Kaua'i Golf Travel
Golf in a Land Called Hanalei
By Brian Weis
The scenery on Kaua'i seems impossible. The verdant rainforests display various shades of green that complement the endless expanse of blue ocean that laps at the 50 miles of white-sand beaches. Some of these pristine swaths of sand provide contrast with the sheer chocolate cliffs that soar skyward. The oldest and most northerly of the Hawaiian Islands has been filling tourists' scrapbooks with photos of its countless vistas for decades.
On a visit to any Hawaiian island, visitors will hear the word "aloha" spoken many times. Below is the A-L-O-H-A of golf on Kaua'i.
A - Area Courses
The Na Pali Coast on the north shore of Kaua'i serves up some of the most stunning scenery in the world. Before or after trying to comprehend the beauty while on a tour of the coast, travelers will likely luxuriate on the famous crescent-shaped array of sand and sea known as Hanalei Bay.
Princeville Makai (mah-kigh) Golf Club sits atop the North Shore bluffs and overlooks the bay. In 2010, Robert Trent Jones Jr. redesigned the three sets of nine holes that he originally built in the 1970s. The multi-million dollar renovation on the property of The St. Regis Princeville Resort combined the Ocean and Lakes nines into a championship-caliber course that currently is ranked by "Golf Digest" as one of "America's 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses" and by "GOLF Magazine" as one of the top 5 public courses in Hawai'i.
In the Hawaiian language, "makai" means "towards the ocean," and this course is true to its name. Each nine begins inland then flows toward the Pacific. The course features five holes that skirt the ocean and offer breathtaking views of Hanalei Bay and Bali Hai.
Golfers in a hurry can choose to play a three-hole sampler package or to take a Sunset Golf Car Tour. The latter, a self-guided tour, allows participants to take in five stunning vistas, including Anini Reef, Hanalei Bay, Queens Bath Tide Pool and Makai's signature hole, the 7th. Upon seeing this incredibly scenic, challenging par 3 that requires a shot across an ocean-filled chasm, golfers will likely race back to the pro shop to book a tee time.
On the South Shore, golfers can tee it up on a course that saw Tiger Woods add seven titles to his impressive total and where Phil Mickelson scorched the course by shooting a magical 59.
Poipu (poy-poo) Bay Golf Course, which hosted the PGA Grand Slam of Golf from 1994 to 2006, delivers plenty of impressive scenery, especially the 15th and 16th holes, as well as providing a nice mix of challenges. As impressive as the course is, the service is just as good.
In Lihue, the Kiele Course at Kaua'i Lagoons Golf Club delivers two wonderfully different nines, both designed by the incomparable Jack Nicklaus, who also ranks highly among course designers. The nine holes on the Kiele Mauka (inland) course maneuver gracefully through a dense rain forest that gives way to memorable scenic views. Though golfers may find it difficult to choose a favorite hole, Nicklaus himself dubbed the par-3 5th "one of the best holes anywhere." After using a long iron or more from the back tees to reach the elevated green perched above a valley of mango and guava trees, golfers lucky enough to play this course will likely agree with Jack.
The Kiele Moana (ocean) nine dances along the bluffs that overlook the ocean. By the time golfers reach the par-4 13th hole, they will already be amazed and perhaps humbled by the burly course. But when they then play the more than half a mile of continuous ocean holes - the longest stretch in Hawai'i - and conclude the cliff-hanging dance by taking a crack at the drivable par-4 16th that overlooks Nawiliwili Harbor, they just might be floating on air.
The wonders of Puakea (poo-ah-kay-ah) Golf Course will come as a complete surprise to golfers who pull into the course's parking lot and feel underwhelmed by the views of the nearby strip malls. Once they complete the first hole and transition into the lush rainforest, however, golfers will understand how this course earned Hawai'i's "Best New Course" distinction by TravelGolf.com and was named the fourth best course in the state by "Hawai'i Magazine."
The deep ravines that players must negotiate will make their rounds here memorable, as will the views of majestic Mount Haupu, which served as the backdrop to the original "Jurassic Park" movie. Neither of these features, however, is likely to stick with golfers the way the par-3 6th hole will. Golf balls can only reach the oblong green protected in front by a daunting reservoir after they fall 10 stories from the tee. Some golfers would rather face a charging Triceratops than this intimidating tee shot.
Travelers who tote their clubs to the far-off reaches of Kaua'i to play high-end courses crafted by renowned designers could easily look past Wailua (why-loo-ah) Golf Course, a muni built in the 1930s. Doing so, however, would be a mistake.
Designed by Hawai'i Golf Hall of Famer Toyo Shirai, Wailua has hosted three USGA Amateur Public Links Championships, a distinction earned by the quality of the course. This track, which combines ocean views with inland parkland holes, is regarded as one of the most beautiful municipal courses in America, and it indisputably provides one of the best values in the state. The photo op on the par-3 17th hole, replete with a Pacific Ocean backdrop, rivals any of the views on the more upscale resort courses.
L - Language and Lingo
Though travelers do not need to take a Rosetta Stone course to travel to Kaua'i - since it is, after all, in the United States - if they learn the words below they will ingratiate themselves with locals and be far more comfortable during their visits.
