Local Knowledge: 2012 Sony Open in Hawaii

Waialae Country Club
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Waialae Country Club is the site of this week's Sony Open in Hawaii.
T.J. Auclair, Interactive Producer

Series: Local Knowledge

Published: Thursday, January 12, 2012 | 9:28 a.m.

The PGA Tour is in Oahu this week for the first full-field event of the 2012 season -- the Sony Open in Hawaii at the Waialae Country Club.

Flight-time from last week's stop in Maui to this week's stop in Oahu is roughly 20 minutes. That said Waialae couldn't be more different than Kapalua, as Waialae PGA Head Professional Kevin Carll explains in this week's Local Knowledge.


Waialae Country Club is the venue for this week's Sony Open in Hawaii. Have you played it? If so, click on its name to write a review of your experience. Also, be sure to check out our PGA.com Course Guide to review all the courses you've played and to find the perfect course for your next round.

Our local expert
Kevin Carll
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Carll gave a lot of great insight about the event, as well as what it's like to make your PGA Tour debut -- something he did in the Sony Open seven years ago.

PGA.com: Thanks for joining us again, Kevin. We're sure it will be another great week in paradise. Let's start with the defending champion, Mark Wilson. His win at the Sony Open in Hawaii in 2011 set the tone for a spectacular season, which included two wins and nine top 25s. It may be the first full-field event of the year, but is it safe to say that the Sony truly is a tone setter for a lot of the players?

Carll: I think so. I would hope the $990,000 first-place prize brings a sense of calm as well as a confirmation that you can still win on the biggest stage. Maybe the challenge then becomes the ability to sustain your drive throughout the year.

PGA.com: Speaking of setting a tone, through the years the Sony Open has become the first PGA Tour start ever for many rookies. In fact, you made your first start there seven years ago. What's it like to see some of the rookies who have never participated in a Tour event throughout the week, realizing a dream come true?

Carll: Yes, I qualified for the Sony Open seven years ago. It was such a surreal experience. For years I was focused on perfecting my game in hopes of one day playing in a PGA Tour event and here I was, checking in to receive my credentials for the week. Everyone told me to soak it in and treat it like every other tournament I have played in. I thought to myself, sounds easy enough. I soon realized it was a bit more than our PGA Section Championship. I put way too much effort into my practice rounds and consistently asked myself if I could play with these guys. I didn't sleep much Wednesday night knowing the following day would be my first round in a PGA Tour event. I struggled for 36 holes and my game never felt comfortable. The entire experience is one that I'll never forget and I hope to have some redemption one day.

PGA.com: What's the best aspect of your job at Waialae Country Club?

Carll: Without a doubt, our membership. We have members from all walks of life and the life lessons as well as professional advice is priceless. I continue to learn each and every day I come to work.

PGA.com: You've got a number of players making the short trip to Waialae from last week's event at Kapalua, including champion Steve Stricker. For people who might think the two courses are similar because they're both in Hawaii, can you please explain how -- in reality -- the two courses couldn't be more different?

Carll: There are two similarities between Waialae Country Club and Kapalua's Plantation Course -- Bermuda grass and we're both located in the state of Hawaii. The two courses are on opposite ends of the spectrum. Kapalua must cover four times the acreage we have at Waialae. Kapalua has extreme changes in elevation from tee to green while our facility is fairly flat. Waialae Country Club has two holes on the water and Kapalua is situated in the foothills above the ocean. Waialae is a classic design with a Redan hole as well as a Biarritz hole while Kapalua has 18 holes of their own.

PGA.com: In your mind, what would make for an ideal finish late Sunday afternoon?

Carll: Good weather and a grateful winner.