down to the green and that blue water beyond. Four bunkers are scattered about casually. Surely they mean no harm. It's all so peaceful, at least until your tee shot isn't straight enough.
Mauna Kea Course, Hole #13, par 4
The drive on #13 at Mauna Kea simply must avoid the pits and bunkers beside the fairway if there's any hope for par. This is an intimidating hole from this point forward. The uphill green is fronted with multiple bunkers in which your next shot must carry to the green. Two good excellent shots will have earned their reward. Anything less is bogeyland.