11 Jan GolfPass Grass Guru – Waialae Country Club
Sony Open in Hawaii • Waialae Country Club • Hole 4 • Par 3 • 184 yds • by Eric MacPherson
This week we’re still in Hawaii for the 2019 Sony Open. I know, tough life. The host, Waialae Country Club. The designer, Seth Raynor. Well, at least that’s what they want you to believe.
Seth Raynor architected the original layout of Waialae CC in 1927, but the course, after a serious redesign in ’92, lost much of that Raynor charm that made him so vaunted. To paint a picture for you, half of the original water front holes are now homes and hotels. Remember, Raynor built the course before Hawaii was even a state, let alone a tourist destination. Taking all of this into consideration, I opted to choose a gem that was put there by the man himself.
Seth loved a good bunker flash, but who doesn’t? Think your ball is safe? Nope. It hits a bunker wall and scoots on down to the bottom. Usually, his bunkers were fairly high greenside so the ball, if it’s not plugged, gets some serious momentum rolling down. Greenside high, flashed bunkers are evident in almost all of the O.G. holes at Waialae. This brings us to the star of the course, hole number 4 (or 13 on days the PGA isn’t hosting a tournament).
I absolutely love this hole. A short par 3 with a narrow, long front-to-back green with a swale in the middle. No hazards dead on, but several beautifully flashed bunkers left and right of the green. And that my friends, is what I like to call a Biarritz hole. My guy Seth plucked this right out of the golf course design handbook and his mentor C.B. Macdonald’s back pocket.
If any hole at Waialae shows off the design chops of Seth Raynor, and Macdonald’s influence on him, it’s the 4th hole. It’s a classic design used by the two all the time, this one just happens to be smack dab in Hawaii. The bunkers are high to the green on both sides and if a golfer hits a straight shot on to the green, they avoid trouble. Quintessential, old school, accurate golf. The bunkers may not be as infamous ala the Church Pews, or Principal’s Nose, but they allow the entire hole to fit a mold that has been in use for centuries.
If any hole at Waialae shows off the design chops of Seth Raynor, and Macdonald's influence on him, it's the 4th hole.