Indianapolis-based travel advisor Alex Kutin has played golf since he was a kid, and he loves to hit the tees when he is traveling. So when he got a call recently from two golf buddies who wanted help planning their bucket-list Hawaii golf vacation, Kutin jumped at the chance.
"I'm an old dude who grew up with the sport," he said. "It was fun for me to plan it for them."
Hawaii has a lot of checks in the plus column when it comes to destination golf experiences. The weather is almost always right for a round, and it's home to several top-flight courses, including two on Golf Digest's Top 200 list: the Plantation Course at Kapalua and Mauna Kea Golf Course.
Kutin, a member of the Travel Leaders network and a Hawaii destination and golf vacation specialist, offered some advice for Aloha State golf.
Q: What is your favorite course to play?
A: I played in Hawaii three years ago at Ko Olina Golf Club on Oahu, and I absolutely loved it. It's perfect. The location, the views … what more could you want?
Q: If you had to pick one island for a client's first Hawaii golf vacation, which one would it be?
A: Maui. It has it all. Maui has great golf, but also so many other great things, too. It has good restaurants, shopping, beaches, just everything. It's a well-rounded island with a lot to see and do.
You can also take the ferry from Maui to Lanai and play the Jack Nicklaus-designed course over there at the Four Seasons, and you can come back in the afternoon.
Q: How is golfing in Hawaii different from golfing in other places?
A: In general, all of the courses in Hawaii are very well maintained. Even the smaller, less expensive courses are in very good shape. And of course, the weather -- there's never a bad time to go.
Q: Any tips for first-time golf vacationers?
A: If you are giving your clubs to the airline, be sure to use a hard case and not a soft travel bag. If you use a soft bag, your clubs are likely to be damaged. I recommend shipping your clubs to the resort. I find they're less likely to be damaged that way.
Q: Any other advice for someone headed to Hawaii for golf?
A: Take me with you. I want to go.