Matt Bielawa

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Hawaii Golf
« on: January 04, 2014, 04:29:44 pm »
All,

I'm looking for some suggestions, and with the Hyundai about to start, I thought it would be an appropriate thread anyway.  I'm working on scheduling a honeymoon trip, which might be to Hawaii this summer.  I have a fiance who understands my addiction to golf, so I think we'd be able to get some rounds in.  However, having never been to Hawaii, I'm kind of intimidated by the decision of which islands to go to.

For those who have been there, would you recommend parking on one island, or hopping around to more than one and/or all of them?  What courses should we not miss?

Jason Topp

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Re: Hawaii Golf
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2014, 04:46:45 pm »
We have always parked on one island and on your honeymoon do you really want to be checking in and out of hotels?  Where you should stay depends on your highest priorty.

Maui is the best choice for golf.  Kapalua Plantation is the only must play on any of the islands.  The resort is very nice but pretty exposed to the wind so it is not ideal for poolside lounging. It is, however, close to Lanai, which I have never visited but would if I visited again.   I would consider staying at Wailea to be more shielded from the wind but still on the dry side of the island.  

Kaui would be my 2nd choice for golf.  Poipu Bay is a very nice resort but the golf course is pretty mediocre.  I did like the set up with a family however, because I could sneakl off and hit balls for an hour a day while still spending most of my time with the spouse and kids.  I have not played the course on the other side of the Island (Princeville)that is pretty dramatic but I would not want to stay on that side due to the rain.  The downside of the island is that is covered with a red dirt and has a ton of chickens.  

I did not play golf on the Big Island, but it was my favorite island to visit and there are quite a few nice golf resorts.  I thought the island was the most beautiful and had the most interesting excusions.  

Oahu has the most golf courses, but quantity does not equal quality.  The best are either the course where they hold the tournament or Turtle Bay - Palmer.  Waikiki is a lot of fun so if you want hopping nightlife, it would be the best choice.  

Regardless of the island you visit you will not regret it.  Enjoy!

Aidan Bradley

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Re: Hawaii Golf
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2014, 05:20:01 pm »
As someone who has a "pre nub" which permits me to play golf twice a week, no questions asked, I respectfully suggest Kauai. You can divide your time between the North and South of the Island but would suggest a little more time on the North side. With all due respect to Jason, I found that the ever present and ambulatory wild chickens added a certain local flavor to the experience.

Since it is your wedding, go ahead and splurge on at least a few night at the St Regis in Princeville. You are ten minutes from the idilic and charming village of Hanalei, which skirts one of the most beautiful bay's in the world. The Calypso Bar and Restaurant is not to be missed, moments from the beach. Yes, the area is the wettest spot in the world(in the mountains) but in my three visits to the area I never been rained upon.

Within minutes from your hotel there are two wonderful golf courses, Makai and the newly renovated and very challenging Prince, albeit awash with stunning views of both ocean, mountain and local vegetation. The balance between the time playing golf in this amazing amphitheater and the lazy strolls on the beach, local fish tacos, and the occasional colorful adult beverage, make for the perfect melange of all things delightful.

As Jason mentioned, on the south side of the bay you have the very pleasant Poipu Resort. You just got married, how can you not enjoy the golf course. If you have a chance or a connection, I strongly suggest you try and play Kukuiula, a visually stunning new course close by. That is my recommendation and irrespective of your final choice, congratulations and make it a trip to remember.

Aidan.




Nigel Islam

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Re: Hawaii Golf
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2014, 06:00:34 pm »
I have never been to Hawaii, but I would have to go to Oahu just to see the Arizona monument and do some Magnum PI sights 8)

Jason Topp

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Re: Hawaii Golf
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2014, 06:14:29 pm »
With all due respect to Jason, I found that the ever present and ambulatory wild chickens added a certain local flavor to the experience.

Definitely some truth in that statement.  I am also proud of my red-dirt tee shirt.


Joel_Stewart

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Re: Hawaii Golf
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2014, 06:22:14 pm »
You could use the search function and see that just about every course in Hawaii has been discussed.

The question is do you want some nice relaxing place to go or do you and your wife want to see some sights and go out at night.  It makes a big difference.

Kauai is the prettiest but its very sleepy and filled with RTJ jr courses.  I'll disagree with Aidan and say avoid Poipu golf course.  It Jones at his worst best.

