There's a reason the PGA kicks off the calendar year with a tournament in Hawaii. While the rest of the U.S. is fighting off blizzards, torrential rains and cold snaps, the Islands are enjoying mild temperatures and mostly sunny skies.
For those who love nothing more than spending their leisure time on the links, it is a great time to visit the islands, specifically Kauai, which has at least three top-level courses, numerous amenities and more golf-related development on the way. Kauai boasts three of the top 10 courses in Golf Magazine's list of top Hawaii courses accessible to the public: Princeville Makai, Hokuala Ocean Course and Poipu Bay.
And even if you're putting up more bogeys than birdies, the scenic backdrop makes the scorecard irrelevant.
"The largest benefit of playing golf in Hawaii has to be the magnificent view of the ocean and scenery all over," said Fran Roach, Golf Club general manager at Hokuala and a PGA professional. "In wintertime you can watch whales and dolphins go by People take a tremendous amount of photos when they play here."
Hokuala Kauai Resort remodeled its Ocean Course during summer 2016, and it reopened in November. Enhancements include adjusting some of the hole designs to improve play, planting new grass on half of the holes and redoing the sand traps with white silica sand. The resort is scheduled to break ground soon on a clubhouse adjacent to the ninth fairway, and a new practice facility is weeks away from completion
Hokuala Kauai Resort recently renovated its Ocean Course and plans to build a new clubhouse to go along with a new practice facility. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Hokuala Kauai Resort
"It's a state-of-the-art practice facility with one of the largest grass practice areas and target greens on the island," Roach said. "We're offering multi-day teaching packages available for all level of golfers."
For those who find riding around in a golf cart too mellow, the resort now has four golf boards. The motorized, four-wheel scooters carry the golfer and their clubs, and players can use them to zip from hole to hole.
Sitting on bluffs over Hanalei Bay, Princeville Makai was named one of the top 100 public golf courses by Golf Digest and was renovated in 2011. The course at the St. Regis Princeville Resort offers challenging play set alongside picturesque views for stronger golfers, in addition to a more relaxed nine-hole Woods Course with a fun layout winding through native forest. "Sunset Golf Cart Tours" are also available, where guests can take in wildlife and scenery as the sun goes down as they shuttle from vista to vista in a golf cart.
Poipu Bay, adjacent to the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa, is the third championship-level course on Kauai. Situated on the sunny south shore of the garden island, the course is tucked into Poipu Bay and backed by verdant mountains. While playing golf here you may stumble across Hawaiian ruins, native geese, monk seals, sea turtles and humpback whales. While the scenery is top-notch, so is the play. From 1994 to 2006 Poipu Bay hosted the PGA Grand Slam of Golf. Poipu Bay Golf Course also offers "Practice & Play," all-day practice facility access with the opportunity to play the first three holes, and has 7-, 9-, 11- and 18-hole rounds available.
For more information on hitting the links visit Kauai Golf.