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I love this place: The 12th hole at Manele Golf Course in Hawaii

April 26, 2019

Golf media gigs have their perks. This job is the reason I can safely drive on the left side of the road in Scotland and steer you to a few little-known tracks outside Bangkok. It’s also how I managed to play two rounds, four years apart, at Manele Golf Course, on the Island of Lanai, the smallest of Hawaii’s inhabited isles.

Back in 2011, I invited my then girlfriend, Fernanda, along for the trip. We stayed at the absurdly swank Four Seasons Lanai. The night we checked in, we took a beach walk, and your humble author popped the question and got a yes. Yes! The next day we played the happiest round of our lives at Manele G.C.

The best hole on a course filled with best holes is the par-3 12th. In 1994, Bill Gates married his wife, Melinda, on its oceanside tee box. The hole plays 202 yards straight over the cliff, and you have to carry it about 180 to find land. I don’t recall reaching the green in regulation. I don’t know what score I made. I do remember the ocean roared. The wind kicked a little saltwater into our faces. The view is outrageous. I mean, ridiculous.

Manele is one of Jack Nicklaus' golf courses in Hawaii.
Manele is one of Jack Nicklaus' golf courses in Hawaii.
Courtesy of Four Seasons Lanai at Manele Bay

Four years later we returned to Lanai and played Manele a second time. It was as incredible as we remembered. I don’t know what score I made on 12 that time, either. But it remains my favorite hole because of how it feels to stand atop that tee box: a combination of awe, peace and total exhilaration that can only be achieved at a spot that is both beautiful and bursting with special, personal history.

About a year ago, Fer and I welcomed our first child, a son, into the world. Someday we’ll bring Leo to Lanai and tell him about the adventures his mom and dad had there. I imagine the 12th tee will be more thrilling than ever. I think the kid will like it.