This week's Sony Open at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu is the first full-field event on the 2011 PGA Tour schedule. Before the first tee shot was struck, we caught up with Waialae Country Club PGA Head Professional Kevin Carll, who gave us some insight into the event, as well as what it was like to be a competitor.
PGA.com: Thanks for joining us, Kevin and Happy New Year. I think it's safe to say that the Sony Open in Hawaii routinely lends itself to some of the most dramatic, exciting finishes golf fans get to see all year. Why is that?
Carll: That's a great question. The 18th hole is a reachable par 5 and there's a lot that can happen coming down the stretch when the finishing hole is a par 5. Also, 17 is nothing more than an 8 iron with the trade wind. So, there's the possibility of a birdie-birdie finish. What's more exciting than that?
PGA.com: One thing that I've heard will make it all the more exciting this time around, is the fact that the closing holes on the weekend will be broadcast in 3-D. How neat is that?
Carll: I'm looking forward to it. We have a few of the Sony flat-screens with 3-D technology in the men's grill in the clubhouse. We have 100-plus 3-D glasses available to members. The technology itself, I haven't seen, but I'm excited about it.
PGA.com: As the first full-field event of each new season, I would imagine it's your goal to set the bar high for other tournaments. You've already got the Paradise setting, but what specifically do you think up that fans might not otherwise suspect?
Carll: I think it's the magic of Hawaii, everything about the islands. It's a big hit for families to come over -- the Tour wives and children. The weather is usually in the mid-to-low 80s and the Pacific Ocean is right near course - almost right on the course, actually.
PGA.com: You actually played in the Sony Open eight years ago. What was that week like?
Carll: That particular week was surreal for me. It's something I dreamt about when I picked up the game as a child. I almost had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming. That was quite a few years ago, obviously. I missed the cut, played awful, but really enjoyed myself. Now as head professional, biggest challenge is the weather. The next couple of days might be wet and that will be a challenge for our superintendant. The most challenging part of the job is the stuff you can't control.
PGA.com: Waialae is such a great venue for a tournament and I think that has a lot to do with the variety of champions the course yields. Bombers have won. Short knockers have won. Superstars have won. Guys that aren't household names have won. It's probably as level a playing field as any course on Tour. What do you think is the reason for that?
Carll: It's a very traditional layout. There's not a whole lot out there that's hidden. It's out in front of you. Tight fairways that are firm, a lot of doglegs, you have to control your ball around the course. Some of the doglegs limit the amount the long hitters can cut off, which makes it a strategic course where positioning is extremely important.