Image credit: Ankarino at Flickr.com Creative Commons.
Golf on Kauai
Kauai is a great choice of destination for golf lovers who want to experience playing a few rounds of golf on a tropical island. The more exclusive golf courses can be quite expensive, but it is possible to hit some balls here for as little as $1 a hole.
Some of the Best Golf Courses on Kauai Include:
Poi Bay Golf Course
2250 Ainako Street, Koloa, HI 96756
Yelp Rating: 4.5 stars (based on 16 reviews)
Phone: (808) 742-8711 or toll free (800) 858-6300
18-Holes: Par 72
Poipu Bay Golf Course served as the home of the PGA Grand Slam between 1994 and 2006. This beautiful venue offers some fabulous views, and it is what golfing in Hawaii should be all about. Every hole is designed to be unique on this course, so each one of them challenges you in a slightly different way. Robert Trent Jones Junior – one of the most admired golf architects in the world, designed Poipu Bay – so playing here really can be an unforgettable experience. The course covers 210 acres and it hugs the ocean – if you are lucky, you might get to spot some humpback whales off in the distance.
The clubhouse at Poipu Bay Golf is almost as impressive as the course. It covers an area of 21,000 square feet, and it includes a pro shop (one of the best stocked in the US), restaurant, locker area, and lounge. The Bay Grill and Bar has an open-air venue, and this can be a nice place to spend a few hours after you have completed a round. This restaurant also provides an excellent view of the golf course, so it can be a nice place for family to wait while you play.
The standard rate for visitors to Poipu Bay Golf Course is $240 for 18-holes – guests of the Grand Hyatt only need to pay $170. If visitors wish to play a twilight game (after 12 p.m.), the price is reduced to $150 – the cost falls even further to $95 after 2 p.m. (there is no guarantee that players will get to complete 18-holes if they go out at this time). The green fees at Poipu Bay include the use of a golf cart with GPS tracking. It is possible to book 30-days in advance, and it is recommended that you do this to avoid disappointment. Clubs can be rented at the course for $85 and shoes can be rented for $15 – anyone who wishes to play here needs to wear proper golfing attire.
Puakea Golf Course
4150 Nuhou Street, Lihue, HI 96766
Yelp Rating: 4 stars (based on 11 reviews)
Phone: (808) 245-8756
18 Holes: Par 72
Puakea Golf Course offers a tropical golfing experience at a fairly reasonable price –it is probably the best option if you are on a tight budget but still want to play somewhere with special ambiance. Each hole is unique, and the front nine offers a significantly different experience than the back nine – one of the nice things about playing here is you almost feel like you are visiting two courses. The ground is hilly for most of the course, and there are some nice views of the ocean. This venue is managed by Billy Casper Golf – the same management team that also takes care of Kukuiolono Park & Golf Course (see below).
The clubhouse offers some decent amenities. The Ho’okipa Café is open from 7 a.m. to around sunset, and it offers a good selection of drinks and snacks – it is open to the public, and it tends to attract a nice crowd. The pro shop is rather small, but it contains all the most important items you might need to buy. There is a grass driving range, putting green, and practice sand bunker. The PGA professionals who work at Puakea are able to provide lessons on request.
It costs $99 to play at Puakea before 11 a.m., $85 after 11 a.m., and $59 after 2 p.m. (prices correct as of late 2013). There are also special packages available where you can get a discount if you book more than three rounds. It costs $45 to rent a set of clubs – the price falls to $25 after 2 p.m.
Kauai Lagoons Golf Club
3351 Hoolaulea Way, Lihue, HI 96766
Yelp Rating: 4 stars (based on 9 reviews)
Phone: (800) 634-6400
18-Holes: Par 71
9-holes: Par 36
There are two main courses to choose from at Kauai Lagoons Golf Club. The 18-hole course offers some of the best views on Kauai – it also has the longest stretch of holes along the coast in the whole of Hawaii. The Waikahe 9-Hole course is inland, and this one is perfect for beginners or those who just want a quick game. The main course (Kiele Course) at Kauai Lagoons was designed by Jack Nicklaus back in the eighties. Kauai Lagoons covers an area of 750 acres at Kalapaki Bay – it is just a few minutes away from Lihue Airport.
The clubhouse at Kauai Lagoons is a great place to go at the end of the game. When you arrive back you can expect to be greeted with ice-cold towels and a warm welcome. The lobby is open-air and the rest of the building manages to combine a modern-feel with a sense of traditional elegance. There are plenty of places both inside and outside the building to kick back after a round of golf and enjoy some refreshments. The pro shop here opens from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and it offers a good range of products including specialty logo wear. There is a driving range and putting green as well as a small free course for children.
Visitors to Kauai Lagoons Golf Club pay $205 to play in the mornings or $135 after twelve o’clock. If you are staying at the Marriott, it costs $150 in the morning and $115 after twelve – there is also a discount for some other up-market hotels on the island. It costs $30 to play the 9-hole if you are prepared to walk or $45 if you need a cart. Players under the age of 17 have to pay $60 on the main course or $15 on the inland nine. The practice areas are free to use and open at 7 a.m. It costs $50 to rent a full set of golf clubs for 18-holes and $10 for golf shoes.
Princeville Prince Golf Course
5-3900 Kuhio Highway, Princeville, HI 96722
Yelp Rating: 4.5 stars (based on 11 reviews)
Phone: (808) 826-5001
18-Holes: Par 72
6-Holes: Par 18
Prince Golf Course is part of Princeville Resort. The main course is 18-holes, but there is also a nice 6-hole course where each one is par-3 – a great choice if you just want to practice or have some fun. The Prince Course had a $5 million facelift in 2012, and it is now definitely one of the most attractive places to play on the island – it is considered to be one of the most beautiful places to play golf in the world. This is not an easy course; so don’t be surprised if you lose a lot of balls.
