16 Helpful / 0 Not
Wailoa State Park - Hilo, HI - Obstacle in Paradise!
* Wailoa State Park located in Hilo. HI on the big island was originally designed in 1989 by Christian Cullen and then redesigned in 1994 by Mike Leith. With long grassy fairways and several clusters of palms, this course also plays around, large banyan, umbrella, tulip, and mango trees and incorporates 11 of the 18 holes over or along the water's edge.
*Long and difficult par 56 w/ 16 par 3's and 2 par 4's. Natural tee pads included dirt, asphalt, and grass w/ palms as the primary target, but also included one metal pole (hole #9) and a few other native trees along the way. Elevation is present throughout, but more predominant on the front nine.
*Very balanced course incorporating several difficult left to right shots throughout, along with multiple approaches off the tee and fairways. Hole #12 is the perfect example, having players tee off from one peninsula to another throwing left to right and landing in an open grassy fairway assuming you cleared the palms that grow along the bank. From there players must use a right to left shot toward the tip of a peninsula where a cluster of palms guard the target/palm at the very edge of the water. It is a perfectly designed par 4 with plenty of risk/reward.
*Clean and comfortable park setting w/ several two and three arched bridges connecting fairways. Plenty of parking on site and extremely close to downtown as well as touristy spots: Volcanoes - 30 min. Black/Green sand beaches - 45 min Akaka Falls - 20 min
*Tsunami and Vietnam memorials on site near the front nine. Large colorful statue of King Kamehameha I , founder of the kingdom of Hawaii , is located near the parks' entrance.
*Favorite Hole/s: #2 (Island Hole), #11 (Aced it! 330 ft. hole w/ 300 ft. of it over water), #12 (Par 4)
*Although I felt that the course was better off being obstacle rather than basket, others might feel let down. I just feel that many of these amazing holes that play over or near the water and parking lots would be modified or pulled and therefore most likely less difficult and memorable. The charm is in its history as a course and its location, and continues to challenge even the best of players.
*Being that it is only played by the locals once during the week (Tues@4:00) and occasionally on weekends (Sat @9:00), it is next to impossible for people traveling through on business or vacation to play w/out a guide. Once played, the layout is easy to follow but still might take a few times to remember the location of each exact target. During their big monthlies, states, etc. the baskets do come out.
*Very difficult course to play for most novice and intermediate players due to the sheer distance over water and the frequency of holes where OB is possible. Because of this, along with strong trade winds, monsoons, and hot/ humid conditions, most might feel the reward is not worth the risk. It can get old real quick getting in and out of the water. *Many locals used Golden Retrievers*
Least Favorite Hole/s: #9, #17
*Wailoa State Park in downtown Hilo is a good spot for picnics, walks and other recreational activities. Wai loa literally means "long water" in the Hawaiian language, and makes sense considering the water moves through the park like a serpent in the brush. It flows down from Rainbow Falls, an 80 ft. waterfall, just miles from downtown Hilo in the hills.
*During my round in Hilo it was easy to get that laid back feeling as on island time everything tends to slow down, which to me is a good thing! I saw several locals fishing on the banks as well as scraping for algae along the rocks in which they used for bait. Others were taking lunch breaks or sitting and talking with their friends and family as the children play. Many kept to themselves as they became lost in their thoughts and I found myself doing the same. It was eighteen well thought out holes of obstacle in a legendary setting.
*Special shot out to Mason and Rob for being my course guides and teaching me about the history of the course, local club, and island. Mahalo!
16 of 16 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 5 Not
Wailoa river: Bring a mask and snorkel!
Pros: Awesome course with LOTS of water. 12 of 18 holes are over or beside water. 180 inches of rain a year means lush vegetation and no sprinklers to hit or trip over.
Cons: No baskets unless it's tournament day.
Other Thoughts: The first time you play this course you WILL be swimming - get used to it.
3 of 8 people found this review helpful.
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