Golf remains a popular activity for Hawaii visitors, and an afternoon on one of the state's top-flight courses is a great way to take in some breathtaking scenery while on an island vacation.
The two leading markets for golfers to Hawaii are the U.S. and Canada. Figures have remained relatively steady in recent years, with 11% of all U.S. visitors and 8% of all Canadian visitors playing golf during their island vacation in 2012, and 9% of U.S. travelers and 10% of Canadians hitting the tees in 2016, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority.
Hawaii is a top destination for Pleasant Holidays, and the company's affiliate in-destination tour, activity and events wing, Pleasant Activities, is based in Honolulu.
Pleasant Holidays president and CEO Jack Richards knows both golf and Hawaii. "I've played a lot of golf," he said, "and I've played a lot of golf in Hawaii."
In an interview with contributor Tovin Lapan, Richards offered some advice for agents.
Q: What's your first piece of advice for a Hawaii golf trip?
A: The essence of golf in Hawaii is you have to pick a course with an ocean view. You come to Hawaii to see the lush scenery, the ocean and beaches. One of my favorites when I go to Maui is the Wailea Golf Club. It has just a magnificent view, and it's very challenging.
Q: What should agents and travelers keep in mind when booking a golf vacation?
A: Planning the golf vacation starts well before you leave. You can't just get the tee times booked and leave it there. How are you going to pack or ship your golf clubs, on the airline or separately? … You have to be careful with a rental car. One time I got a convertible, which a lot of people like to do in Hawaii, and the clubs wouldn't fit in the trunk with the top down, so I had to put them in the back seat. A lot of thought goes into a golf vacation package.
Q: What kind of patterns do you see in golf-focused travelers?
A: The average size of a golf group to Hawaii is 20 people, so 10 rooms or so, and they tend to go year-round. The peak months are probably March through August. We see interest from all age brackets, including a number of female golfers.
Q: What's on tap for Pleasant Holidays' 2019 golf offerings?
A: In 2019, we'll be offering a golf package with the Grand Wailea with exclusive rates. We'll also be offering packages with the Sheraton Kona Resort, Moana Surfrider and Royal Hawaiian.