The clubhouse at Princeville offers a wonderful view of the golf course and the Pacific Ocean. It has been newly decorated and covers an area of 60,000 square feet. The design of this building is a combination of traditional Hawaiian with modern chic. Visitors can pick up some purchases at the well-stocked pro shop, or spend some time at the Tavern at Princeville – this is a great little eatery with a world-class chef.
Prince Golf Course is one of the most expensive places to play on the island with green fees for visitors starting at $200 (prices correct as of late 2013). It costs $45 to play the mini 6-hole course. Guests who are staying at the Princeville Resort get to enjoy a discount – the best deal is a package that includes accommodation and golfing.
Kiahuna Golf Club
2545 Kiahuna Plantation Drive, Koloa, HI 96756
Yelp Rating: 4 stars (based on 8 reviews)
Phone: (808) 742-9595
18-Holes: Par 70
Kiahuna is another golf course on the island that was created by the legendary architect Robert Trent Jones Junior (he also designed the course at Poipu and Princeville). This course is going to appeal most to those players who want to be challenged. The greens are fast and even the best players are going to need to play exceptionally well when the winds are blowing – the second hole is the hardest of all. There are some nice features on the course to admire including; lava tubes, caves, archeological sites, ponds, and a stream.
The highlight of the Clubhouse is Joe’s on the Green. This restaurant opens at 7 a.m., and they offer a great selection of breakfast items. Food is served here right up until 7 p.m., and they have live music in the evenings. The bar is fully stocked with a good selection of wines and cocktails as well as beers. The pro shop sells a good selection of equipment and it stocks all the big-name brands.
It costs $95 to play at Kiahuna in the mornings, and the price falls to $75 after midday. Players under the age of 17 only need to pay $10 so long as a paying adult accompanies them. It costs $32 to rent a set of clubs.
Wailua Golf Course
3-5350 Kuhio Highway, Lihue, HI 96766
Yelp Rating: 3.5 stars (based on 9 reviews)
Phone: (808) 241-6666
18 Holes: Par 72
Wailua is a municipal golf course, so it is a good option if you are just looking for a round of golf without it being anything too fancy. This course once served as a qualifying course for the US Open (back in the thirties), but it has long been overshadowed by the private clubs on the island. The morning times tend to be when all the serious golfers turn up – things are a bit more laid back in the afternoon.
The amenities at Wailua include: a restaurant, small pro shop, shower area, locker rooms, short driving range, putting green, practice bunker, and chipping green. At the moment the restaurant (late 2013) is closed so players need to bring their own food and refreshments if they want something to eat or drink after their game.
It costs $48 for visitors to play here on a weekday or $60 at the weekends. If you are prepared to play during the twilight hours, it is half the daily rate. There is also a special offer available whereby non-residents can purchase five rounds for $215 – these games must be played during the week and within a three-month period. It costs $20 to rent a motorized cart or $7 for a pull-cart. A set of premium golf clubs costs $35 (there is a cheaper set available for $20). If you want to use the driving range, it costs $2 for balls.
Kukuiolono Golf Course
854 Puu Road, Kalaheo, HI 96741
Yelp Rating: 4 stars (based on 14 reviews)
Phone: (808) 332-9151
9 Holes: Par 36
Kukuiolono is another public golf course that another one worth considering if you are on a tight budget. There are only nine holes here, but you can play twice to make up a full game. This is a great course for beginners because the play here never gets too challenging. It’s quite a beautiful place to spend the morning – it was originally an estate but it was later gifted to the people of Hawaii by the owner. This is one of the few courses on the island where you are welcome to play in shorts and a t-shirt.
There facilities at Kukuiolono Golf Course are modest. There is a small restaurant and a place where you can rent equipment. If you are going to rent clubs, you need to have them back by 3 p.m. There is a nice driving range here that offers an excellent view of the ocean.
The greatest thing about Kukuiolono Golf Course is the price. You can play here for as little as $9 – that is $1 per hole. It is also important to keep in mind those visitors who only want to watch you play still need to pay. You can rent clubs and a golf cart for about $20 here.
Makai Golf Course
4080 Lei O Papa Road, Princeville, HI 96722
Yelp Rating: 5 stars (based on 2 reviews)
Phone: (808) 826-1912
19 Holes: Par 72
Makai was redesigned back in 2009, and it is another course on the island that comes from the imagination of Robert Trent Jones Jr. It is part of the Princeville Resort who also has Prince Golf Course (see above). As well as the 18-hole course, there is also the 9-Hole Woods Course that is perfect for beginners. Makai is one of the best places on Kauai to go if you are looking for instruction as they have regular clinics and two large practice areas – there are also plenty of pros around to offer instruction on how to improve your swing.
The clubhouse at Makai is newly built, and it is a nice place to spend some time after a game. The Makai Grill is open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., and they offer a good selection of snacks and beverages. It is also possible to hire the clubhouse for special events like weddings.
The standard green fee for the 18-hole course at the Makai is $225 making it the most expensive course on the island – this price falls to $149 after 12 p.m. If you intend to play a few rounds at this course during your trip, you can purchase the Makai Golf Pass for $435 – this allows you to play three games. The Woods Course costs $55 for 9-holes.
[Image credit: Ankarino at Flickr.com]