Cherry Hills

Tuesday we drove from our Hotel on the south of Kauai to Princeville on the north , taking about 45 minutes . After doing all the touristy things  , by mid afternoon we headed to look at the golf courses . I knew that the famed Prince course at Princeville was closed for renovations , but I wanted to have a look at the sister course - The Makai ,which was also designed by Robert Trent Jones Jnr.
Now as some of you will know I am partial to Robert Trent Jones Jnr courses - I have been a long time member of the National and always loved the Old Course there . And I have also played Coolum , Meadow Springs , Joondalup , Cape Schanck , and Chateau Whistler in Canada . They are all good.
On Kauai there are perhaps 5 course that are well regarded. Amazingly 4 of them are designed by Jones Jnr.
So we rocked up , liked what we saw , and headed off for a quick game before dark , encountering all sorts of weather along the way . 
The course was good and strategically much stronger than Jack's Kiele effort in my opinion . 
And it was well set up - they were playing a qualifier for the US Jnr amateur while we were there . 
It is a resort course , but with plenty of challenges - a nice smattering of clifftop carries to get the adrenalin going , some really interesting short par 4's , and plenty of inland holes with water in play
We really enjoyed it , and if I ever get to come back this way to play the Prince , I would love to play Makai as well
Cherry Hills Country Club is a William Flynn design smack in the middle of Denver Colorado
It was renovated somewhat by Tom Doak some years ago very much in keeping with the original design .
Cherry Hills has hosted many famous events over the years , but none more memorable than Arnold Palmer's US Open win in 1960 . 
1960 was fascinating because it was at the end of the dominant era of Ben Hogan , and the very beginning of Jack Nicklaus' amazing career .
Palmer started the last round needing to go low to have a sniff . 
He started by driving the 315yard par 4 1st hole , and making birdie to go on and snatch victory .
Cherry Hill's First Hole
Needless to say I didn't drive the first hole!
Driver , 8 iron , lip out from 6 feet downhill - boy these greens are quick!
After the big trip over and being on the road over 30 hours without a kip , I slept for 15 hours , and only just made my tee time
My form was pretty ordinary ,but got better as I went
Most of the course is fairly flat only going up and down the hill the clubhouse sits on at the start and end of each nine
The rough is fairly penal , and is already being grown in for the US amateur in just over a year.
And there is plenty of bunkering , and water hazards - creeks , lakes etc  . The greens are seriously quick , and with enough movement to get your attention
I really liked the strategic nature of the layout , and felt that it was the sort of course where if I was playing well I could plot my way around as I like to do .
I played with the assistant pro , and we played off the tee in front of the championship tee , and behind the normal men's competition  . At 6850 yards I found a couple of par 4's where I couldn't get home , but otherwise reasonable for length . 
But I had plenty of shots in from 170 metres plus with creeks/lakes etc in play - so the intimidation factor came into play!
The back nine is a real championship nine finishing with a top long 3 with a creek in play , top long 4 with creek in play , and 2 par 5's on 17 and 18 .
Hole 17 is a ripper - a longish 5 which is not so popular with members because Tom Doak has brought back Flynn's 2 sets of cross bunkering which go right across the fairway . 
Fortunately I hit a good drive , and a ripper 3 wood to carry both sets of cross bunkers  - just...
Then a wedge to an island green sitting in the lake - but missed the very quick downhill birdie putt short in the heart...
The Island Green at Hole 17
On hole 18 the drive is over the lake diagonally , with the lake in play down the left side of much of the hole , with a creek running across the fairway about 100 yards from the green . 
I hit a good drive ( at least it stayed dry ) , hit a long rescue over the creek , and an approach wedge to green centre for an easy par - but this hole plays as a very long uphill par 4 for championship events . 
That sort of length may even trouble Mr Scaletti!
Overall Cherry Hills was a very pleasant experience - a very good strategic course in magnificent condition - just a lovely place to play
pw
Sounds like a golf trip in the making
pw
June 2011

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