Maui: the golfer's dream trio. Eight courses with exotic names like Kapalua, Wailea, and Kaanapali, are set like jewels by the sea, on turquoise lagoons, on the slopes of old volcanoes, and in lush rain forests. Best of all: you can play under sunny skies virtually 365 days a year. No season, no downtime.
Nowhere else on earth can you tee off to the sight of whale spouts out there in the largest water hazard, putt under rainbows, or play around a dormant volcano or an ancient heiau (altar or temple). But be forewarned: these courses are trickier than they look. They feature different grasses (from Bermuda to Kukuya, a thick-bladed African species) and hellish natural hazards, such as razor-sharp lava, gusty trade winds, distracting views, an occasional wild pig, and tropical heat. There's only one major geographic disadvantage: that blue ocean between you and the islands poses a time and distance problem.
It's impossible to play all of Maui's courses unless you move here and take up golf full-time (which some do). The only alternative is to choose your preferred courses and catch the next plane to Maui. When you choose where to stay and play, keep in mind that many resort hotels offer package rates for room, car, and golf that provide guests with lower course fees and more readily available tee times. The busiest times are weekends and winter tourist season.
Most courses let you request a tee time a few days in advance.
For a last-minute tee time, try Stand-By Golf (tel. 888/645-2665; www.standbygolf.com), which gives visitors a discount. The company makes a small margin on each booking, you get discounted rates, and course managers are happy to fill in empty time slots. Or, ask your hotel front-desk clerk or concierge to help you. Shorts are acceptable golf attire on Hawaiian courses. Denim is kapu on
some courses; that means no blue jeans. Collared shirts, a necessity to avoid sunburn on the back of your neck, are often required (no T-shirts or tank tops). Soft-spiked shoes are common.
Below are Maui's typical greens fees, based on one 18-hole round, with or without cart. Rates are subject to change:
- Resort courses: $110-$225
- Semiprivate: $20-$135
- Private: $50-$100
- Public: $14-$135
- Municipal courses: $40-$54
The Dunes at Maui Lani
Established: 1999; designed by Robin Nelson.
Location: 1333 Mauilani Parkway, Kahului. (From the Kahului Airport, head toward Lahaina on Dairy Road until you turn right on Kuihelani Highway. The course is 1½ miles off to the right. The entrance is marked by green flags.)
Phone: tel. 808/873-0422
Status: Public; 18 holes, par 72.
Tees: Championship: 6,840 yards. Blue: 6,413 yards. White: 5,833 yards. Red: 4,768 yards.
Fees: $99, includes cart. Twilight rate, $75 after 2pm. Club rentals, $30. Tee times reserved up to 3 months in advance (with possible cancellation fees). Most major credit cards accepted.
Facilities: Driving range, 15-acre practice facility, putting greens, clubhouse,
pro shop, and restaurant.
Comments: Maui's newest and most surprising course is an Irish links-style course incorporating natural sand dunes not on the coast, where Maui has none, but inland, where the sea left them a million or so years ago in a valley. Architect Robin Nelson took advantage of ancient dunes up to 80 feet high to provide drama on several holes. His layout is a true mental challenge. There is a peek of the sea now and then, but it's mostly rolling terrain with a forest of thorny kiawe trees. Instead of the beach, the killer views are of towering Haleakala. The short par-3 third hole is a classic dune hole fashioned after the sixth at Lahinch in Ireland. The course anchors a residential development
Elleair Maui Golf Course (formerly Silversword)
Established: 1987; designed by Bill Newis
Location: 1345 Piilani Highway, Kihei (on the mauka, or uphill, side of
Phone: tel. 808/874-0777
Status: Public; 18 holes, par 71
Tees: Championship: 6,801 yards. Men's: 6,404 yards. Ladies': 6,003 yards
Fees: $120. $95 after noon. Carts included. Club rentals, 40. Tee times reserved 30 days in advance. Visa, MC accepted.
Facilities: Driving range, nighttime lighting, pro shop, and restaurant.
