Golf in Hawaii is a study in variance. At the same time, the island game is littered with awe-inspiring topography–replete with the expected natural beauty–and not-so-subtle dangers from tee to green. Perhaps that's what makes playing golf on Hawaiian courses so intriguing: You don't mind the occasional double bogey when you're in paradise.
Indeed, island golf is both beauty and beast–there's no way to sugarcoat it. But after spending just a few hours on the islands, you wouldn't want it any other way. Hawaii's geographic wonders are incumbent on all sides, instilling the notion that you're securely entrenched in a land with an undeviated link to earth's prehistoric past. On several courses, at any moment, you half expect a Tyrannosaurus rex to lumber around the next corner and point its hungry head in your direction. Of course, that won't happen, but you'll surely get a little weak in the knees facing the awe-inspiring beauty of courses like the Kiele course at Kaua'i Lagoons, Poipu Bay Golf Course or all three course at Kapalua. Whatever the cost (even if it's a dozen new Pro V1s), summon the courage, do the deed and walk away with a great story to tell all your friends; not that you slayed a T. rex, but that you met the challenge of some of the most scenic golf courses in all the world.
A recent poll of professional golfers showed that Hawaii is their favorite place to visit. And it's no wonder, with eight of the top 25 resort courses in the country situated amongst the Hawaiian Islands. It's amazing how the world's best golf course designers __Ò Jack Nicklaus, Robert Trent Jones, Arnold Palmer __Ò were able to visualize and create courses up, down, and around cliffs, beaches, rolling hills and lava fields. _Ê _Ê_Ê_Ê _Ê _Ê_Ê_Ê _Ê Of course, any trip to Hawaii wouldn't be complete without enjoying the encompassing beaches and ocean side resorts. In fact, when it comes to golf, it's a safe bet that most golf courses are either affiliated with or located in close proximity to a variety of hotels and resorts. For more, visit our Stay and Play section, where you'll find the best of both worlds.
When To Go
Weather on all of the Hawaiian Islands is consistent, with only minor changes in temperature throughout the year. This is due to year-round warm sea surface temperatures, which keep the overlying atmosphere warm as well. In practical terms, there are only two seasons: the summer months (called Kau in Hawaiian) that extend from May to October and the winter months (Ho'oilo) that run from November to April. The average daytime summer temperature at sea level is 85 degrees F. while the average daytime winter temperature is 78 degrees. Temperatures at night are approximately 10 degrees F. lower. _Ê_Ê_Ê _Ê _Ê_Ê_Ê
What To Bring
If there is one thing certain about Hawaiian weather, it's to always expect the uncertain. Weather patterns can change from day to day, sometimes hour to hour, often with or without the occasional tropical shower. Always pack an umbrella and a lightweight rain jacket. You'll rarely find a cold spot in Hawaii, but it can rain at a moment's notice. Otherwise, when the weather is perfect–it's shorts season for everyone.
When it comes to equipment, be sure to pack a few extra golf balls. In fact, pack as many as you can. Several of the courses in Hawaii are on the narrow side, often replete with elevation changes that can trick your eyes into believing there is or isn't fairway to land your golf ball. And, buying a few extra sleeves when you get here can be costly.
Hybrid clubs are also a solid choice. As mentioned, fairways are sometime hard to hit, requiring accurate placements for a good look at the green. Courses here also tend to be shorter in overall length, thus making it a lot more important to hit the fairway than to hit the ball as far as you can.GT Selects: Hawaii's Best Stay and Plays _ÊMaui _Ê The Dunes at Maui Lani Golf Course Located in central Maui, The Dunes at Maui Lani is an 18-hole throwback to the Golden Age of course architecture–with a healthy mix of neo-design features to boot. Par 72, 6841 yards (73.5/136) (Robin Nelson)
(808) 873-0422 www.dunesatmauilani.com Kaanapali Golf Club The Tournament North and Resort South championship golf courses at Kaanapali have achieved legendary status. Maui's idyllic climate and the fabled setting of the west Maui coastline certainly add to the mystique. Several resorts are also located nearby; just visit www.kaanapaliresort.com. Tournament Course Par 71, 6693 yards (71.8/129) (Robert Trent Jones)
Par 71, 6555 yards (71.2/126) (Arthur Jack Snyder)
(866) 454-GOLF www.kaanapali-golf.com Kapalua Home to the Mercedes Championships, Kapalua is widely considered as home to some of the best and most challenging courses in the world. With three courses to choose from, the excitement never runs out. Also, don't miss the fabulous Ritz-Carlton Kapalua located nearby (www.ritzcarlton.com). The Bay Course Par 72, 6600 yards (72.1/136) (Arnold Palmer/Francis Duane)
The Village Course Par 70, 6738 yards (71.5/134) (Arnold Palmer/Ed Seay)
The Plantation Course Par 73, 7263 yards (74.9/138) (Ben Crenshaw/Bill Coore)
(800) KAPALUA www.kapaluamaui.com The Maui Prince Hotel, Makena Designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr., the Makena North Course resembles a tranquil park more than it does a golf course, with captivating mountain views of Haleakala Crater and sweeping views of the blue Pacific Ocean. The South Course is just as beautiful, and equally enticing for consummate shotmakers looking to make lots of birdies. Accommodations are both spectacular and plentiful. North Course Par 72, 6914 yards (72.1/139) (Robert Trent Jones, Jr.)
