SAY ‘ALOHA’ TO hawaii
Sarah Stirk picks her favourite tracks in America’s 50th state –
the beautiful islands of Hawaii, which are a regular pit stop for the PGA Tour
Apart from broken resolutions, the start of January – at least as far the PGA Tour is concerned – is all about Hawaii, and quite frankly it should be for every golfer on the planet.
Watching the tour pros shake off their winter rust at the Tournament of Champions and the Sony Open, against the backdrop of blue skies and turquoise waters, is enough to make everything seem right with the world – either that or cause you to enter a deep state of envy.
With verdant fairways beneath your feet, palm trees swaying in the breeze, and the glistening Pacific Ocean in plain sight from almost every tee and green, it’s easy to see why Hawaii is the golf resort capital of the world.
America’s 50th state is divided into six islands, with Hawaii Island, known as the big island, being just a 30-minute flight from Honolulu, and boasting many of the best courses in Hawaii, designed by some of the greatest names in golf. Here is my pick of the huge variety of holiday golfing options that are available.
BLUE COURSE AT WAILEA, MAUI
The flagship of the three courses at Wailea Golf Club on Maui, the Blue layout is a classic Arthur Jack Snyder design built in 1972. The course sits at the foot of Mount Haleakala, a dormant volcano that dominates the skyline.
This scenic Hawaiian resort-style course features both Pacific Ocean and volcano views and plays 6,545 yards from the championship tees, although each hole has three tee boxes making it accessible for all standards.
The Blue course is close enough to the water that whale spotting, especially from the 12th tee, is a popular pastime in between finding the fairways.
Green Fees: $145-$175, waileagolf.com
TURTLE BAY RESORT, OAHU
There are two great courses here, and the Arnold Palmer layout gives you a taste of Scotland and a splash of jungle, all wrapped into one beautiful Hawaiian beachfront delight.
Only 45 minutes from Honolulu, the resort immerses guests in the natural beauty of Oahu, and ocean views are standard in every one of the resort’s rooms.
The signature hole is the 17th; it has nine bunkers leading up to a green that sits on a plateau 100 feet from the ocean.
The only George Fazio-designed golf course in Hawaii, the Fazio Course at Turtle Bay Resort is popular with visitors and pros alike. The course features lengthy fairways, deep bunkers, and sculpted greens, and is also the popular home of the LPGA Tour’s Hawaiian Open. The practice facilities are second to none here, and with two fabulous courses, it’s a destination worthy of high praise.
Green Fees: Palmer: $120-$195, Fazio: $85-$120, turtlebayresort.com
HAPUNA, ISLAND OF HAWAII
Hapuna Golf Course stretches along the beautiful Kohala coastline before rising to over 700 feet above sea level. The snow-topped Mauna Kea volcano serves as a dramatic backdrop and there are seemingly endless views of the Pacific.
Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay collaborated to create a visually stunning links course that utilises the natural contours of the landscape and silky fescue grasses. The design team has received praise for not only the challenge of the design, but also for how seamlessly it blends into the existing environment.
Green Fees: $99-$139, hapunabeachresort.com
For visitors to the West Maui Mountains, Kahili is a must-play layout, a picturesque course with views of the Pacific Ocean. The 6,554-yard, par-72 course is a challenge, with severe elevation changes, visually dramatic par threes and long, testing par fives.
Kahili is positioned on the slopes of the West Maui Mountains, offering picturesque views of the regal Haleakala and the Pacific Ocean.
Green Fees: $99-$129, kahiligolf.com
MAUNA KEA, ISLAND OF HAWAII
With Mauna Kea Golf Course, Robert Trent Jones Sr. transformed what was seemingly a barren lava field into what is now one of Hawaii’s most popular courses.
The challenging layout features holes that run right along the coast, carved into the seaside cliffs and offering panoramic views of the beautiful Kohala Coast. The elevated, undulating greens and prevailing coastal winds demand accuracy.
Mauna Kea’s signature third hole is as scary as it is beautiful. This legendary par three requires a dramatic carry across a rocky shoreline; don’t lose your ball where thousands of others before you have.
Those looking to stay and play should check into the five-star Westin Hapuna Beach Hotel, which has recently undergone a $46 million upgrade to all its bedrooms, as well as a new spa, restaurants and bars, and re-opens next month.
Green Fees: $140-$195, maunakeabeachhotel.com
THE OCEAN COURSE AT HOKUALA, KAUAI
The Ocean Course was formerly the 27-hole Kauai Lagoons course, but the Jack Nicklaus Signature design received a major update in 2015 and now features a challenging stretch of holes known as Amen Corner. The resort’s aptly chosen new name, Hokuala, is Hawaiian for ‘rising star.’
Known for having the longest stretch of continuous oceanfront holes in all of Hawaii, the Ocean Course meanders through forests of mango and guava trees, and then skirts along the Pacific. Located on the southeastern coast of Kauai, the course is conveniently situated near Lihue Airport and next to Nawiliwili Harbour.
Green Fees: $126-$198,
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