The Old Blue Course at Wailea Golf Club on Maui: The elder statesman's still easy on the eyes
WAILEA, Maui -- If you're looking for a higher power to thank when enjoying a sunny, serene and windless day on the Old Blue Course at Wailea Golf Club -- just look up.
It's not necessarily the heavens you're paying respects to, but rather the peak of the 10,000-foot-high Mount Haleakala towering above you. This mighty formation looming overhead is a big reason why all of Wailea and south Maui often goes unscathed from high winds or island storms.
Ask just about anyone on Maui and they'll admit Wailea has the best climate on the island and possibly any other coastal spot in the Hawaiian Islands. Even if you're staying somewhere else on the island and the weather is bad, don't cancel your tee time just yet.
"People will call our pro shop in the morning from west Maui to cancel their tee times because they say it's blowing 40 mph," said Barry Helle, General Manager at Old Blue. "And we look outside the pro shop here and not a single branch is moving."
Designed by Arthur Jack Snyder, Old Blue opened in 1972 as one of the first developments in 1,500-acre Wailea. Old Blue arrived long before the oceanside hotels, houses and shopping center that all started to be built in the 1990s.
Even though Wailea's top events generally opt for the next door Gold Course these days, Old Blue had its time in the spotlight, hosting the LPGA Kemper Open from 1990-92.
All of the Wailea Golf Club courses have beautiful, player friendly opening holes, and Old Blue is no exception. From an elevated tee played toward the West Maui mountains, it's a downhill, slight dogleg right shot to a forgiving fairway with plenty of room to miss.
It's tough to pinpoint a signature hole at Old Blue, since most holes have ocean views and plenty of beautification, such as flowers and palms from tee to green. If you can't see the ocean on the tee, you probably will by the time you get to the green.
Some of the most scenic holes, such as the first, are those that play toward the West Maui mountains. Old Blue's best combination of both challenge and beauty comes at the par-5 fourth hole, which plays uphill from the tee and then darts left and downhill with West Maui in the distance. It's practically worth laying up on the second shot at the top of the hill just to take in the view.
The finishing hole is a short par 3 played over a pond to a wide but somewhat shallow green, so you're just a good short iron and a putt away from a closing birdie.
So make a bet with your playing partner: high score here buys first round at Mulligan's, the Irish Pub located at Old Blue's clubhouse.
Old Blue at Wailea Golf Club compared to the Gold and Emerald
The original of the three Wailea golf courses, Old Blue is also the most unique. It's partly a result of the more traditional design style, plus its setting away from the Gold and Emerald, both of which were designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. and opened in 1994.
Old Blue plays the shortest at 6,765 yards, and there are three sets of tees compared to four at the others, and the back tee slope/rating is more in line with the Gold and Emerald's middle-back sets. Old Blue is also the only course of the three with some residences along some holes, but they're well off the fairways and generally built above them, too.
You'll find the same course conditions and service as you will at the other Wailea facility, including GPS in all the golf carts. Old Blue only has a chipping area on site and no full driving range, but those who have booked a tee time here have access to the Gold/Emerald facility. Old Blue is also usually around $30 less expensive for a round compared to Gold and Emerald.
Nearly 40 years after opening, many new golf courses have come along on the island, but Old Blue still draws the eyes of plenty Maui golfers.
December 21, 2011