Through the Years: Waialae

The architectural history of Seth Raynor-designed Waialae Country Club, host of the PGA Tour's Sony Open


In our third episode of the Yolk with Doak,  we have an in-depth discussion with architect Tom Doak about Waialae Country Club, the Seth Raynor-designed course that hosts the PGA Tour’s Sony Open. Doak has been working with Waialae for the past several years to restore some of Raynor’s original ideas. Check out the podcast here:

To help listeners envision what Doak wants to accomplish at Waialae, we’ve put together a small collections of resources on the course. Special thanks to Scott Griffith of The Bottom Groove (Twitter: @bottomgrove) for helping with the imagery.

Waialae Country Club was one of Seth Raynor’s final designs. The architect died of pneumonia in January 1926, and the course opened 13 months later. It was intended to be part of a hotel and resort from the beginning, and it featured the usual array of “ideal holes” that Raynor and his mentor C.B. Macdonald used in their designs.

Seth Raynor's original plan for Waialae Country Club

For further insight into the original version of the course, check out this 1929 aerial photo that hangs in the Waialae clubhouse.

In addition, Raynor detailed his design in an article for Aloha Magazine. This article was recently uncovered by historian Anthony Pioppi.

Research credit: Anthony Pioppi (@anthonypioppi)

Finally, a 1952 aerial photo shows the entire course before the Kahala Hotel was built, eliminating most of the oceanside holes.

1952 aerial of Waialae Country Club. Research credit: @bottomgroove

The construction of the hotel forced Waialae to be completely rerouted. A comparison of the 1952 and 1966 aerials shows the changes clearly:

And here’s a comparison of the 1952 and 2016 aerials:

Here are some visuals for a pair of holes we focus on in the podcast. At minute 13, Doak talks about the Eden hole, No. 11.

And at minute 16, Doak delves into the Short hole, No. 7.

Thanks to PGA Tour pro Zac Blair for the up-to-date photos!

Sign Up for The Fried Egg Newsletter

The Fried Egg Newsletter is the best way to stay up to date on all things golf. Delivered every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for free!