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How Hawaii's golf gods conspired to build the perfect golfdom

By Katharine Dyson, Special Contributor

Way back before time and tiki torches, the golf god assembled some of his pals for a summit. Among the attendees were Kane, Hawaii's head god of all creation; Lono, god of games; Pele, goddess of the volcano; Hinakuluianu, goddess of rain; and, of course, Kiha, goddess of Maui.

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Kapua, the divine trickster of Hawaii mischief-makers, crashed the meeting. The golf god wasn't pleased. He had taken special pains to keep Kapua off the invitation list.

The following conversation ensued:

Golf god: "I've looked long and hard for the perfect place to build my golf courses. After checking out the whole planet, I've decided on Hawaii. But I'll need help."

Pele: "If you're looking for a land with brimstone and lava, some place where the volcanoes are mighty, I can help you. Imagine greens surrounded by deep-pitted, black lava flow."

Kapua (chortling): "Talk about hazards."

Golf god: "I'll buy that, but we need flowers, too, and plants that grow tall and thick and hibiscus and oleanders so lush, golfers will pay more just for the beauty."

Hinakuluianu: "No problem. I can make it rain on one side of a mountain, while the sun shines on the other."

Lono: "My day job is to bring winds and rain and to help things grow. I can help arrange the perfect climate. Just enough rain. Soft winds, temperatures in the 70s. All that stuff."

Hina, goddess of love, chiming in after her usual late arrival: "Hey, remember guys, we can't play golf 24-seven. Think of our Aloha spirit. Romance? Seduction? We'll need some places to relax, to make love."

Golf god: "Fine. I agree. And let's throw in softly waving palms, water lapping onto sand, jacuzzis in the moonlight. That should make you happy, Hina."

Then, as he grabbed a golf club and took a couple of practice swings, Golf god asked: "But who can help with timing, rhythm? Gotta have it."

Laka, goddess of song and dance, stood on the conference table and swayed her hips and arms, hula-style. The guy gods loved that.

"I can," she sung.

So back and forth they went until the committee devised a plan to create more than 70 golf courses, spread across all the Hawaiian Islands. Golf god even added some grand resorts and spas for good measure.

The big kahunas weighed in on the final plan. Priest-type sorcerers capable of supernatural powers, they informed the golf god they would agree to the deal only if they could get special concessions - like great golf-course designers and and terrific Mai Tais served at sunset.

Realizing it was essential to have the big kahunas on his side, the golf god agreed.

Oahu, capital of golfdom

And that was that. They started with Oahu, capital of the golfdom. After all, it was right in their backyard. True to their word, they brought in Arnold Palmer and George Fazio to design two major golf courses at Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore.

Hina applied her seductive powers to convince them to add the Spa Luana.

"Wait 'til you try my Lomilomi massage," Hina said in her sexiest voice.

The gods also conjured up Ko'Olina Golf Club and a slew of other fine tracks, including Olomana Golf Course in Waimanalo.

"Fit for a president," boomed Lono, obviously anticipating play by the 44th commander in chief.

But progress was not without glitches.

Big Island golf flourishes (with a little help from Rockefeller)

Hinakuluianu, the climate girl who was totally unconcerned about global warming, had bigger fish to fry on the Big Island. Home to the fiery Kilauea volcano, the Big Island would have 11 climate zones, she declared, producing lush rain forests, arid deserts, black sand beaches, azure seas and snow-capped mountaintops.

The Kohala Coast would be blessed with a near-perfect climate, glorious beaches and huge amounts of undeveloped land. But Hinakuluianu couldn't do it all. With the lava fields extending down to the sea, it was not exactly conducive to growing grass.

Golf god had a thought: They would bring in Laurance S. Rockefeller to solve the problem. He was one smart dude.

Golf god was right on. Rockefeller discovered they could pulverize the lava rock and use it as a bed for soil and grass. Talk about making lemonade out of lemons. So along with Robert Trent Jones, Sr., Rockefeller built Mauna Kea Golf Course. Golf god was ecstatic.

Standing firm on Kauai

Hinakuluianu stood firm on Kauai, insisting they preserve the garden-like aspect of the island. Dreaming about Bali Hai, Hinakuluianu designated just 3 percent of the land for development.

Meanwhile, wily Kapua, who also had his eye on Kauai, pulled a trick or two by allowing for the release of chickens and roosters on the island during Hurricane Iniki in 1992.

"You'll not sleep through your morning tee times," chuckled Kapua.

To this day on the majestic Puakea, Poipu Bay, Kauai Lagoons and Princeville golf courses, roosters and chickens skitter helter-skelter, ducking under hibiscus bushes and Plumeria trees whenever your get near.

Slam dunk golf on Maui

Maui was another slam dunk. It had everything from a great climate, lush greenery, volcanoes and knockout sea views. The gods easily distributed more than 10 major golf courses, primarily in Ka'anapali, Wailea, Makena and Kapalua.

Pele was particularly proud when Old Blue Course at Wailea Golf Club was recognized by the Historical Society for its preservation of prehistoric lava rock walls.

knock-'em-dead golf on Lanai

Finally turning to Lanai, Golf god said, "Lanai, may be small, but if we bring in Jack Nicklaus and the team of Greg Norman and Ted Robinson, we can build two knock-'em-dead golf courses."

And so they did, completing the cliffhanger Challenge at Manele and the Experience at Koele.

So when you find yourself stuck between a lava rock and a hard place, blame it on the golf gods.

Katharine DysonKatharine Dyson, Special Contributor

Katharine Dyson is a golf and travel writer for several national publications as well as guidebook author and radio commentator. Her journeys have taken her around the world playing courses and finding unique places to stay. She is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America, Metropolitan Golf Writers of America; Golf Travel Writers Organization and Society of American Travel Writers. Follow Katharine on Twitter at @kathiegolf.

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