It’s good to have the pros back on television this weekend.
It’s even better to watch them bomb drives from lofty tees down the hills of the Plantation Course at Kapalua. In fact, it’s one of the main reasons for watching the first PGA Tour event of the new year.
Admit it: As you survey a course with a lot of elevation, the holes you look forward to the most are the ones where it feels as if you’re teeing off from the top of the world.
It’s a fitting reward, considering that you probably climbed a tough hill on the previous hole to reach that peak. But if you’re like most of us, you probably have been looking forward to it all day for a simple reason: You love hitting the ball a long way.
It’s the one drive you want to get up in the air, just so you can watch it seemingly fly forever to come down to earth, then seemingly roll forever as it enjoys its merry trip through downhill gravity.
If your drives generally end up about 250 yards from the tee, this one probably will reach at least 275. And if you hit it big and can get it out to 300 yards once in a while, this is your opportunity to feel like a pro (well, at least a little).
It’s equally interesting on a par-3. You can hit a club or two less than normal, and your main focus is on direction rather than distance. If you have a wedge in your hand, it looks as if the ball will never come down, and it’s oh so easy to fly it over the green.
The difference is even more pronounced for the pros. The course designers can’t make a hole long enough to dissuade them when they’re going down such steep elevations.
The culmination of all this far-reaching fascination at Kapalua is the 677-yard 18th hole, which the pros routinely reach in two shots. In fact, it’s usually considered a setback if they aren’t putting for eagle.
So how lucky are we as we survey courses where we can experience the feeling of hitting one that goes and goes? After all, we do have choices in our great game.
If our home course has a treetop tee, no problem – we get to have a little elevated fun every round.
But if we want to reach for the stars, the West Coast is filled with hilly courses. Big hills. Little hills. Even if it’s a blind shot – the hill is so steep, you have to walk to the front of the tee to see what’s below – you still know that you’re going to feel like King Kong if you make solid contact.
Even better, you also know that your ball probably is going to be at the bottom of the fairway, a long, long way from where you struck it. For once, you can say you hit a 300-yard drive. For once, you’re like a pro.
Of course, if you watch the action at Kapalua, you quickly will realize how big the difference is between us and them. That’s OK. You don’t need to tell anyone it was an elevated tee. But it makes the story even better if you can show them a scorecard with a birdie on that hole.