Comments: Morning and late-afternoon trade winds usually hit the course, and many holes bring the winds into play. Views of the sea are afforded from most of the greens on this public course. The signature ninth hole is a long par 4 with a pond on the right side
Kaanapali Golf Course
Established: 1962 (North), 1997 (South); designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr.
Location: Kaanapali Resort, Lahaina. (Take Highway 30 past Lahaina to
Kaanapali Beach Resort. Turn left at the first entrance, then right to the golf course.)
Phone: tel. 808/661-3691.
Status: Resort; 8 holes, par 71 (both courses)
Tees: Men's: North, 6,994 yards. South, 6,555 yards. Ladies': North, 5,417 yards; South, 5,485 yards.
Fees: $235. $190 for resort guests. Includes cart. Special $120 twilight rate
(South course only), noon-2:30pm. Twilight rate on both courses after 2:30pm, $77. Repeat rounds, $49. Club rentals, $45; $29 at twilight. Tee times reserved 2 days in advance. Major credit cards, except Discover, accepted.
Facilities: Driving range, putting green, pro shop, restaurant, and locker room with showers.
Comments: Two excellent 18-hole courses. The 18th on the North course is one of Hawaii's toughest finishing holes, with water hazards lined up on the right side and the kidney-shaped green bordered by two treacherous bunkers on the left. The shorter South course, with more forgiving greens and wider fairways, is the likely preference for less experienced golfers. The North hosts the annual Kaanapali Classic, a Senior PGA Tour event
Kapalua Golf Club
Established: 1975 (Bay Course) and 1991 (Plantation Course); designed by
Bill Crenshaw and Bill Coore.
Location: 300 Kapalua Drive, Kapalua. (Take Highway 30 past Lahaina and Kaanapali to Kapalua Resort, turn left at Kapalua Drive, then right to clubhouse.)
Phone: Bay, tel. 808/669-8820; Village, tel. 808/669-8835; Plantation, tel. 808/669-8877.
Status: Resort. Bay, 18 holes, par 72; Plantation, 18 holes, par 73
Tees: Men's: Bay, 6,600 yards; Plantation, 7,263 yards. Ladies': Bay, 5,124 yards; Plantation, 5,627 yards.
Fees: Bay Course: $215. Plantation Course: $295, twilight $125. Club rentals, $55. Cart rentals, $20. Tee times reserved 4 days in advance. All major credit cards accepted.
Facilities: Driving range, putting green, pro shop, clubhouse, and restaurants
Comments: Surrounded by a pineapple plantation on Maui's northwest coast, Kapalua Resort's 1,500 tidy acres include two of the world's most beautiful and challenging 18-hole courses: the Bay and Plantation courses. These courses provide drop-dead views at every turn. The Bay course's par-3 Hole 5 is one of the world's most dramatic signature holes, requiring a 205-yard-long tee shot over Oneloa Bay. The links-style Plantation course, highly regarded by many pros, is the home of the PGA Tour's Mercedes Championships. No tank tops or
Cut-offs allowed. The Village course is now closed.
Makena Resort Golf Club
Established: 1983 (split into two separate courses in 1994); designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr.
Location: 5415 Makena Alanui, Makena. (From Kahului Airport, take Dairy Road to Piilani Highway, turn right at the end, then left at the stop sign on Wailua Alanui and go south past Wailea. The entrance is on the left.)
Phone: tel. 808/879-3344
Status: Resort; 18 holes, par 72 (South Course closed for renovation until 2009)
Tees: Championship: North, 6,500 yards; Men's: North, 6,100 yards. Ladies': North, 5,300 yards.
Fees: North Course: $135, guest $120; twilight $70, guest $65. Club rentals, $30. Includes cart. Tee times reserved 3 days in advance. Major credit cards, except Discover, accepted.
Facilities: Practice range, putting green, pro shop, and locker room with showers.
Comments: Located by the Maui Prince Hotel. Both courses rate among the state's best, with views of the ocean, Haleakala, Molokai, Lanai, and Kahoolawe. Severe slopes and fast greens make for very challenging play. The lack of strong winds at Makena is a big plus. The South Course's 15th and 16th holes are among Hawaii's most picturesque oceanfront holes. The North Course is generally considered the more difficult of the two.
