Golfing on Molokai and Lanai
There is a sense of exclusivity when you arrive on either of these two islands because you are off the beaten track. You can expect a friendly welcome and the chance to enjoy some amazing scenery while playing golf in this part of the world.
Lanai has two excellent courses – the Challenges at Manele and the Experiences at Koele. You don’t need to stay on the island to play these courses – you can come over on a day-trip and have plenty of time to get a game in. There are a number of tour companies offering special package deals that include ferry over and a round of golf.
There is only one 9-hole course open at the moment on Molokai. If you intend to play here, it is recommended that you bring along your own golf balls and other necessary equipment. There is no pro shop on the island, but you can rent clubs.
The Challenges at Manele
One Manele Bay Road, Lanai City, HI 96763
Yelp Rating: 4.5 stars (based on 13 reviews)
Phone: (808) 565-2000
18 Holes: 72
The Challenges at Manele is part of the Four Seasons resort on Lanai, and it is known as one of the most beautiful courses in the world. It was designed by Jack Nicklaus, and it benefits from a perfect location overlooking Hulopoe’s Bay. Bill Gates was married here on the 12th hole – the couple couldn’t have picked a nicer spot for their nuptials. This is a challenging course with unforgiving fairways. Even golf pros are likely to struggle on the seventeenth hole. You can expect to lose at least a few balls with most of them ending up in the sea, but it is still going to be a worthwhile experience. This is the type of course that everyone should play at least once in their lives. The Challenges at Manele also has a driving range and putting green.
It is worth visiting the Challenges just to spend a bit of time in the clubhouse. This venue is located right beside the cliffs, and this means you get to enjoy a perfect view of the Pacific Ocean. You may even get to see some dolphins. The restaurant opens every day from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and it is one of the best places to eat on the island. They serve a good selection of salads, seafood, burgers, wraps, as well as some local dishes. There is also a pro shop in the clubhouse, and it is also possible to arrange lessons.
The Challenges at Manele opens every day from 6:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The standard price for playing here is $225 including a cart. Weekend prices remain the same. Guests of the Four Seasons can get a reduction on this price. If you are arriving on the island for a day of golf at the Challenges, you can pick up the free shuttle service from Manele Harbor.
The Experience at Koele
One Keomoku Highway, Lanai City, HI 96763
Yelp Rating: 4.5 stars (based on 10 reviews)
Phone: (808) 565-4000
18 Holes: par 72
The Experience at Koele is also part of the Four Seasons Resort, but it manages to provide a very different experience than Challenges at Manele. It is well worth playing both if you can afford it when visiting Lanai. The Experience at Koele is in a mountainous area of the island (610 meters above sea level), and it benefits from the cooler climate. The course is surrounded by pine and eucalyptus trees, and the lush greenness of the surroundings make it visually stunning – there are also seven lakes on the course. The Experience at Koele was designed by Greg Norman and Ted Robinson. This is an easier course than the Challenges, but even the best players will need to play in top form to do well here.
The Experiences at Koele clubhouse isn’t as impressive as the one at Challenges at Manele, but it’s still a nice place to visit after a strenuous round of golf. They are only open for lunch and offer a reasonably good selection of snacks and light meals. You can eat on the terrace or inside in the beautifully furnished restaurant. There is also a fully stocked bar. The clubhouse also has a pro shop, and it is possible to arrange private golfing lessons.
It costs $225 to play 18-holes at the Experiences at Koele – price includes a golf cart. Players who are staying at the Four Seasons resort pay $210. There is a driving range and practice area close to the clubhouse.
Ironwood Hills Golf Club
Kalae Highway, Kualapuu, HI 96757
Yelp Rating: N/A
Phone: (808) 567-6000
9-Hole: Par 34
Ironwood Hills Golf Club is a relaxing venue that offers enough challenges to make it suitable for the more skilled player as well as the beginner. There are nine holes here. This is a plantation-style golf course that is surrounded by eucalyptus trees – the course is located in a beautiful part of the island that benefits from a nice cool breeze most of the time. One of the most interesting things about Ironwood Hills is that there are dramatic elevation changes, which makes playing here all the more exciting.
There is a small clubhouse at Iron Hills Golf Club. It is possible to hire some equipment here. It is run by Darrell Rego, the resident pro. Darrell is there to answer questions and make players feel welcome. There is no pro shop or restaurant, so players are advised to take everything they need with them. Iron Hills also doesn’t have a driving range. This course is popular with the locals, so it can be a good idea to phone ahead to make a booking.
It costs $36 to play at Iron Hills Golf Club in the mornings – this includes the price of a golf cart and 9-holes. If you want to go out in the afternoon, the price is reduced to $20.
Kaluakoi Golf Course
Kepuhi Beach, Maunaloa, Molokai, Hawaii 96770
Yelp Rating: N/A
18 Holes: Par 72
Kaluakoi Golf Course is currently closed (November 2013), and the course is in a state of disrepair. This was the only 18-hole course on the island, and it was fairly popular because of its beautiful location. It is expected that Kaluakoi will reopen at some point in the not-too-distant future.
[Image credit: Taylorandayumi at Flickr.com]