Waialae Country Club has a 'W' of palm trees, and here's how it happened
Golf Culture

Waialae Country Club has a ‘W’ of palm trees, and here’s how it happened


Waialae Country Club, home of the 2024 Sony Open in Hawaii on the PGA Tour, hasn't always had a W made from four palm trees behind the seventh green (the 16th hole for the Sony Open).

In fact, the palm-tree W has only been around since 2009 -- just a small portion of the club's nearly century-long history.

The story behind the palm-tree W, according to Matt Ginella, really centers on Waialae member Ethan Abbott, who came up with the idea and lobbied the club for a year to approve it. After finally doing some investigating, the club learned the project of taking four existing palm trees behind the hole and moving them to create the W would cost just $4,000.

Perhaps the immediate reaction from a certain viewer would be of the treasure map from the 1963 movie "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World," where the money is buried under an enormous W of palm trees.


So, how'd the club do it? Superintendent Dave Nakama took four trees altogether and replanted them so as to convince the palms to grow sideways. He used a pair of the original four trees behind the green as supports until the newly planted trees could stand up on their own.

Now, the palm-tree W is iconic and associated with the club. It's a logo the staff wear on their shirts. It's in a ton of wedding photos.

Every single year, it's shown on TV and turns out to be an iconic part of the club's imagery.

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