Family-friendly courses offer classes, special rates

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The WikiWiki Course at Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows was designed for families and young golfers.
The WikiWiki Course at Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows was designed for families and young golfers.

Hawaii's sandy beaches and colorful luaus are well known to visiting families, but perhaps lesser known is that the Aloha State also abounds in family-friendly golf venues.

Many of Hawaii's courses, both public and at resorts, offer family-friendly programs, providing parents a great way to get keiki (the Hawaiian word for children) to drop the video games and pick up a club.

Youth participation in the sport is way up. PGA Junior League Golf membership has surged to 42,000 boys and girls. Who knows? A family golf vacation may inspire the next Michelle Wie or Jordan Spieth.

Here are five family-friendly golf venues throughout the Aloha State:

• Wailea Golf Club on Maui: Each of Wailea's three courses feature colorful tee markers, making their keiki course shorter to encourage young players while keeping them from getting frustrated. After 3 p.m., kids play free when accompanied by a paying adult. The offer includes free junior club rentals.

Nearby resorts: Fairmont Kea Lani, Four Seasons Resort Maui.

• Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows on the Island of Hawaii: Mauna Lani features two standard resort courses and a third course specifically for families. A family can play a round on the nine-hole WikiWiki Course in about an hour without worrying about holding up seasoned golfers. Customized lessons are available, and junior clubs rentals are free.

Note: The hotel closes on Oct. 1 for a 14-month renovation, but its golf courses will remain open.

• Ko Olina Golf Club on Oahu: Ko Olina is one of only two resort-zoned parcels on Oahu. This meticulously planned resort features four man-made lagoons and resort golf, which is open to the public. Juniors accompanied by a paying adult golf free daily after 3 p.m., when there is often a lull in the action, so families can take their time. Personalized instruction at the Ko Olina Golf Academy is available at a junior rate.

Nearby resorts: Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina; Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa.

• Princeville Makai Golf Club on Kauai: The club's Junior Golf Program makes family golf affordable. When accompanied by a paying adult, children ages 6 to 15 play for free after 10 a.m., while 16- and 17-year-olds play for half the adult rate. Junior club rentals are free. Complimentary instruction is available when taking a class with a paying adult. Keep it fun with keiki rules, including using a "dad wedge" or "foot wedge" for relief from bunkers or out-of-bounds to make these hazards less frustrating.

Nearby resort: St. Regis Princeville.

• Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu: Monday through Friday, resort guests can bring juniors out to play for free after 3 p.m. Junior clubs are included. Private and semiprivate lessons for juniors are available.

Keiki rules: Score with a happy face or a sad face instead of numbers. Keep the game moving by playing "best ball" to take the focus off the worst shot.

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