Kahili Golf Course (formerly Sandalwood)
Established: 1991; designed by Robin Nelson and Rodney Wright.
Location: 2500 Honoapiilani Highway, Wailuku (turn uphill off Highway
30, just south of Wailuku)
Phone: tel. 808/242-4653.
Status: Resort; 18 holes, par 72.
Tees: Championship: 6,433 yards. Men's: 5,918 yards. Ladies': 5,162 yards
Fees: $125. Golf program participants, $100. Includes cart. Twilight rate, $85 after 2pm. Club rentals, $40. Tee times may be reserved in advance over the phone or online. Major credit cards, except Discover, accepted.
Facilities: Driving range, pro shop, banquet facility, locker rooms, clubhouse, putting and chipping greens, and restaurant.
Comments: Robin Nelson and Rodney Wright designed this layout among sandalwood trees at Waikapu, nestled into the side of the West Maui Mountains overlooking Maui's isthmus of green cane fields. Sloping fairways and hefty trade winds can make for a challenging day, along with a lot of elevated greens and par 4s that are long, straight, and into the wind.
Waiehu Golf Course
Established: 9-hole course opened in 1933; back 9 added in 1966; designed by local civil engineers.
Location: Wailuku. (From Highway 340, turn right just past Waihee Park. The entrance is on the right.)
Phone: tel. 808/244-5934.
Status: Municipal; 18 holes, par 72 (par 73 for women)
Tees: Men's: 6,330 yards. Ladies': 5,555 yards
Fees: $38. Cart, $10 per person. Club rentals, $20. Tee times reserved 2 days in advance. Cash.
Facilities: Driving range, putting green, pro shop, clubhouse, and restaurant.
Comments: Maui's only municipal course is off the tourist trail, most affordable, and great fun to play. The front nine are relatively flat; the back nine are hilly in spots. This course features one lake and more than 40 sand bunkers. Three view holes front the ocean. The signature, par-5 Hole 7 plays along the beach.
Wailea Golf Club
Established: 1972 (Blue), 1993 (Gold), 1995 (Emerald); designed by Arthur Jack Snyder, converted by Robert Trent Jones Jr.
Location: 100 Wailea Golf Club Drive, Wailea. (From Kahului Airport, take Dairy Road to Piilani Highway, drive to southern end of the road, and turn right. At the stop sign, turn left on Wailea Alanui. Turn left again and drive uphill to the clubhouse and three courses.)
Phone Gold and Emerald courses, tel. 808/875-7450; Blue course, tel. 808/875-5155.
Status: Resort; 18 holes, par 72 (all 3 courses)
Tees: Championship: Gold, 7,078 yards; Emerald, 6,825 yards; Blue, 6,758 yards. Men's: Gold, 6,653 yards; Emerald, 6,407 yards; Blue, 6,152 yards. Ladies': Gold, 5,442 yards; Emerald, 5,268 yards; Blue, 5,291 yards
Fees: Blue Course: $95; twilight, $70 after 1pm. Gold Course: $225 Emerald Course: $225. Club rentals, $50. Tee times reserved 5 days in advance. All major credit cards accepted.
Facilities: Driving range, putting greens, pro shop, and restaurant.
Comments: Three championship courses distinguish Wailea Resort in South Maui: the newer Gold and Emerald courses, as well as the par-72, 18-hole Blue Course, considered the Grand Lady of Wailea. Golf for Women Magazine recently named the Wailea Golf Club one of the three most women-friendly golf Facilities: in the country. The Gold Course at Wailea gilds the lily on this island already noted for great courses. This Robert Trent Jones Jr. course is a rugged, natural-style 7,070-yard par-72 layout that plays over the foothills of Haleakala. All three courses have breathtaking ocean and mountain views. The Blue Course, with wide, open fairways, is the easiest, but it does have 74 bunkers and four water hazards. The Gold Course has traditionally been host to the nationally televised Senior PGA Tour's Senior Skins game in January. The Emerald Course offers stunning views of Haleakala and the Pacific. Considered a friendlier course for high-handicap players, the course's signature hole is the 18th, a 553-yard par-5 challenge with a downhill slope. Collared shirts are required.
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