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No Better Place on Earth

The following is an excerpt from an article in the March 2001 issue of Golf Digest.

"Volcano," he said. "No better place on Earth."

You drive south on Route 11. You round a rising curve. Sha-zaam!

Suddenly, your eyes can't see it all. Mauna Loa fills the sky. It's an active volcano 13,677 feet high. Its slopes fall 30 and 40 miles to the ocean. Measured from the ocean floor, the volcano is twice as high as that Himalayan pimple, Mount Everest. It's the largest volcanic land mass in the world.

You look, awed, and you decide, yes, gods live up there.

For $63, you can play golf on the gods' grounds.

Even as I paid, Reynold Lee, then the pro at Volcano Golf & Country Club, asked, "What're you doing all the way out here?

"My buddy's at the Four Seasons on the other side of the island, and I'm at Uncle Billy's."

"You got ripped."

Au contraire. Wild turkeys on the Volcano's seventh fairway. Seldom-seen Hawaiian hawks above the second. Nene geese resting (signs advise that anyone harming the state bird can be fined $250,000). Pine and ohia trees decorate Volcano's testy layout.

I hooked up with Mike Combs and Skip Langell, mainlanders-turned-Hawaiians who play together at Volcano maybe 240 times a year.

"The climate's perfect here," Combs said. "It's quiet, and it's beautiful. Because it's out of the way -- you're probably the only 'tourist' here -- it's not crowded. It's one of the few places in Hawaii that you can play in four hours, not six."

"This golf course," Langell said, "is the best-kept secret in Hawaii."

Good. Otherwise, anyone who ever stood on the third tee would invite a thousand friends to Volcano next week. From that tee, you see the snowcapped summit of Mauna Loa and you hear -- yes, you hear -- a whisper, "Stay. Right here. Stay."

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Volcano Golf & Country Club Restaurant  
Pii Mauna Dr.  
Hawaii Volcanoes Nat'l Park,  HI  96718  
(808) 967-8228  


(808) 967-7331

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