Hawaii

Long downhill view of the 18th at Kapalua

NO. 1 COURSE: KAPALUA PLANTATION COURSE

LOCATION: Kapalua, Maui

DIRECTIONS: From Kahului Airport head northeast on Lanui Circle to exit airport. Continue onto Hwy 380 (7.1 miles). Turn left at Hwy 30 (25.2 miles). Turn left at Office Rd. for the Kapalua Bay Course and the Kapalua Golf Academy. Continue on Hwy 30 (1.1 miles) for the Kapalua Plantation Course on right.

PHONE: 888.708.9705 (web site: www.kapalua.com/hawaii-golf)

GREEN FEES: $268 through March 31; $168 twilight.

OPENED: 1991 (Architects: Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore)

LAYOUT: Par 73, 7,411 yards. (four tee positions)

LOWDOWN: The Kapalua Plantation Course spans across rolling pineapple fields, Hawaiian canyons and rocky shorelines. This intraquit Maui golf course in Kapalua features 95 bunkers, expansive fairways, elevation changes and windy shorelines.

This course in the West Maui resort land of Kapalua has wide, wide fairways, giant greens with plenty of break and some fairly large ocean looks too. The designers and they worked hard to make sure that the 240 acres of hilly terrain set aside for the course was used to maximum effect.

There are uphill climbs and downhill rollercoasters. The par 3s are showy, particularly the eighth with a canyon clear and the 11th with its ocean perch, but the strength of Plantation Course can be found in its tough par 4s and monster par 5s. No. 1 – a downhill 473-yard par 4 – and No. 18 – a 663-yard par 5 that plays toward the ocean – are prime examples.

The Plantation Course, is the course of the champions, site of the PGA TOUR Hyundai Tournament of Champions each January featuring an elite field of previous year’s PGA Tour winners.  It is rated as the No. 1 Course in Hawaii by Golf Digest.

SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 18, par-5, 663 yards. While it’s more than challenging, the 18th provides one of the most breathtaking views on the whole island of Maui. This actually is a relatively straight-forward hole as virtually all 663 yards are visible from the tree. But hazards lurk, beginning with the forest that lines both sides of the fairway. The ideal tee shot is on the right side of the fairway as it slopes sharply right to left. Stay right the rest of the way, as well, because of a canyon that runs in front of the green. The views on this finishing hole are among the best in golf – anywhere in the world.

NO. 2 COURSE: PRINCE GOLF COURSE AT PRINCEVILLE 

LOCATION: Princeville at Hanalei, Kauai

PHONE: 808 826-5000 (web site: www.princeville.com/golf/prince-golf-course)

GREEN FEES: $200

DIRECTIONS: From Lihua airport: Exit north for 1.2 miles. Left left on Hwy 570 and go southwest for a half mile. Turn right on Private and go west for a half mile. Turn right on Kapula Hwy and go north for 1.3 miles. Turn right on Hwy 56, Kuhio Hwy, and go 25 miles. Turn right on Ka Haky Rd.

OPENED: 1991 (Architect: Robert Trent Jones Jr.)

LAYOUT: Par 72, 7,309 yards. (five tee positions)

LOWDOWN: The Prince Course reopens March 1, 2012 after a $5 million renovation. Like the rest of Princeville at Hanalei, the Prince Golf Course enjoys magnificent views from 300 feet above the Pacific Ocean. It’s not the scenery that earned the Prince Course Golf Digest’s rating as ‘Hawaii’s No. 1 Golf Course,’ it’s the incredible design Robert Trent Jones, Jr., created to turn rolling terrain into a links-style course.

This 18-hole, par-72 course climbs slopes and careens down hills as a demanding layout that calls for your best-planned shots. Five different tees at each hole allow you to customize the game to meet your own skill level. Make it your goal to track your progress by choosing a more difficult tee when you return to the Prince Golf Course.

The Prince ranks among golf’s most unique settings and its toughest tests, thanks to championship yardage of more than 7,100 yards and the opportunity for disaster on virtually every shot. Many fairways hug cliffs, jungle walls and ravines. Carries are required regularly, while greens are heavily sloped and bunkered – just in case you avoid everything else.

SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 7, par-3, 205 yards. The Prince Course’s signature hole is an example of just how interesting and difficult this course is as an approach shot has golfers hitting to a tiny, elevated green perched on a narrow island. A deep gorge surrounds the green on two sides, while the ocean beckons on the third.

Out on a spit, the No. 7 hole at Kauai Lagoons Kiele Moana

NO. 3 COURSE: KAUAI LAGOONS 

LOCATION: Lihue, Kauai

DIRECTIONS: The Marriott-operated Kauai Lagoons Golf Club is located in the picturesque southeast corner of Kauai, and is easily reachable by complimentary shuttle service from the Lihue airport (courtesy phone located outside of baggage claim area at airport.

PHONE: 808 241-6000 (web site: marriottgolf.com)

GREEN FEES: $140 for Marriott guests, $195 for visitors; $105 for Marriott guests at 12 noon, $125 for guests. Junior rates offered.

OPENED: 1988 (Architect: Jack Nicklaus)

LAYOUT: Par 71, 7,120 yards (four tee positions)

LOWDOWN: The Kiele Moana Nine, which boasts the longest continuous stretch of ocean holes of any golf course in Hawaii, is paired with the Kiele Mauka Nine to create the 18-hole signature layout at Kauai Lagoons Golf Club.

