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Maui Nui Golf Club in Hawaii is a shotmaker's dream layout

KIHEI, MAUI, Hawaii -- If shotmaking prowess is your forte, Maui Nui Golf Club needs to be on your must-play list.

Tucked into the hillside in Kihei heading south on Maui, Maui Nui Golf Club is definitely one of those hidden gems. Forget bells and whistles. They're not needed here. What this golf course provides is a great challenge at a great price. Course architect Bill Newis' 6,801-yard layout must be managed well, not overpowered. And that's not always an easy task.

"It's definitely a course that is a good test of golf," said Mark Seki, head golf professional. "Our superintendent (Lance Sokugawa) has done a great job with the course. We've had people say that they've never seen the course in better shape, and that's a real compliment to the staff."

And it's also a compliment to a golf course that features enough doglegs and elevation changes to test anyone's club selection.

The 423-yard, par-4 fourth hole (it plays shorter if you take it over the trees on the right) is a prime example. The hole is a 90-degree dogleg some 220 yards off the tee. No problem? Well, with a bunker coming into play at the end of the fairway just 240 yards off the tee, accuracy is a must to give players a good lie for the approach shot.

Big hitters might choose to take it over the trees on the right and cut off the dogleg. Good luck with that play -- you're going to need it. Players who find the fairway will have an uphill second shot to a well-guarded green on this short but challenging hole. Come up short -- or go right -- and your ball is lost and you're hitting three from the tee. Like most holes here, play it safe -- and smart -- and you will give yourself a chance to score well.

Maui Nui's par-5 eighth, playing 513 yards from the tips, is a great scoring hole. Let it fly off the tee and leave yourself a long iron or hybrid into the green. But beware of a pair of bunkers long as well as one left and one right that will force players to thread the needle into the green.

One of the more scenic holes is the 15th, a 392-yard par 4. Water left and right narrow the landing area dramatically, so driver isn't always the proper choice. Play for position off the tee. Bunkers short and long around the green again require an accurate approach shot to hopefully set up a birdie putt.

The closing hole, a scenic 563-yard par 5, gives players a chance to finish the round with a birdie – or an eagle with two great shots. It's a severe dogleg left. A good drive to the left side of the fairway will leave players with a long but manageable second shot. Whether to lay up to a good wedge yardage or go for it in two will depend on your confidence -- and the ability to avoid bunkers surrounding the green. This is a great finishing hole.

Tom Brown, who has lived on Maui since 1966, has played just about every course on the island. He gives Maui Nui Golf Club a thumbs-up.

"It's a nice, fun golf course with reasonable rates," Brown said. "It's pretty open, but you do still have to hit it pretty straight."

A friendly staff helps players get ready for the round at this scenic layout, from loading your golf bags to telling players a little about the course and the adventure that awaits.

A large practice facility is open to players before they head to the first tee -- or just a great spot to work on their game.

"The great weather, the course condition and the price all add up to a good golf experience," Seki said.

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