If you're the type of traveler who packs your golf clubs along with your swimsuit, then you need to examine the Top 10 Golf Courses in Hawaii. These picturesque play areas offer stunning vistas of cliffs jutting out over the Pacific, lush greenery, dramatic volcanic rock formations and challenging holes that you'll remember for years to come. Whether you're a duffer or a champion, enjoy the Top 10 Golf Courses in Hawaii, courtesy of GAYOT.com.
Club at Hokulia
On the stunning Kona Coast near the beach town of Kailua Kona sits the Club at Hokulia. Opened in 2002, the exclusive Hokulia is the only private oceanside golf club on the Big Island. The Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course spans three miles and 1,550 acres of prime Hawaii real estate with panoramic ocean views. Nicklaus designed the par 72 course to be challenging, featuring frequent hazards and difficult greens. But despite the expertise needed to conquer the course, you can bask in the balmy ocean breeze, enjoy the scenery and relax as you consider club choices. The weather is superb year-round, with no strong winds and temperatures hovering in the 70s and 80s.
Hualalai Golf Course
The Hualalai Resort is home to two courses, but the Nicklaus Signature Design is the one you want. The eighteen-hole course, which hosts the annual Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai, was the first on the island to be designed by golf legend Jack Nicklaus. Signature hole 17 will remind you of why you picked up golf in first place, and a nighttime round of glow-in-the dark "scramble" will bring out the kid in you. The 7,100-yard course offers three pupu and drinks stations to ensure a lively game. Wrap up with Hawaiian favorites like Huli Huli chicken at Hualalai Grille, located above the eighteenth green and boasting breathtaking views of the course and ocean. Hualalai is open to players staying at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Historic Kaupulehu, as well as club members and their guests.
Mauna Kea Golf Course
If you want a classic take on Hawaiian paradise, book your tee time at the Mauna Kea course at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel on the Kohala Coast. Designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr., Mauna Kea Golf Course opened in 1964 and was christened by the "Big Three," Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player. Nearly five decades later, it remains the golden standard by which other island courses are judged. The course was renovated in 2008 by Jones' son Rees who oversaw the planting of highly efficient TifEagle and 419 Bermuda grasses, as well as the additions of state-of-the-art irrigation and drainage systems. The challenging par 72 course spans 7,370 yards with elevation ranges from zero to 300 feet above sea-level. After making your birdie on the eighteenth hole, the attentive staff will clean your clubs and offer you a cold mango-scented towel. Don't forget to drop by the Number 3 restaurant for piping hot popovers and a cool and creamy Lava Flow to end your day.
North Course at Mauna Lani Resort
Located on the Kohala Coast of the Big Island, the North Course at the Mauna Lani Resort is truly a one-of-a-kind experience. Built on a lava bed, the sprawling 6,913-yard course offers a unique setting to tee off in. The rolling terrain, dotted with mesquite forests and herds of wild goats, is breathtaking. Opened in 1981, the par 72 course distinguishes itself from its sister South Course by its location further inland and its calmer winds. The unique seventeenth hole is a charming par 3 encased in a lava coliseum. After eighteen holes, relax with an après-golf snack of guacamole or fish tacos at Huli Sue's.
Poipu Bay Golf Course
A Robert Trent Jones Jr. design, the Poipu Bay course hosted the PGA Grand Slam of Golf from 1994-2006. Its 210 acres feature 85 bunkers, five water hazards and a sweeping backdrop of grassy mountains and scattered temple ruins. Poipu Bay's signature sixteenth hole is the longest par 4 on the course and one of the longest in the state, packed with obstacles like a small lake, multiple bunkers and an ancient rock wall. The elite club offers an on-course beverage cart service and cold citrus-scented towels. Players can get instantly acquainted with each hole as Poipu Bay's golf carts come equipped with hands-free GPS maps detailing the entire course. The resort also offers daily clinics offered by professionals and hosts group tournaments so you can take on other players at the course. After working up a sweat, head over to the Poipu Bay Grill & Bar looking onto the eighteenth hole.
Prince Golf Course at Princeville
If you're up to the challenge, the Prince Golf Course at The St. Regis Princeville Resort will test your talent. The recently renovated par 72 course, named after the Hawaiian Prince Albert Kamehameha, was designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. with five sets of golf tees for various levels of ability. The black tees are the most difficult and reserved for players with a handicap of five or less. Even if you're not yet up to par, you can play the red (novice) tees and soak up the incredible views of the north Kauai mountains. Since this course is set against the ocean on Kauai's green North Shore, the winds can become quite strong, so make sure to plan ahead and bring extra golf balls. Conclude your day at the Princeville Clubhouse and walk downstairs to Roy Yamaguchi's Tavern at Princeville where you can treat yourself to a Mai Tai, some Island poké or a cheeseburger with Katsu bacon.
The Experience at Koele
Set 2,000 feet above sea level, The Experience at Koele lures players with lush landscaping, beautiful ocean, lake and mountain vistas and incredibly varied terrain. The waterfalls, ravines, pine foliage and occasional roaming wildlife accent the impressive holes you'll want to write home about. This traditional, par 72 resort course, sister course to The Challenge at Manele, was designed by Greg Norman in 1991 with architect Ted Robinson's eye for seamlessly integrating the architecture with its impressive natural setting and water elements. The pièce de résistance is signature hole 17, a 250-foot drop from the tee located in a lush gorge. Amenities such as a pro shop, putting green, club rental, driving range and instruction are par for the course at this unforgettable island experience.
The Challenge at Manele
If you played The Experience at Koele and breezed through its eighteen holes, walk next door to The Challenge at Manele, its sister course also situated at the Four Seasons Lanai. Set dramatically above Hulopoe Bay, The Challenge has two holes built on cliffs where you must pitch the ball over the ocean to get to the green. The par 72 course was designed by golf legend Jack Nicklaus to be challenging to every level of golfer. If you visit in the winter months, you may be lucky enough to see a pod of whales passing by from the fairway. When tee time is over, stop by chef Nobu Matsuhisa's luxurious new Nobu Lanai for some top sushi.
Gold Course at Wailea Golf Club
The Gold Course at Wailea makes a great first impression with memorable views of the ocean and the Molokini islet. Architect Robert Trent Jones, Jr. worked the land's prehistoric lava rock and the natural rise and fall of the terrain into the design of the course. This "thinking player's course" is the most challenging of Wailea's three courses, but offers four tee boxes at each hole to allow visitors to play at their own pace and skill level. If you need a lesson, visit the outpost of the David Leadbetter Golf Academy. Guests of the resort can also take advantage of various "Stay and Play" packages to get the best bang for their buck. For a post-game meal, head to Mulligan's on the Blue, serving up sophisticated Irish pub fare overlooking Wailea's Blue Course.
The Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort
Tee off like Tiger and enjoy pristine ocean-side turf at the home of the PGA Tour's Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Maui. Set on a 22,000-acre, historic pineapple plantation and flanked by both the Pacific Ocean and the West Maui mountains, the public, par 73 Kapalua Plantation Course offers a stunning setting for a day on the green. Its elevation changes and prevailing winds make this course, designed by famed duo Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, ideal for intermediate golfers. After a day on the fairway, head to The Plantation House restaurant located in the clubhouse. Sit back and enjoy one of their recommended wines and indulge in dishes like fresh island ahi with wasabi potato purée.
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