Road Holes — 27 January 2013 by Jim Street
Prince: A dual-purpose driving range

PRINCEVILLE, Hi. – A novel idea could add even more prestige to what already is considered by many as the premier golf course on Kauai – the Prince Course at Princeville.

On March 1, a concept spearheaded by General Manager T.J. Baggett will turn the 13-acre driving range into a dual-purpose facility, also becoming a par-3 course.

“At the end of the day, when no one is using the driving range, we’re going to open it up to anyone who wants to play a par-3 course,” Baggett said. “Right now, there are going to be six holes, but we have a nine-hole layout designed and we hope to have it open next year.”

The grand plan is to use the par-3 course to attract beginning golfers, including kids, to the game.

“The tourists in Princeville are looking for things to do and that’s what we are trying to do – be creative and give families something more to do that is fun,” Baggett added. “They can come out and for five or 10 bucks play the course in about an hour.

The new sixth green on the par 3 course

“The industry is at the point where we have to do a better job of getting the lapse golfers, the ones who have stopped playing because of the cost or whatever. We have to go out and find new golfers, beginning golfers. People come to this island to hike, surf and all these other activities. We have to make golf part of that experience.”

There currently are five pin positions in use at the Prince driving range and a sixth position was recently mowed on far right side on the range. Tee position placements have been mapped out so that the golfers won’t be hitting into each other.

“We made sure we had plenty of space for a nine-hole course,” Baggett said, adding that the average hole will be 68 yards. “We put some tees up on the hills, cleared out some brush and the players will hit out of the trees. Once we get to nine holes, I really think it will create some attention. It is pretty innovative and neat. “

Baggett said he got the driving range-par 3 course idea from PGA of America in Port St. Lucie, Florida, where he still owns a condo. There are 54 holes and a 36-acre practice facility that doubles as a par 3 course.

“We have an opportunity to package all kinds of stuff,” Baggett said, “like play a full round of golf on the Prince Course and then play the par 3 course for free. That is something we’re considering, along with targeting families and kids at the resort. An entire family could come out and play for $25 or $30, play 12 holes by going around twice in a little more than an hour.”

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Jim Street

Jim’s 40-year sportswriting career started with the San Jose Mercury-News in 1970 and ended on a full-time basis on October 31, 2010 following a 10-year stint with MLB.com. He grew up in Dorris, Calif., several long drives from the nearest golf course. His first tee shot was a week before being inducted into the Army in 1968. Upon his return from Vietnam, where he was a war correspondent for the 9th Infantry Division, Jim took up golf semi-seriously while working for the Mercury-News and covered numerous tournaments, including the U.S. Open in 1982, when Tom Watson made the shot of his life on the 17th hole at Pebble Beach. Jim also covered several Bing Crosby Pro-Am tournaments, the women’s U.S. Open, and other golfing events in the San Francisco area. He has a 17-handicap, never had a hole-in-one, although once he came within two inches of an ace, and witnessed the first round Ken Griffey Jr. ever played – at Arizona State during Spring Training in 1990. Pebble Beach Golf Links, the Kapalua Plantation Course, Pinehurst No. 2, Spyglass Hill, Winged Foot, Torrey Pines, Medinah, Chambers Bay, North Berwick in Scotland, and Princeville are among the courses he has had the pleasure of playing. Hitting the ball down the middle of the fairway is not a strong part of Jim’s game, but he is known (in his own mind) as the best putter not on tour. Most of Jim’s writing career was spent covering Major League baseball, a tenure that started with the Oakland Athletics, who won 101 games in 1971, and ended with the Seattle Mariners, who lost 101 games in 2010. Symmetry is a wonderful thing. He currently lives in Seattle and vacations in Arizona (and other warm climates) as much as possible.

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