Best Golf Courses on the Big Island

At more than double the size of all other Hawaiian Islands combined, the Island of Hawaii sets the stage for one of the most unique and rewarding landscapes for golf anywhere in the world. From courses carved through black lava fields along the world-famous sunny Kohala Coast, just north of Kona, with luxury resorts dotting the shoreline to cooler-climate upcountry layouts where you can tee off atop a volcano, the Island of Hawaii is considered the golf capital of the state of Hawaii.

Feature Photo: Courtesy of Hualalai Golf Course
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Photo: Courtesy of Hapuna Golf Course

Hapuna Golf Course


Along the Kohala Coast adjacent the Westin Hapuna Beach Resort, Hapuna GC offers gorgeous Pacific Ocean views from every hole while the majestic Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, and Kohala Mountains form the backdrop. With its dramatic elevation changes beginning at sea level and rising to 700 feet, this Arnold Palmer/Ed Seay links-style design is nestled into the rugged desert terrain above the island’s west shore and stretches to just under 6,900 yards.

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Photo: Courtesy of Hilo Municipal Golf Course

Hilo Municipal Golf Course


Managed by the County of Hawaii Parks and Recreation Division, the Hilo Municipal GC provides stunning views of the Hilo coast and is beautifully maintained. One of the oldest (1951) golf courses in Hawaii, the beautifully maintained 18-hole course exhibits wide fairways and a length of 6,325 yards to keep the course difficult yet friendly enough for all golfers.

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Photo: Courtesy of Hualalai Golf Course

Hualalai Golf Course


This Jack Nicklaus Signature design has been crafted with extreme sensitivity to the lava fields behind the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai. Host to the annual PGA Champions Tour’s Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai, this 7,117-yard course begins in a lush kipuka (oasis) and then flows across brilliant green fairways weaving around the black crusty landscape. On the back nine, the course returns to the ocean where No. 17 treats golfers to a spectacular par 3 playing directly toward the ocean with Maui in the background.

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Photo: Courtesy of Kona Country Club

Kona Country Club


Situated in scenic Keauhou, six miles south of Kona in the historic Keauhou Bay area (birthplace of King Kamehameha III), Kona CC benefits from the Hualalai Mountain to limit winds resulting in pleasant sunny skies with a tropical breeze. Designed by Billy Bell (1966), the 6,657-yard course reopened in 2016 after an extensive renovation. In addition to four holes set against the Pacific shore, look for the blowhole at the No. 13 tee box, where the ocean waves push up through a puka” in the lava rocks.

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Photo: Courtesy of Makalei Golf Club

Makalei Golf Club


Golf enthusiasts will appreciate the indigenous flora and fauna, as well as numerous peacocks, pheasants, wild turkeys and other native wildlife at this lush forest alternative to the island’s coastal golf. Located on the upper slopes of Mount Hualalai, a short drive from the Kona International Airport, Makalei GC (7,041 yards) boasts an elevation range from the clubhouse at 1,800 feet to the 9th green at 2,850 feet. The player-friendly prices make it one of the island’s most affordable golf courses.

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Photo: Courtesy of Makani Golf Club

Makani Golf Club


Makani GC is one cool place to be, especially on a hot day due to its 2,500-foot elevation where it’s 10-15 degrees cooler than sea level. Situated on the slopes of the Mauna Kea volcano with panoramic ocean views from most holes, the Perry Dye 18-hole design makes excellent use of the existing terrain of natural rolling hills and lush vegetation and challenges golfers with water on 9 of the 18 holes.

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Photo: Robert Kaufman

Mauna Kea Golf Course


Created in 1964 on what was once a barren black lava field by Robert Trent Jones, Sr., Mauna Kea GC set the standard for resort golf in Hawaii. The 7,370-yard layout challenges golfers with dramatic changes in elevation, large undulating greens, 99 well-placed bunkers, plus distracting panoramic views of the sea and snow-capped Mauna Kea volcano. The unforgettable golf experience is best known for its epic third hole, a par 3 playing over an ocean cove.

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Photo: Robert Kaufman

Mauna Lani Resort Course


Along the Kohala Coast, Mauna Lani treats guests to 45 holes of golf, including the North and South courses, and the WikiWiki 9-hole short course. The South (6,924 yards), home to the Senior Skins Game (1990 – 2000), snakes through the prehistoric Kaniku lava flow and features one of the most photographed over-the-water golf holes (No. 15) in the world. The North (6,913 yards) is characterized by rolling terrain punctuated by kiawe (mesquite) forests and the par 3, 17th tucked into a natural lava amphitheater.

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Photo: Courtesy of Waikoloa Beach Golf Resort

Waikoloa Beach Resort Golf


With 27 holes, Waikoloa presents a unique opportunity for golfers to design their own playing experience on the Kohala Coast. The Beach Nine (3,281 yards) features generous landing areas from the tee boxes and large greens surrounded by low-lipped bunkers to reward the social golfer. The Lakes Nine (3,285 yards) winds through the heart of the resort, taking its name from the bodies of water that come into play on five of the nine holes. At the Scottish links-style Kings’ Nine (3,522 yards) native grasses and pot bunkers add a degree of drama and strategy to shot-making.

Looking for more places golf in Hawaii?

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Robert Kaufman

Robert Kaufman

Robert Kaufman is an internationally published golf & travel writer and award-winning photographer with an observant eye and insightful journalistic style that has guided him around the world, including all 50 states...and playing golf in 24 countries! During his entrepreneurial career, Robert founded Northern California’s first monthly golf publication and was instrumental in directing Visit California’s golf marketing initiative to raise global awareness for the state as a top-tier golf destination. His work can be viewed at Picture PARfect.
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