The beautiful state of Hawaii, located entirely outside of the contiguous 48 states of America, is made up of over 100 islands of various sizes and home to almost 1.5 million people. It is also a golf paradise well known to any golfer with half a heart beat. The state of Hawaii, with its palm trees, many volcanoes, and tropical feel is home to some of the most striking golf courses not only in American, but in the entire world.
Every year, thousands of golfers (professionals included as the PGA Tour has a couple of annual tournaments in Hawaii) flock to this tropical paradise for some of the most memorable golf they will ever hope to play.
To tantalize you with reasons why you need to go to Hawaii, here are five Hawaii golf courses you need to play.
Kapalua Golf Course—Plantation (Best Public Course)
Located on the island of Maui, Kapalua Golf Course has been ranked the best golf course in Hawaii thirteen years in a row and is showing no signs of slowing down. The Plantation course is home to the annual PGA TOUR’s Sentry Tournament of Champions that kicks off the tour’s campaign every year. Kapalua’s other track—The Bay Course—is no slouch either, having hosted over 20 PGA tournaments over the years.
As you might guess, the Plantation Course at Kapalua features breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean and large mountains and volcanoes looming in the distance. Steep elevation changes also make play interesting, and the down hill 18th hole all but guarantees you are going to hit the longest drive of your life.
While the course is challenging enough for the pros, its generous, rolling fairways, and massive, sloping greens, are also forgiving enough for mere mortals. The course is meticulously manicured and conditions are always immaculate.
Another distinguishing feature of the Plantation course is its length. At over 7500 yards from the tips, it is one of the longer courses you will see. It is also unique in that it is one of the few par 73 golf courses in the world.
A course of this pedigree isn’t played for free. During the week a round of 18 walking typically costs in the $175-$200 range and Friday-Sunday climbs to well over $300.
Mauna Kea Golf Course (Most Scenic Course)
As is often the case, the state’s top overall course could also be considered its most scenic and most challenging. That is certainly the case with Kapalua and the Plantation Course. Still, another scenic course, and one that would be the most scenic in probably 45 other states, is Mauna Kea Golf Course. This spectacular 18 hole championship track is home to some of the most pristine golf you can find.
The course showcases the unique Hawaiian landscape by incorporating cliffs and majestic ocean views throughout. The 200 yard plus par three 3rd is Mauna’s signature hole and boasts an unforgettable tee shot over the ocean to a peninsular green surrounded by water, rocks, and sand.
From the tips the course measures around 7300 yards and is a regulation par 72. It isn’t an overly easy course either with a rating of 76.1 and a slope of 144.
If you are a guest at the adjoining resort you can play Mauna for $250 during the early part of the day and $185 if you start at 1 pm or later. For non guests the price is even higher. An early round is $295 and dips to $200 after 1 pm.
Manele Golf Course (Best Private Course Open to Resort Guests Only)
Manele Golf Course, on the Hawaiian Island of Lanai, is not exactly a private course, but it isn’t exactly open to everyone either. In order to be able to play this sensational track you have to be a resort at the Fourseasons Resort the course calls home. Unless you live in Lanai you will have to stay somewhere when visiting Hawaii, so why not the Fourseasons where you can play an incredible round of golf at one of the best courses in the state.
Manele golf course showcases the best of Hawaiian golf with gorges, ravines, cliff-side greens, and mesmerizing views of the Pacific. In addition to all that, the layout of this Jack Nicklaus-designed course is nothing short of brilliant and makes great use of the native palms and many bunkers that dot the course’s fairways.
From the blacks, the course measures 7039 yards long and is a regulation par 72.
As the course is only open to resort guests, you’ll need to check for prices as you make your reservations.
Princeville Makai Golf Club (Most Challenging Course)
Set in the dazzling environs of Kauai Island, Princeville Makai Golf Club is one of the most demanding courses in the state. The course is neatly placed on the edge of the ocean and fairways tumble as if suddenly, into the sea.
Serving as an idyllic backdrop, volcanic mountains overlook as you play this difficult track. On the 7th hole, a challenging tee shot over a seaside cliff requires accuracy as you attempt to land on a green surrounded by an army of bunkers.
Makai measures 7200 yards from the tips and is a regulation par 72. The course has a rating of 75.4 and a slope of 134.
For non guests a round of 18 at Makai costs $305 (cart included) but for guests of the resort a round can be played for $245.
Turtle Bay Golf Course (Best Deal)
You may have noticed that the courses in Hawaii can be expensive. Unless you are a resident of Hawaii or plan to play at some of the average nine hole courses found on the islands, expect to pay dearly. But if you’ve already shelled out the money for airfare and hotel, you might as well spring for a great round at an amazing course.
The Arnold Palmer-designed Turtle Bay Golf Course is a championship level course that you can play for a more reasonable price than comparable courses. Replete with the requisite ocean views and stunning layout Hawaiian courses are known for, this 7200 yard track is a regulation par 72.
You can play Turtle Bay for as low as $89 after 1 pm.
Book your tickets, pack your bags, and don’t forget your clubs. Every day is the perfect time to go to Hawaii and enjoy some of the best golf in the world. You’ll find some of the most breathtaking courses imaginable and will undoubtedly have an incredible time. Happy golfing.
Did we miss a course? Share your Hawaii golf experience in the comments section below.