Playing the most difficult course in the US

Wid Me...Or Agin Me?

by Ed Haik

The Hawaiian translation of the question "Are you wid me….or agin me?" may have been the final words heard by a few hundred Polynesian warriors as they plummeted to their death into the jaws of an ancient dormant volcano.

Hawaii’s Koolau golf course, which lies on an old volcano’s crater floor, is a course to be contented with: 76.4 rating. 162 slope. Gold Tees -- 7310 yards of pleasant pain (the score card admits that the maximum allowable USGA slope is 155, but if you’ve paid to play, don’t cheat yourself on the white tees’ slope of 154).

If you have ever played your home track too many times in one summer and had it so well wired that you hardly missed a shot, made the putts stone cold blind and finished up the round wondering how the pro’s would have done, then this course is for you.

Koolau will test your mettle and manhandle you through to a new understanding of the word "molten" in the first nine holes. If you choose to continue, your baby soft butt will be dragged across a fire walk that will leave you whimpering for life’s simple treasures, like fingernails on a chalk board or a ruler to the knuckles.

Before we get to more of how this course will be the death of your game, let’s get back to the top, or the bottom of the cliff as the case may be. Kamehameha I, as many of you honeymooners know, was the first King of the united Hawaiian (Sandwich) Islands.

You may not realize however that King Kamehameha coined the first $64,000 question: "Are you Wid me...or Agin me?" It was at the battle of Kalelekaanae (roughly translated: the leaping of the anae fish) that this phrase was minted. The King had backed up his foes to the edge of a impossible drop off with his recently bartered-for cannons from the British. For many warriors the answer was, "Agin Ya." Given the clarity of 20/20 hindsight, and the tumble off a 2,000 foot peak to their deaths, undoubtedly many would have opted for the former not the latter.

It makes sense that out of the graves of great warriors would spring what is clearly the world’s toughest golf course. How tough? What’s your handicap? Where to land it?You just totaled the number of golf balls you will lose on your first round of play.

A golf buddy of mine flew in from San Francisco after shooting a career low 84 at Lincoln Park, admittedly an easy course, but, what do you think his Koolau number was? The sticks, the bones, I am talking about a 111. A 27-shot differential. Three putt that.

When I had parred most of the holes on my home course in Minneapolis as a junior golfer I began to consider how the course could be made more difficult. Oh the na´vetÚ of budding youth. In my most rebellious without-a-cause days I could never have imagined such a monster.

Come one, come all. $90 will get you out on an unforgettable track. A course conceived to attract $1,000,000 per head members, purchased in the heyday of the Japanese real estate speculation for nearly $100,000,000.

John the Baptist would have served his own head up on a platter rather than play this track, or maybe I am exaggerating, because I really do love this course and in a strange, battle-hardened way it has improved my game. So the question remains: Are ya wid me or agin me?

The toughest hole on the toughest course
Number 18 at Koolau: The double-ravine #1 handicap hole on the most difficult course in the United States.

Koolau Golf Course
45-550 Kionaole Rd., Kaneohe, Oahu, Hawaii 96744
(808) 236-4653

Green Fees: $90 with cart

Distance 7310 6857 6455
Rating 76.4 74.4 72.5
Slope 162 158 154

Still interested in the Aloha State?
Check out these Postcards from Hawaii:
Surf and Death
Endless Summer