Home to awe-inspiring courses crafted by
top designers, Hawaii is recognized as one of the world's great
golf destinations. With prestige and competition as motivations,
golf courses in the Islands are beautifully groomed, making them
suitable for hosting pro tournaments; Hawaii is an annual stop for
the PGA and LPGA tours.
Visitors & Convention Bureau is playing to golf's popularity
and the championship circuit with this winter's debut of the Aloha
Swing Season, highlighted by events and media promotions.
restrictions, environmental concerns and high land prices putting
the brakes on the construction of courses, maintaining the current
inventory will remain a high priority at Hawaii's
There are more
than 50 18-hole courses open for public play in the Islands. Most
are part of resort infrastructure, but there are also some
top-notch independent courses worth considering, particularly since
they tend to have lower greens fees than the resort courses. There
are also a number of noteworthy municipal courses, although
visitors have to vie for tee times with residents.
Greens fees at
resort courses range from $175 to $225, with resort discounts,
package options and specials reducing the cost. Most courses offer
afternoon play at a significant discount.
courses include full pro shop services, equipment rental, locker
facilities and on-site restaurants.
In the first of a
two-part breakdown of course options in Hawaii, we highlight the
best courses on Kauai, Lanai and Oahu.
The Garden Isle
boasts two golf courses at Poipu (Poipu Bay and Kiahuna), two at
Kauai Lagoons (Kiele and Mokihana) and 45 holes at Princeville
designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr.
All are winners
for quality of play and course maintenance, as is the oceanside,
18-hole Wailua Municipal Golf Course, consistently ranked one of
the best municipal courses in the U.S. thanks to attentive
maintenance, a beachfront setting and the challenge of narrow
fairways arranged with tall palm trees and flowering plumeria.
Reservations are recommended and accepted one week in advance. The
greens fee is $32 on weekdays, $44 on weekends.
Prince Course actually tops the list, its manicured fairways and
greens atop the low, rolling hills of the Princeville Resort, with
ocean vistas and views of the mountains of Kauai's north
The Prince Course
is a long course with strategically placed trees and bunkers to add
challenge to the undulating lay of the land. Greens fee is
designed the Poipu Bay Resort Golf Course, with cliff-top play on
acreage adjacent to the Grand Hyatt Kauai made challenging by
prevailing winds; the final holes are particularly
Play is on
wide-open fairways with panoramic coastal views, particularly on
the back nine. The greens fee is $185, reduced to $125 after
Jack Nicklaus-designed Kiele Course is made challenging by angled
fairways, water hazards and sand bunkers. The course skirts the
inland lagoon and the coast, with scenic ocean and mountain views
from start to finish.
Greens fee for
Kiele is $195, with the less spectacular Mokihana priced at
signature courses, the ocean- side Challenge at Manele and the
upcountry Experience at Koele, are both distinctive and beautifully
plays into mountains and ravines, making for some very interesting
holes, while the Challenge skirts the ocean, with long holes and
fabulous coastal views.
These are two
great courses for one small island. They both sport something of a
country club feel, as they serve guests at the two Four Seasons
Resorts Lanai properties.
Play is less
crowded than at most resort courses in Hawaii, which serve a
considerably larger pool of guests than does the Four Seasons, with
a room count of just 356.
The price of such
exclusivity? A greens fee of $225.
on Oahu -- including Ko Olina, Makaha and Turtle Bay -- have golf
Arnold Palmer-designed course, which bears his name, on Oahu's
north shore, is about a 75-minute drive from Waikiki. It is the
best of the resort courses for the quality of play, thanks to
immaculate fairways that wind through a coastal lowland marsh.
Turtle Bay's George Fazio Course does not compare.
tournaments, including the lead tourney of the LPGA, are annually
held at Turtle Bay. The greens fee at the Arnold Palmer Course is
$175, reduced to $100 after 2 p.m.
The Makaha Resort
Course also gets raves for quality of setting, with the towering
cliffs of Makaha Valley as a backdrop. Tough greens make the course
challenging. Fairways are generally wide and forgiving. The greens
fee is $169, reduced to $110 after noon.
There are several
independent courses on Oahu, including the Hawaii Kai Course,
designed by William Bell, and the three nine-hole, flatland Hawaii
Prince courses in Ewa, about 45 minutes west of Waikiki.
The best and most
unique of the independents is the Koolau Course in windward
Kaneohe, about a 40-minute car ride east of Waikiki.
Situated at the
base of the towering pali, or cliffs, the Koolau Golf Course was
once extremely difficult. Modifications have made play
designed by Dick Nugent, remains challenging, with narrow fairways
and vegetation to avoid. The setting is Hawaii at its most
magnificent. A greens fee of $135 is reduced to $85 for play
starting after noon. The course has a restaurant and full-service
The Royal Kunia
Course is another good course. A short, fun course, Royal Kunia
offers broad, hillside views of Pearl Harbor and the leeward Oahu
coast. The greens fee is $110 on weekdays and $120 on weekends,
reduced to $55 and $60, respectively, for play after 2 p.m.
on Oahu include the Ala Wai, one of the world's busiest, across the
Ala Wai Canal from Waikiki, where tee times are hard to come
municipal courses include Olomana and Pali. They show the wear and
tear of heavy use.
To contact reporter Allan Seiden, send e-mail to [email protected].
For the first
part in the two-part series on Hawaii's best golf courses, see
"Teeing it up, Part 2: The best golf in the