South Course Par 72, 7014 yards (72.6/138) (Robert Trent Jones Jr.)
(866) PRINCE-6 www.mauiprince.com Grand Wailea Resort & Spa One of the most popular resorts in all of Hawaii, Wailea beckons golfers from all over the world to challenge each of the three thrilling golf courses amid some of Hawaii's most revered scenic backdrops. The Gold Course is home to the LPGA's Wendy's Skins Game. Blue Course Par 72, 6765 yards (72.2/120) (Robert Trent Jones Jr.)
Emerald Course Par 72, 6825 yards (71.7/130) (Arthur Jack Snyder)
Gold Course Par 72, 7075 yards (73.4/137) (Robert Trent Jones Jr.)
(800) 888-1600 www.grandwailea.com _Ê
Lanai _Ê The Challenge at Manele Bay Hotel High above the rolling surf that crashes into the cliffs of Hulopoe Bay, the magnificent Challenge at Manele beckons golfers from around the world with its dramatic terrain of plunging gorges and verdant ravines. Designed by the legendary Jack Nicklaus, The Challenge is a course you will rightly anticipate, and will celebrate long after your round has ended. Par 72, 7039 yards (73.3/133) (Jack Nicklaus)
(800) 321-4666 www.manelebayhotel.com The Lodge at Koele From stunning mountain vistas to lush greens surrounded by century-old Cook Pines, a round at Koele is much more than a game. It is truly an experience. Designed by Greg Norman, this championship course has garnered numerous awards and accolades since its opening a mere decade ago. Par 72, 7014 yards (73.3/141) (Greg Norman)
(808) 565-3500 www.lodgeatkoele.com _ÊOahu _Ê The Hawaii Prince Hotel, Waikiki Designed by Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay, the Hawaii Prince Golf Club boasts 27 dramatic holes - the only golf course of its kind in Hawaii. It occupies 270 acres of sheer beauty and offers stunning views of the rain-carved Waianae mountains, making it one of the most memorable golf experiences on the island of Oahu. It's the only hotel in Waikiki with its own golf course. Par 72 (7,117-7,255 yards) (Arnold Palmer/Ed Seay)
(808) 956-1111 www.princeresortshawaii.com/HPH Ko'olau Golf Club Designed to utilize the natural ruggedness and beauty of the tropical rain forest and mountains, Ko'olau's 7,310 yard, par-72 championship course features spectacular views from the Ko'olau's to the Pacific Ocean and a different challenge on each hole. In fact, Ko'olau is considered the toughest course in the United States–the course has a sky high 162 difficulty rating. The nearby Hyatt Regency Waikiki Resort & Spa is the perfect place to dine and relax between rounds. (waikiki.hyatt.com) Par 72, 7310 yards (76.4/162) (Dick Nugent)
(808) 247-7088 www.koolaugolfclub.com Makaha Resort Golf Club The golf course, known as "Makaha West," William F. Bell's 1969 masterpiece, remains one of the top golf courses on Oahu. Spanning the rugged cliffs of the Waianae Range and O'ahu's pristine western shore, the Makaha Resort Golf Club offers a landscape of quiet splendor. Par 72, 7077 yards (73.2/139) (William Francis Bell)
(808) 695-9544 www.makaharesort.com Turtle Bay Resort Spectacular golf opportunities on two championship courses. The Arnold Palmer Course is the site of the PGA Champions Tour Turtle Bay Championship, and yields scenery that matches the challenge of each and every hole. The Tom Fazio Course is a bit more modernized, but equally as rewarding and pleasing on the eyes. The cuisine and hospitality at Turtle Bay is renowned as some of the best in all of Hawaii. Arnold Palmer Course Par 72, 7199 yards (74.4/143) (Arnold Palmer)
Fazio Course Par 72, 6535 yards (71.2/131) (Tom Fazio)
(808) 293-6000 www.turtlebayresort.com
