Linksland Golf: The Challenge Without the Chill.

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The Dunes at Maui Lani provides an exhilarating game of golf, more likely to be found some 8,000 miles away.

If you’ve played at Ballybunion, Lahinch or Royal County Down, you’ll be quick to catch the drift of what we’re talking about right here. The game of linksland golf carries a voice with a brogue all its own and, indeed, on the links of The Dunes at Maui Lani, you can virtually hear the rolling “r”s. Now, let us be open about it: good links golf is not for those faint of heart; it’s for those with the spirit for a good (but fair) fight. No matter the muscle of the male or the slenderness

of his mate’s waist, it’s not a matter of the golfer’s condition; it’s a matter of golfer’s commitment to play the game of golf “the way it was meant to be played.”

There is no reward more sweet, don’t you know, than one earned where the risk taken may carry odds of a sour turn of event. Playing The Dunes at Maui Lani, you’ll face a fair share of these heart-stirring (or -stopping) moments, and when the day is done, you’ll be brimful of gratitude for the experience.

You may want to thank the man, Robin Nelson, himself, who took on this visionary task, in of all places, an island paradise, 8,000 miles from the cold and craggy shores of the British Isles. “My vision” he tells us, “was to create an Irish links-style course in concept, keeping in mind that it would be unique because the grasses and humidity factors in Hawaii are totally different than those found in the British Isles.” (Editor’s note: To say nothing of our rather unfair advantage of climate.)

What was it that inspired this outrageous vision? Over a million years ago, this ancient land began its hundreds of thousands of years’ rise from beneath the sea. As the mighty 10,023-foot Haleakala rose, the sea receded from the isthmus, forming huge alluvial sand dunes, part of which remained untouched until Robin took his first exploratory walk: “I remember when I first saw it. I thought, ‘You’re lucky if you get one of these sites in a lifetime.’”

Now the spirited golfer is even luckier. He or she can play The Dunes at Maui Lani, not once but many times, especially when one’s spirits soar a tad when one learns that play here is “at a price for golf that is meant to be paid.” (Call 808-873-0422 for tee times.)

This course is generous in another way, offering four sets of tees; the most demanding, the blacks, presenting a hefty 6,423 yards for a not so hefty par 70 on a 131 slope. These are used in this coverage. If you play from the red, take heart, for the slope slips to 123 and the yardage shrinks to a reasonable 4,585.

A good read after golf at The Dunes:

If The Dunes gives you the linksland golf bug, let James W. Finegan recount for you a few hundred enticing stories of scores of links golf courses to play during your next trip to Ireland. Emerald Fairways and Foam Flecked Seas (published by Aberdovey in 1996) is an incredible golfing read about a golfer’s pilgrimage to the courses of Ireland. Dunes at Maui Lani course architect Robin Nelson made just such a journey when he was designing the Maui linksland gem that is so reminiscent of Ireland’s linksland courses.

What is a true links course?

According to the USGA: “Links is a term that refers to a very specific geographic land form found in Scotland. Such tracts of low-lying, seaside land are characteristically sandy, treeless, and undulating, often with lines of dunes or dune ridges, and covered by bent grass and gorse. To be a true links, the tract of land must lie near the mouth of a river—that is, in an estuarine environment. From the Middle Ages onward, linkslands (generally speaking, poor land for farming) were common grounds used for sports, including archery, bowls and golf. Because many of the early courses of Scotland were built on these common linksland, golf courses and links have forever been associated. The term ‘links’ is commonly misapplied to refer to any golf course. But remember that a true links depends only on geography.”

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