2015 Hyundai Tournament of Champions | Insider's look

Hyundai Tournament of Champions
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Kapalua's breathtaking Plantation Course in Maui is the site of this week's Hyundai Tournament of Champions.
By T.J. Auclair
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Series: Local Knowledge

Published: Thursday, January 08, 2015 | 10:20 a.m.

Is there a better place to start off a new calendar year than on a tropical island?

We don't think so... and neither does the PGA Tour, which resumes its 2014-15 season this week on the beautiful island of Maui in Hawaii, where a field of 34 winners from last season will tee off in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions at Kapalua's Plantation Course beginning on Friday.

Few courses on the PGA Tour have more raw beauty than the Plantation Course, which features breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean with dramatic elevation changes.

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Because of the elevation changes, the elements can play a big role when it comes to scoring conditions.

"There are a number of factors that will play a role in the outcome of the scores -- the elements just may be the largest," said Scott Carroll, the PGA Head Professional at Kapalua. "The Plantation Course was designed by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore to be playable with the understanding that the elements on the island can be very dynamic."

It's those extreme elevation changes -- combined with the island's Kona or Trade winds -- that make for creative shot-making around the course.

"Every club in the bag will be tested and the champion will have to be in total control of the trajectory and shape of his shots," Carroll said. "In addition to a little wind, sun, and maybe a blessing of a rain shower or two, complete focus will need to be put on the golf shots and that can sometimes be difficult with whales breaching, surfers enjoying the waves, and rainbows in the background."

So, again, it's easy to get lost in the beauty on and surrounding the Plantation Course.

The 663-yard, par-5 18th at the Plantation Course is one of the most exciting finishing holes on the PGA Tour.

"It can be reached in two shots under the right conditions, Carroll explained. "In years past, from a tournament standpoint, it's provided an incredible stage for the dramatic and we hope that this year it will once again provide some excitement. On a daily basis, we hear from many of our guests how memorable it is because of the potential for the 'longest drive of my life.'"

Everyone loves the long ball and there will be plenty of them hit at Kapalua this week. 


T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for PGA.com and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.