Kaua'i _Ê Kaua'i Lagoons Golf Club Kaua'i Lagoons Golf Club is home to two award-winning Jack Nicklaus-designed golf courses. The dramatic Kiele Course weaves along imposing ocean cliffs, lush valleys, and among 40 acres of fresh water lagoons. Its companion, the Mokihana Course is a Scottish-style links course that features open fairways and well-guarded, small undulating greens. Kiele Course Par 72, 7070 yards (73.7/137) (Jack Nicklaus)
Mokihana Course Par 72, 6960 yards (73.1/127) (Jack Nicklaus)
(800) 634-6400 www.kauailagoons.com Poipu Bay Here, nature and renowned designer Robert Trent Jones Jr. have conspired to create a stunning venue for the star-studded PGA Grand Slam of Golf. A unique and unforgettable golf experience awaits you; one that will bring every aspect of your game into fresh and thrilling focus. Par 72, 6959 yards (73.4/134) (Robert Trent Jones Jr.)
(800) 858-6300 www.poipubay.com The Princeville Resort Dubbed the best golf course in Hawaii by those who know golf courses, The Princeville Golf Resort is not to be missed. It is also included in their prestigious list of "America's 100 Greatest Golf Courses." Robert Trent Jones, Jr. has fashioned 45 of the most beautiful, tropical holes of golf in the world. They range along green bluffs that skirt mountains and the bluest ocean, offering stunning views everywhere you look. Prince Course Par 72, 7309 yards (75.3/145) (Robert Trent Jones Jr.)
Makai Course 27 Holes (Robert Trent Jones Jr.) (800) 826-4400 www.princeville.com _Ê _Ê _ÊBig Island _Ê The Hapuna Beach Prince This 18-hole championship course is nestled in the dramatic natural contours of the land from the shoreline to about 700 feet above sea level. The course offers spectacular views of the Kohala Coast, while majestic mountains form the backdrop. Par 72, 6875 yards (73.3/136) (Arnold Palmer/Ed Seay)
(808) 880-1111 www.hapunabeachhotel.com Mauna Lani Bay Hotel The Francis H. I'i Brown course opened in 1981, and has secured its place among the finest courses in the world offering 36 holes of continuous play. The course has spectacular scenery with ocean views and green fairways famously patterned with black lava. The South Course is home to the Champions Tour Skins game. Multiple accommodations are available. North Course Par 72, 6913 yards (73.2/136) (Robin Nelson/Robbie Wright redesign)
South Course Par 72, 6938 yards (72.8/133) (Robin Nelson/Robbie Wright redesign)
(808) 885-6622 www.maunalani.com The Mauna Kea Beach Hotel The incomparable Mauan Kea Golf Course offers golfers the perfect challenge to match their level of play. Created by Robert Trent Jones, Sr., the 18-hole championship course presents dramatic changes in elevation, large undulating greens, and 120 well-placed bunkers. Par 72, 7124 yards (75.3/142) (Robert Trent Jones Jr.)
(866) PRINCE-6 www.maunakeabeachhotel.com Waikoloa Beach Resort Golf Designed by former British Open Champion Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish, the 7,074-yard King's Course at Waikoloa features links-style golf carved over and around an ancient lava flow. The Beach Course, opened in 1981 by Robert Trent Jones Jr., features numerous white sand-bunkers, brilliant water features and the most spectacular oceanfront par-five in Hawaii on the 502-yard, twelfth hole. Don't miss the Hilton Waikoloa Village–it's the best place to stay nearby. (www.hiltonwaikoloavillage.com)
Beach Course Par 70, 6566 yards (71.6/134) (Robert Trent Jones Jr.)
King Course Par 72, 7074 yards (73.4/135) (Tom Weiskopf/Jay Morrish)
(877) WAIKOLOA www.waikoloabeachresort.com