Before taking on the Plantation Course on Maui, fine-tune your game at the Kapalua Golf Academy

LAHAINA, Hawaii -- The pros make the Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort look fairly tame during the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, hitting 250-yard approaches on 18 with irons. But for most mortals, that course is anything but easy with all the unusual lies and almost always-present wind. So bringing your best is imperative.

Fortunately, for those who aren't feeling it come game day at either of the two terrific courses at Kapalua, there's the Kapalua Golf Academy, operated by Troon Golf. Golfers can use it for a one-time lesson, half-day golf school or if they really want to develop their game, the three-day golf school. Best of all, it all takes place at one of the best settings in the world.

What to expect at Kapalua Golf Academy

Located close to Kapalua's Bay Course and just a mile or so from the famed Plantation Course, the Hale Irwin-designed facility has a setting befitting of Kapalua. From its state-of-the-art facility, which includes hitting bays to a giant horseshoe-shaped grass range, there are great views of the Pacific Ocean below.

Named one of the top 25 golf schools in America, according to Golf Magazine, Kapalua Golf Academy boasts an experienced staff of PGA Professionals who teach students who want a quick fix or to rebuild their game.

"We know this is a little different beast than the mainland," said Gregory Fields, senior instructor at the Kapalua Golf Academy.

Fields has been at the Academy for 13 years. He's seen all sorts of students, but the common denominator among all of them is that he has to get to know them quickly. Fields has to figure out what they want out of their learning experience, how much they practice, how much they play and what their expectations are.

Some students are just a tweak or two, and the last thing he wants to do is make golf complicated before they tackle the demanding Plantation Course, for example.

"I have a few people who come every year and stay for a few weeks, and I'll see their incremental progress and tendencies creep back up. But I think any instructor would know this: You have to really know the student, so a big part of what we do is to quickly find why they're here."

At the Kapalua Golf Academy, what they don't say is as important as what they do say. Sometimes they don't use video, but often they do, especially for the schools.

"You can give them way too much information," Fields said, "and really, they're not looking for the perfect golf swing. They just want to play better."

In theory, it really boils down to some simple principles, Fields said.

"They've got to find the bottom of the arc, and the clubface is square," Fields said. "Everything we do is geared toward finding the bottom of the arc."

Packages at Kapalua Golf Academy

Golf instruction at the Kapalua Golf Academy ranges from individual lessons to half days to three-day golf schools. There are individual and corporate programs available. Best of all, playing lessons are a common component to much of the curriculum.

It's during those playing lessons that instructors often find their students' true tendencies. Plus, that's the opportunity for instruction in strategy, awkward lies and reading greens.

Speaking of greens, the schools, depending on the length, also include putting and short-game instruction. Golf schools do, in fact, start on the greens, followed by short game and the full swing. The idea is to build upon the mini-swings in the short game to a full golf swing.

For more information, visit Kapalua Golf Academy's Web site.

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trip to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.
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Before taking on the Plantation Course on Maui, fine-tune your game at the Kapalua Golf Academy