After a brief "off season" the PGA Tour embarks on its 2011 campaign this week in paradise. The Plantation Course at the breathtaking Kapalua Resort plays host to the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions, where Geoff Ogilvy is the two-time defending champion. We caught up with Kapalua's PGA Director of Golf Mike Jones, who among other things, explains to those of us freezing this winter that Maui is just as glorious right now as we imagine.
PGA.com: Happy New Year, Mike, and thanks for joining us again. I guess right off the bat I'll ask you to make the rest of us jealous. What's the weather like in Maui right now and how's it looking for the week?
Jones: It's warm and sunny with a forecast for the week in the high 70s to low 80s with only a 10 percent chance of precipitation.
PGA.com: We figured that much… This year's Tournament of Champions field features a long list of first-time participants, including the likes of U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell, Justin Rose, Jason Day and Bubba Watson, among others. Is there any "new guy" in particular that you're most looking forward to seeing up close?
Jones: With Bubba Watson's length I think he will have a great week. He vacationed here in the fall of 2009 and absolutely loves the golf course and the resort. Look for Bubba to contend.
PGA.com: You also have a few former regulars in the field, most notably three kings of the Tournament of Champions in Ernie Els, Stuart Appleby and Geoff Ogilvy. That trio has accounted for six Kapalua wins since 2003. What is it about the Plantation Course that fits their eye so well?
Jones: I think the reason they play so well here is they have all have played in multiple events here. The Plantation Course is a local knowledge course that you have to play a few times to really see the different bounces and get a feel for the greens. Experience with the course is a plus.
PGA.com: The common theme each year at Kapalua is that the tournament scores are dictated by the winds -- Kona and Trade. The Trade is the prevailing wind and the one that the course was designed for. With that wind, we often see low scores. But when the Kona sweeps through, the scores soar. What can we expect this time around?
Jones: We've had some rain the past few weeks and the Trade winds are expected to blow relatively light all week. I see the winning score for the week being around 20 under.
PGA.com: Final question, Mike. As a PGA Professional, what's the No. 1, golf-related New Year's resolution you recommend that recreational golfers reading this Q&A undertake in 2011?
Jones: A resolution to spend a few minutes a day working on flexibility for their golf game. Most recreational golfers do not rotate properly in their golf swing and the main reason if flexibility. Get with a qualified PGA Professional or Titleist Performance Institute trainer and have them show you a few good stretches for proper golf rotation. The additional benefit is it will help them to feel better as they go about their daily lives.