Aloha (a-lo-ha) - It means both hello and goodbye and should always be said with a smile. This is the Hawaiian word that travelers will hear - and should use - most frequently.
Mahalo (ma-ha-lo) - It means "thank you" and should be said often, especially if travelers have forgotten to say aloha.
Mai Tai (my-ty) - Containing rum, lime, orange Curacao and juices, this is the most popular alcoholic drink, for both locals and tourists. A perfect spot to try this Hawaiian classic is Kalapaki Grill at Kaua'i Marriott Resort on Kalapaki Beach, steps away from the ocean.
O - Ono (the Hawaiian word for Delicious)
Foodies on Kaua'i should likely learn the word "ono," since the fresh-from-the-sea daily catches served at nearly every restaurant on the island are truly delicious/ono.
Diners at Makana Terrace at The St. Regis Princeville Resort don't need to know that the group Peter, Paul and Mary's "Puff the Magic Dragon" was inspired by the incredible view of Hanalei Bay. After travelers eat ahi tuna and sushi rolls, then drink a couple Aloha Marys (Makana Terrace's version of a Bloody Mary), they may, however, be more inclined to see the magical serpent outlined in nearby Makana Mountaini.
The award-winning Beach House Restaurant in Poipu serves an innovative Pacific Rim menu with a side of breathtaking ocean views. Diners can watch surfers and admire the sunset while enjoying dishes such as crispy Panko-crusted calamari and Thai-inspired snow crab cakes.
H - Hot Spots
In addition to golf, Kaua'i offers endless outdoor activities, from an array of water sports to zip-lining and hiking. The Kalalau Trail along the Na Pali Coast will satisfy travelers who prefer terra firma, and surfing at Poipu Beach and swimming at Wailua Falls are options for tourists with aquatic inclinations. Of course, watching the sun set at Hanalei Beach is a perfect romantic option.
Anara Spa at the Grand Hyatt Kaua'i Resort & Spa will relieve the aches and pains inflicted on golfers during their rounds. Conversely, a treatment gifted to a spouse is the perfect "get-out-of-jail-free card" that will allow the giver to squeeze in another 18. Kaua'i's largest spa, Anara offers a full range of treatments, massages and salon services.
A - Accommodations
Located in the 9,000-acre resort community of Princeville at Hanalei, The St. Regis Princeville Resort provides residents and visitors all the amenities you would expect from a St. Regis.
Guests reside in tropical sophistication, surrounded by interiors reflecting the island's rich abundance, cuisine that celebrates local flavors and an array of activities as diverse as the island itself. The views will take your breath away as you gaze at the towering cliffs seen in the 1957 movie classic "South Pacific."
On the South Shore, the sprawling Grand Hyatt Kaua'i Resort & Spa features a water playground with river pool, waterfalls, a saltwater lagoon, tennis and the aforementioned Poipu Bay Golf Course and Anara Spa. The resort offers an eclectic choice of eight dining spots, including Tidepools and Stevenson's Library, the island's unique spot for sushi, spirits, aged whiskies, cognacs and live nightly entertainment.
Home of the largest single-level swimming pool in Hawaii, the Kauai Marriott Resort on Kalapaki Beach sits on 800 beachfront acres and is renowned for five open-air restaurants and stunning oceanfront dining options.
When To Go?
Year-round the weather in Kauai is consistently hot and humid with temperatures ranging between 70°F to 85°F. Peak season starts in December and extends through March. The shoulder seasons April-June or September-November are the best time to travel to the island .
More information at www.golfkauaihawaii.com - ALOHA!
Revised: 08/26/2015 - Article Viewed 19,570 Times
Written By: Brian Weis
Brian Weis is the Publisher of GolfTrips.com, a network of golf travel and directory sites including GolfWisconsin.com, GolfMichigan.com, ArizonaGolfer.com, GolfAlabama.com, etc. Professionally, Brian is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America (GWAA), International Network of Golf (ING), Golf Travel Writers of America (GTWA), International Golf Travel Writers Association (IGTWA) and The Society of Hickory Golfers (SoHG). In 2016, Brian won The Shaheen Cup, an award given to a golf travel writer by his peers.
All of his life, Brian has been around the game of golf. As a youngster, Brian competed at all levels in junior and high school golf. Brian had a zero chance for a college golf scholarship, so he worked on the grounds crew at West Bend Country Club to pay for his University of Wisconsin education. In his adult years, his passion for the game collided with his entrepreneurial spirit and in 2004 launched GolfWisconsin.com. In 2007, the idea for a network of local golf directory sites formed and GolfTrips.com was born. Today, the network consists of a site in all 50 states supported by national sites like GolfTrips.com, GolfGuide.com and GolfPackages.com. It is an understatement to say, Brian is passionate about promoting golf and golf travel on a local, regional, national and international level.
On the golf course, Brian is known as a fierce weekend warrior that fluctuates between a 5-9 handicap. With a soft fade, known as "The Weis Slice", and booming 300+ drives, he can blast it out of bounds with the best of them.
Contact Brian Weis:
GolfTrips.com - Publisher and Golf Traveler