Hawaii’s Star-Studded Courses
By Katharine Dyson
More than 26 million play the game and if the destination is special, golfers will spend the money to get there and bring their pals. Indeed, golf is close to an $80 billion industry. Agents’ commissions can include the resort stay, the airfare, even the greens fees, and clinics in some resorts.
To better match clients’ skills with the right course, consider contacting a golf specialist such as Atlantic Golf (www.atlantic golf.com), Golf International (www.golfinternational.com), or Owenoak International Golf Travel (www.owenoak.com). or contact the North American Golf Tour Operators’ Alliance (www.nagtoa.com) for a comprehensive list.
With 70 courses and near-perfect weather, Hawaii is a golfer’s dream. Flowers bloom exuberantly, natural formations create drama and there is enough rain to keep the fairways lush and green. Maui, Kaua’i, Oahu and the Big Island are the places with the most golf, while Lanai has two spectacular 18-hole layouts. Owenoak’s John Murray likes The Big Island for the variety of things to do; Kauai for its low-key and lush ambiance; and Maui for its off-course options.
This island has more than 10 major golf courses. Ka’anapali, the largest of Maui’s resort areas with 4,700 rooms, has two championship golf courses. The Royal Ka’anapali (North) Course (right), designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. (1962) is a must-plays for visiting golfers while Ka’anapali Kai (South Course) located on a former sugar plantation, is a more forgiving course. Visit www.kaanapali-golf.com
The Wailea Golf Club set on the southwest shore of Maui boasts three 18-hole layouts: Wailea Old Blue, Wailea Emerald and Wailea Gold. Play any of Wailea’s three courses, Old Blue, Gold and Emerald, and you’ll be hitting shots against the formidable backdrop of the sea and the towering 10,023-foot dormant volcano, Mt. Haleakala. Lush green fairways offset by black lava walls — even glimpses of humpback whales during the right season — live up to everything a golfer is looking for.
On the less developed southeast coast, Robert Trent Jones Jr. designed the two Makena courses, North, the newest and more difficult course and South, more remote. Set on 1,800 acres, elevation changes create challenges as well as provide dramatic sea views. Makena’s resorts center around the 310-room Maui Prince Hotel (www.princeresortshawaii.com) with its Asian meditation garden and the Maui Makena Hotel (www.KBHMaui.com).
Kapalua Resort and two golf courses The Bay Course and the Plantation Course and the Kapalua Golf Academy, occupy 23,000-acres acres on Maui’s west coast. Playing a whopping 7,411-yards, the Plantation Course unfurls across breathtaking natural geographic formations and pineapple fields. The Bay Course, an Arnold Palmer and Francis Duane design, is a good choice for all skill levels. In addition to some low-key villa communities, there is a 445-room mid-rise Ritz-Carlton (www.Ritz-Carlton.com) that completed a $160 million transformation, adding the Waihua Spa.
Kaua’i is one of the quietest Hawaiian islands and also one of the most beautiful. Golf courses include the highly acclaimed Princeville Resort courses: the Princeville, a tough long (7,309 yards) with a killer finishing hole and the three nines of the Makai Course (Lakes, Ocean and Woods) as well as other excellent tracks like Puakea, Kaua’i’s newest course, and Poipu Bay home to the PGA Grand Slam of Golf.
Located within the 800-acre Kauai Lagoons Resort is the Marriott Resort & Beach Club and two Jack Nicklaus-designed championship golf courses, the Kiele Course with its cliff-hanging greens and the sportier Mokihana Course. “It’s gratifying to know that visitors to Kaua‘i come for many reasons, not the least of which is our wonderful golf and resort properties,“says Sue Kanoho, Executive Director of Kaua‘i’s Visitors Bureau. Visit www.kauaidiscovery.com
The Big Island
Many of the courses and resorts are located on the sunny northwest Kohala coast like Mauna Lani Resort's North Courses set atop an ancient lava flow and Mauna Lanai’s South Course. The Hapuna Golf Course is characterized by rolling, bluff-like terrain while other highly rated layouts include Hualalai Golf Course, Waikoloa Beach Course, and Mauna Kea Golf Course. South of Kohala, Kailua-Kona, boasts several courses including the Big Island Country Club, Kona Country Club’s Ocean Course and Ali’i Mountain Course. Makalei Golf Club is located on the slopes of Hualalai with 900-foot elevation. Visit www.maunalani.com
Here Honolulu, our country’s 11th largest city, buzzes with action. Home of Waikiki Beach and Pearl Harbor, Oahu is a complex island with something for everyone including golfers. The Sony Open is held at Waialae Country Club; the SBS Open at Turtle Bay Golf Club on the north shore of Oahu and the Fields Open at Ko Olina Golf Club.
For more information on Hawaii, call 800-464-2924; www.gohawaii.com