Boasting more miles of accessible beach than any of the state’s other islands, in addition to water-filled jungles and the largest dormant volcano in the world at Haleakala, it’s no surprise that Maui is, perhaps, the most popular destination for Hawaiian vacationers. With an endless menu of activities from snorkeling to whale watching, paddle-boarding, helicopter tours, surf lessons and more, the “Valley Isle” also sets the stage for a world-class variety of golf courses designed by some of the world’s elite architects.
Feature Photo: Courtesy of Hualalai Golf Course
Kaanapali Golf Courses
Once known as sacred lands to the Royal Chiefs of Maui, Kaanapali is home to 36 holes of golf. Hugging the shoreline before winding its way to the West Maui Mountain foothills, the Royal Course (6,700 yards) opened in 1962 and is one of only two courses (Mauna Kea) in Hawaii designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. The Kai Course (6,388 yards), plays more forgiving with subtle, undulating greens that in 2008, hosted 12 ladies on Golf Channel’s Big Break Kaanapali.
At the foothill of the West Maui Mountains in Waikapu with bi-coastal views of Mt. Haleakala and the Pacific Ocean, Kahili Golf Course (1991) is a quick 10 minutes from Kahului Airport. Designed by Robin Nelson and Rodney Wright, the 6554-yard test serves up strong par 5’s and fun par 3’s that will challenge club selection. One of the many course highlights is that there are no homes, condos or hotels lining the fairways.
On Maui’s northwest shore with grand ocean vistas from every hole, the Plantation Course, designed by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore, stretches out across natural geographic formations and pineapple plantation fields. As host for the annual PGA TOUR Sentry Tournament of Champions, its lengthy 7,596 yards challenges pros but the wide fairways and generous greens make it very playable for amateur golfers. The Arnold Palmer and Francis Duane-designed Bay Course (6,600 yards) is highlighted by the only hole (#17) in Maui to play over the ocean.
Maui Nui Golf Club
Benefitting from some of the island’s best year-round weather in Kihei, Maui Nui GC (formerly Silversword), combines fairness and challenge with an inviting opening hole, reachable par 5’s, plus exceptional views of the Pacific Ocean, Mt. Haleakala, Molokini and the West Maui Mountains. Architect Bill Newis designed the 6,801-yard layout with the trade winds in mind, which usually hit the course in the late afternoon. As such, Maui Nui is one of Maui’s fairest tests of golf and rewards those who play the fundamentals well.
The Dunes at Maui Lani
With his ability to see the land for what it was and shape the holes according to what nature provided, minimal earth was moved by architect Robin Nelson to create Maui’s only links-style course and the only course in Hawaii built on natural occurring dune terrain. Located in central Maui, The Dunes plays to 6,841 yards and calls for creativity, finesse, strategy, and good shot-making to capture the full course experience.
Waiehu Municipal Golf Course
WAIEHU BEACH PARK
Sharing the white sand beachfront with Waiehu Beach Park and overlooking the famous Waihee Reef, the Waiehu GC opened in 1945. The first 9 holes are set along the dramatic coastline, while the back 9 holes head toward the mountains. Measuring 6,330 yards, this popular course for locals offers terrific views and challenging play for golfers at every skill level. Well-groomed fairways and greens keep Waiehu Municipal GC difficult, yet friendly.
Wailea Golf Club
Three meticulously designed courses with awe-inspiring views of Mt. Haleakala and the Pacific Ocean offers more golf than at any other resort destination in Hawaii. The Gold (7,070 yards), designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr., is the most challenging of the trio but 4 to 6 tee boxes on every hole make it playable for all skill levels. Wailea’s original layout, Blue (6,545 yards) is a classic island resort course designed by Arthur Jack Snyder. The eye-candy Emerald (6,825 yards) with bright bougainvillea, fragrant plumeria, green fairways, blue ocean backdrops has been honored for its women- and couples-friendly features.