From the cascading, grand scale of Kapalua to lay-of-the-land (flat) Waialae, the one-two Hawaii swing offers a pair of distinct designs.
As we discussed on Golf Central today, Waialae arrives in sharp contrast to last week's venue. But going forward, the Honolulu course will begin to look different this year and beyond. This is good news for those who have scratched their heads wondering how the course could be a Seth Raynor design.
The PGA Tour's on-site advance man for the last eight years, John Lillivis, reports already seeing an improvement from the removal of 230 trees by architect Tom Doak. The removal has allowed for more sunlight and turf growth, leading the club to introduce tight mow around many of the greens according to Lillivas.
New hole locations have been restored on the 4th and 6th greens but probably won't be introduced this year to let the areas mature. Doak is reportedly planning many more changes to greens with Raynor's style in mind. The outcome will be fun to watch as its pretty clear Raynor's bold style was not incorporated at Waialae because of his lack of on-site time. Therefore, Doak will have to balance keeping the course fun, playable and enjoyable for members, while keeping it relevant in today's game. One that expects a challenge along with a certain bunker depth and style if a course wants to call itself a Raynor.
While Jimmy Walker is the defender, my longshot for the week is Peter Malnati, coming off a T6 at Kapalua, but if I were a betting man, I'd make Chris Kirk my choice if he's at a nice price. Yes, he's got new PXG sticks in the bag and may still be working out the kinks, but Kirk has posted only one over-par round there in 20 rounds played, with his 67.45 scoring average being the third lowest in the last thirty years of tour golf at Waialae. (I know this thanks to the crack work of Justin Ray and the Golf Channel Editorial Research Unit.)
As I noted in the Forward Press, coverage begins Thursday at 7 pm ET. (And don't forget the LAAC from Casa De Campo starts at 2 pm ET Thursday.)