Kapalua and the Mercedes Benz Championship

Trip Start Dec 27, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Hawaii
Saturday, December 29, 2007

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Kapalua and the Mercedes Benz Championship

Before arriving in Maui my knowledge of the island was pretty well zero.
I was amazed to read that many consider it to be the most beautiful island in the world. What ever happened to Tahiti or Bali ?  Not that I know anything about them either!
When our Internet search for accommodations brought us to Hanakaoo on the west coast of Maui , I had no idea that the near-by town of Lahaina was the main tourist center of the whole island. There is a lot of action along this coast and as luck would have it, we were well placed to explore from here.
Today's drive north along the west coast brought us to a place with a familiar name.
That name was Kapalua which I vaguely associated with golf.
My attachment to golf is tenuous to say the least.
On the average, I play about one golf game a year and that is at the Sandhills Golf Course located in Port Franks, Ontario . It is an easy course that is as flat as a cow pasture, to make reference to its former vocation. 

Port Franks is situated right on Lake Huron, between Grand Bend and Sarnia, only a one hour's drive from the American Border.

Sandhills is the closest golf course to our cottage located near Pinery Provincial Park just north of Port Franks.
So as I said, once a year, the male members of our extended family hack their way around this golf course. I am looking forward to this year's game in July.
My other exposure to golf was during a period of time in my life when I enjoyed watching golf on television. It must have been during that time period that I was exposed to the name "Kapalua" and mental images of the best place in Hawaii for golf.
As we approached Kapalua, the level of excitement increased a notch as we saw signs stating "The PGA Tour starts here - Mercedes Benz Championship - Kapalua".
So this was the season's start to the Professional Golfers Association Tour from January 3 - 6 at the beautiful Plantation Golf Course in Kapalua.
All the world's best golfers would be here to compete for the money.
Or would they?
What does one think when the talk turns to golf - Tiger Woods, of course.
Furthermore, if you are Canadian, your thoughts turn to Canada 's number one golfer - Mike Weir.
So that was my first question when I got an opportunity to speak with someone at the world famous Plantations Golf Course. I was disappointed to hear that neither Tiger Woods nor Mike Weir would be competing in the first golf tournament of the PGA.
I spoke earlier of playing my one game of golf a year at the Sandhills Golf Course in Port Franks. To stretch the truth a bit, that is almost like rubbing shoulders with Mike Weir since he hails from Bright's Grove, (near Sarnia) Ontario, only a half hour's drive from here. 
Since I feel comfortable playing at the Sandhills Golf Course, obviously Mike did not select the Sandhills Golf Course as his "home course". This honour did not even go to Huron Oaks, the golf course in Bright's Grove where he learned his golf, instead it went to Taboo at Muskoka Sands, located in Gravenhurst in the beautiful Muskoka Lakes district north-east of Toronto.
To date, Mike Weir, Canada 's top golfer, has won 11 tournaments. On September 30, 2007 he survived a Tiger Woods comeback to win the President's Cup Competition - a feat which few golfers have accomplished.
Our visit to Plantations was on the first day of the practice rounds and even then we were out of luck because of showers. The weather would be a concern for the whole tournament.
Our exposure to the club was therefore limited to a short visit in which we were awed by the spectacular greens extending towards the Pacific Ocean . The club house exuded the kind of wealth and exclusiveness that sets some golf clubs apart from the rest of the world. They definitely create the impression of being an enclave or bastion of the upper class. Who else could afford the fees associated with golfing at an exclusive establishment like the Plantations Course designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw in 1991.
Awkwardly trying to fit in with the rest of the crowd,  we did the tour of the clubhouse, pro shop and restaurants steeped in the golfing tradition. 
The Mercedes Cup at this point was still behind glass on display waiting to be won on the final day of the tournament - January 6.
It would be won along with $1.1 million, not by Vijay Singh, the defending champion, but Daniel Chopra.
Needless to say we did not pay the $100 admission fee for the privilege of being part of the gallery to watch the professional golfers at their best.
Nevertheless, the absence of Tiger Woods did hang heavily over the tournament as the star attraction was not among the men teeing off.
Tiger Woods may not have been on the island of Maui but on the other hand, we had the privilege of being here on this day and we were not going to spend the rest of the day at the Plantations Course.
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