The Kiele Mauka Nine features the par-3, fifth hole that course designer Jack Nicklaus called “one of the best holes anywhere.” Measuring 219 yards from the back and requiring a tee shot over a valley of mango and guava trees, the fifth hole tests each golfer’s skill and nerve. This hole is third of a four-hole span the Kauai Lagoons golf staff refer to it as the ‘amen corner’ — once you make it past that, say ‘amen’ and keep going.

SIGNATURE HOLE: (Kiele Moana Nine) No. 7  par-4, 331 yards. Don’t be fooled by the rather short distance of this hole. Stray left on your tee shot or approach and you’ll be watching your ball splash into the Pacific Ocean. The fairway slopes right to left. It is best to stay right with your tee shot and keep your second shot about 100 yards short of the green, giving you an easy sand wedge into the green.

NO. 4 COURSE: OCEAN COURSE AT KONA 

LOCATION: Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

DIRECTIONS: From Kona International Airport: Turn right (south) at the main highway 19 (Kuakini Hwy) Turn right on Kamehameha III (Kam III) Rd. Go down the hill and make a left on Alii Dr. The entrance will be on the right-hand side. From downtown Kona: Go south on Alii Dr. Stay on Alii Dr. until you’ll see the entrance on the right-hand side. From Volcano Area: Take Hwy 11 north. Travel approximately 80 miles towards Kona. At Kamehameha III Rd., turn left. Turn left on Alii Dr. The entrance will be on the right-hand side.

PHONE: (888) 707-4522, (808) 322-2595, (808) 324-2726, (808)-324-2724, (808) 322-3431, (808) 324-2720 (web site: konogolf.com)

GREEN FEES: Weekdays: $125 – $145; weekends: $125 – $145; rates are as low as $107. Call course for more information.

OPENED: 1966 (Architect: William P. Bell)

LAYOUT: Par 72, 6,613 yards (three tee positions)

LOWDOWN: The Ocean Course is one of two championship courses at Kona Country Club. As its name implies, this course has an oceanfront location with views of the surrounding mountains that are home to its sister course, the Mountain Course.

The Ocean Course provides an easier, but no less enjoyable round than its sibling. The layout features wide-open fairways and numerous strategically placed sand bunkers. The turquoise waters and black lava outcroppings provide natural hazards.

While both Kona C.C. golf courses provide a variety of challenges, the Ocean Course is a gentle, more player-friendly option that still features the same stunning views as the Mountain Course.

SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 3, par- 3, 223 yards. The first two holes of the round will get you nice and loose and prepared for one of the most picturesque and challenging holes on the course – especially if the wind is coming off the Pacific Ocean and into your face. Though long in distance, the third hole is magnificent in its beauty. The view from the tee is breathtaking as you look directly at the Pacific Ocean.

NO. 5 COURSE: MAKENA

LOCATION: Makena, Maui

DIRECTIONS: From Kahului Airport: At first traffic signal outside of Airport, veer left at this signal, and follow Dairy Rd. (Costco is on your left). Continue on Dairy Rd. to the 6th traffic signal; get in left-turn line (there are 2). Turn left onto Pu’unene Ave. (Hwy 350), following the sign to Kihei, Wailea, & Makena.  Continue on Hwy 350, which connects to Hwy 311 (Mokulele Highway), for approximately seven miles. Turn left onto Hwy 31 (Pi’ilani Highway), the second traffic light. Continue on Hwy 31 approximately seven miles through 6 traffic signals until this stretch of road ends and you must turn right. Continue down the hill (in the left lane of traffic) where road ends at a stop light, with the Shops at Wailea in front of you. Turn left onto Wailea Alanui at traffic signal. Continue on Wailea Alanui through Wailea into Makena, approximately three miles. You will pass Makena Beach & Golf Resort on the right-side – the golf course will be just a little further on the left-side. Turn left into the entrance of Makena Golf Course.

PHONE: 808 879-3344 (web site: makenagolf.com)

GREEN FEES: Through April 30; $185 non-resort guest, $125 after 12 p.m., $99 after 2 p.m. Makena Beach guest, $140, $99 after 12 p.m., $79 after 2 p.m. Junior rates offered

OPENED: 1993 (Architect: Robert Trent Jones Jr.)

LAYOUT: Par 72, 6,914 yards (four tee positions)

LOWDOWN: Makena Golf Course is located in Maui’s southern region and navigates around Hawaiian lava rock walls, natural streams and gullies with views of the Pacific Ocean and mountains at many points. There are four sets of tees, the championship set playing to a challenging 6,914 yards.

Re-designed in 1993, it first opened in 1981 to rave reviews and is one of the last courses on Maui to remain in its original, natural state, offering panoramic views of rugged native kiawe and wili wili trees, ancient Hawaiian rock walls, natural streams and gullies, and abundant wildlife. It’s as much a remarkable nature walk as it is a challenging golf outing. The course is a rugged, natural test of golf – winding up, down, over and around the verdant foothills of Maui’s 10,028-foot-high dormant volcano, Mt. Haleakala.

SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 14, par 5, 620 yards. At 620 yards from the back tees, 582 from the regular tees, the 14th is the second-longest hole in Hawaii. It plays downhill all the way and long-hitters can reach the green in two. But watch out for the fairway bunkers.

- Jim Street