Hawaiian Golf - Views of Fairways in Paradise

By Jeffrey A. Rendall; Photos By Jeffrey A. Rendall


MAUI/LANAI, HAWAII – From the east coast of the United States, it’s about eleven hours by plane (with a stop somewhere along the way).


It takes a day to get there -- losing six hours in the process -- and all of a day (and then some) to get back.  Once you arrive there, gas prices are almost a dollar more a gallon than from where you left, and nearly everything else comes at a premium mark-up as well.  Take your purse strings along with your flip-flops, and if there’s ever a place to ‘don’t leave home without it’ (the American Express Card, and all your other credit cards), Hawaii’s the place.


But it’s all worth it.


We’re speaking of our 50th State, Hawaii – more specifically, its second biggest island, Maui, and Maui’s lightly populated neighbor island, Lanai.  The Hawaiian Islands are halfway around the world from us, and it’s a logistical pain to get to them.  It’s like flying to the west coast -- twice.  No wonder many easterners choose the shorter route to the Caribbean or Bermuda to take their holidays.


That being said, anyone who hasn’t been to Hawaii should go -- if not for the spectacular scenery and the beautiful beaches (and history at Pearl Harbor), then certainly for Hawaii’s resort golf.  Here in the east, we’ve got thousands of miles of coastline, and the golf product at places like Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head is well worth the journey in its own way.


But it’s completely different on Maui’s (and Lanai’s) coasts.  The water’s a deep blue, there’s enough elevation to provide you some unbelievable scenery, and on clear days (which is virtually all the time), you’ll be able to see the neighboring islands.  Now that’s a view!


We’ve been to Hawaii three times, but our recent trip was the first where we actually took the sticks along – and a few extra minutes of packing is certainly worth it as well.  Like everything else, golf prices in Hawaii will match the mainland’s priciest, but for the experience provided, it’s okay to extend the second mortgage line for several hours of fun.


We’ll treat each course with a separate review, but here we’ll provide some glimpses into what we saw:

The Challenge at Manele Bay (Lanai)'s par three 12th requires a carry over the ocean. It's a long way down (150 feet) -- and a snorkling paradise for ball retrieving enthusiasts.

Looking back from the 9th green at Kaanapali's Tournament North Course. This Robert Trent Jones designed layout is one of only two Jones Sr. courses in Hawaii -- and offers some pretty manageable resort golf. The views aren't bad either.

Looking at Wailea Gold's 216-yard, par three 8th hole. The Robert Trent Jones Jr. designed Gold Course is home to the Senior Skins Game. Both challenging and beautiful, you can see why Arnie and Jack enjoy coming here every year.

Lanai's Experience at Koele is a Greg Norman signature design (with Ted Robinson helping out) that's a stark contrast to the Challenge at Manele Bay. Koele is in the mountains -- truly a unique experience in Hawaii. It felt not unlike being in the mountains of Virginia -- except for the long-range ocean views, of course.

Robert Trent Jones Jr. designed one heck of a challenging golf course at Makena Resort's North Course. A bit higher than its neighbor Wailea Resort, Makena features some of the most spectacular ocean glimpses on your trip to Hawaii. Here, the par three 7th hole.

Quite possibly the most beautiful course you've never heard of, the Challenge at Manele Bay is a Nicklaus signature course on the Island of Lanai. It's not the easiest place to get to, but golfing paradise awaits when you arrive.

Runway tees and big, sloping greens. Robert Trent Jones at his best. Here, the par four 14th hole at Kaanapali's Tournament North Course.

It was a bit cloudy the day we played there, but it hardly dulls the scenic quality of Wailea Gold's 18th hole.

The Experience at Koele's 17th hole drops 200 feet from tee to green. Lanai's lush forest is all around you, and the golf hole is one you'll never forget.

Here's the corner of the dogleg on Makena North's 13th hole. It looks like the green leads right down to the ocean.


For more information and rates for the Hawaiian courses we visited:


The Challenge at Manele Bay and The Experience at Koele on the Island of Lanai:




Wailea Golf Club’s Gold Course (Maui):




Makena Golf Courses – North Course (Maui):




Kaanapali Golf Courses – North Tournament Course (Maui):




Note:  Wailea, Makena and Kaanapali have additional courses that we did not see on this trip, but appear to be equally attractive as the ones we played.

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