Since 1999, the Plantation Course has been home to the SBS Championship, formerly the Mercedes-Benz Championship. The natural beauty of the area and fantastic golf have made Kapalua a top golf resort and spa. Each January, Kapalua hosts the winner of the each of the previous year's tournaments, which makes for great golf. Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore, course architects, helped Hawaii give the world a small glimpse into its sweeping natural beauty.
History of the Championship
The Plantation Course is the fourth PGA Tour venue for the SBS Championship, which, in those early years was called the Tournament of Champions. From 1953 to 1966, the tournament was held at Desert Inn Country Club in Las Vegas. That period crowned winners such as Art Wall, Gene Littler, Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.
In 1967 and 1968, the tournament remained in Las Vegas, but moved to the Stardust Country Club. Frank Beard and Don January were crowned champions in those two years.
In 1969, the Mercedes Championship tour venue saw itself transported further west to Carlsbad, California's La Costa Country Club. It remained at La Costa until moving to The Plantation Course. A notable example of the stellar career of Jack Nicklaus, he was crowned champion three more times while the tournament remained at La Costa, in addition to his two previous victories. Also winning during the La Costa period were a host of great names; Gary Player, Johnny Miller, Tom Watson, Lee Trevino, Paul Azinger, Davis Love, III, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, David Duval, and Stuart Appleby, among other greats.
The Tournament of Champions became the Mony Tournament of Champions in 1975, the Infiniti Tournament of Champions in 1991 and the Mercedes Championships in 1994. The name changed slightly, to the Mercedes-Benz Championship, in 2007, before SBS (Seoul Broadcasting Systems) became the title sponsor for 2010.
The Plantation Course
By listening to some of the competitors in the Mercedes-Benz Championship, it would seem that the Plantation Course is one of the most difficult tracks on tour. The fact is, it ranks 50th out of 54 in terms of difficulty. Despite it's statistically "easy" ranking, there has been only one hole-in-one recorded in the 10 years it has been held in Kapalua; Lucas Glover's ace on the eighth hole in 2006.
Golfweek ranked The Plantation Course as No. 56 among its "America's Best Modern Courses" in 2007. The par-73 course opened in 1991 and was, as earlier mentioned, designed by architects Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. They designed a course that puts a great deal of importance on precision and shot-making over distance. Rolling terrain, a seaside location and lots of vegetation, not to mention 99 bunkers, lie in wait for errant shots.
Any person who has seen the course in person, or even watched the tournament on television, can attest to the secondary importance of course specifications. It's natural beauty is virtually unparalleled, not simply in golf, but in the world. Even casual nature lovers and golf fans will find themselves in awe of the views.
The PGA Tour has done an excellent job in keeping The Plantation Course on display as the season-opening Tour venue. It looks as if thanks are also in order to SBS for keeping the championship alive.
Resort Accomodations and Amenities
The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua is just the beginning of the awesome accommodations you can find yea- round in this paradise. There's little doubt why Kapalua is a top golf resort. There are luxury villas and vacation homes with views that rival anywhere in the world. Richly appointed homes and guest suites will enhance the vacation stay of a lifetime.
It may be the vacation of a lifetime, but package deals can be relatively inexpensive. Golf and spa packages, with stays in two- and three-bedroom units, start at around $519 per night. Villa packages, for two- and three-bedroom units, begin at around $200 per night, with a minimum four-night stay. They also include $150 resort credit, which can be used for spa and other amenities.
Statistical Sources: PGATOUR (dot) com; Golfweek.
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