Honolulu (Oahu) is my favorite but I like the restaurants and the vibe of the city.  The golf is just OK but there are quite a few.  Its very resort-ish and cater to an international clientele that like those type of courses.

The Big Island is pretty good for golf.  Nanea is probably the best course in Hawaii and the hotels are excellent.  Personally I just don't find all that lava very pretty.

Maui is a nice mix of all of the above.  As you can see on TV, the wind can howl at the Plantation course.  

I haven't been to Lanai but told the resorts are much better now.   They are easy to access from Maui.  

Brad Tufts

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Re: Hawaii Golf
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2014, 09:57:46 pm »
I'd go to Kauai, especially for a honeymoon.

The most beautiful and romantic of all the islands, the golf has enough variety to keep you happy.  I like the Big Island and Maui too, but Kauai is just paradise.

I would also stay at the St. Regis on a honeymoon, unless you are using Marriott pts. or something.  I have a buddy who went there on his honeymoon and had a blast.

If one round....play the Prince.  If two probably the Prince and the Makai (Poipu is decent but not great other than the great views).  Consideration should be given to playing Wailua, which hosted a US Publinks in the 90s....great muni with some great holes, especially on the back nine...cash only, about $40...a true island experience!

Kauai Lagoons and Kukui'ula are both pretty good too, but the former is expensive and the latter is private if no access.
So I jump ship in Hong Kong....

David Harshbarger

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Re: Hawaii Golf
« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2014, 10:17:03 pm »
We did our baby moon on Maui, but the best part was our time on Lana'i.  The Challenge at Manele is wonderful, and withall due respect few on the board have played there based on previous threads.

We took the ferry from Laihaina stayed at the Lodge at Koele, and just had a wonderful experience.

Koele has a Norman course which was nice, but the Manele course is spectacular.  

The Lodge at Koele is beautiful to boot.

So do west coast of Maui and/or Lana'i and you and spouse will be ecstatic.
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mike_beene

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Re: Hawaii Golf
« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2014, 10:59:32 pm »
Toss up with Maui but I really like the Kona Coast of the Big Island. However ,if a tropical look is important go to one if the other islands.The dry side of Maui is a favorite of mine.The rainy sides of the islands wear me out

Mark Provenzano

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Re: Hawaii Golf
« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2014, 01:27:16 am »
http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,53273.0.html has a pretty comprehensive review of many of the Hawaii courses.

I wouldn't have played King Kamehameha on this trip without that write-up, and I'm so glad I did.

If you do choose Maui, the day trip to Lanai on the ferry to Lanai is a must. Note that the Norman course is closing for a year-long Nicklaus makeover next week. Strange playing a course this week that was doomed--they told us not to bother filling divots (and even left the bottles empty.) They've removed tons of trees on the upper nine already, which will they say will improve the views...but also a leave a course that was subject to some wild winds even windier.  (No matter, just play Manele twice.)


Joel_Stewart

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Re: Hawaii Golf
« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2014, 12:42:19 pm »
Note that the Norman course is closing for a year-long Nicklaus makeover next week. Strange playing a course this week that was doomed--they told us not to bother filling divots (and even left the bottles empty.) They've removed tons of trees on the upper nine already, which will they say will improve the views...but also a leave a course that was subject to some wild winds even windier.

I couldn't find any news relating to Nicklaus working on the Norman course?  If I recall, it's one of Normans earlier courses?  

There must be a story on why Norman wasn't retained to work on his own course.

Jon Wiggett

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Re: Hawaii Golf
« Reply #11 on: January 05, 2014, 01:06:58 pm »
Matt,

maybe Stan Dodd will chip in as he lives there for much of the year or at least used to.

Jon

Mark Provenzano

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Re: Hawaii Golf
« Reply #12 on: January 05, 2014, 03:42:51 pm »
Note that the Norman course is closing for a year-long Nicklaus makeover next week. Strange playing a course this week that was doomed--they told us not to bother filling divots (and even left the bottles empty.) They've removed tons of trees on the upper nine already, which will they say will improve the views...but also a leave a course that was subject to some wild winds even windier.

I couldn't find any news relating to Nicklaus working on the Norman course?  If I recall, it's one of Normans earlier courses?  

There must be a story on why Norman wasn't retained to work on his own course.

It's listed on the Nicklaus Design website under "Courses Under Development." http://www.nicklaus.com/design/lodge-at-koele/

I didn't see anything else in writing, but everyone from the Maui Golf Shop in Kahului to staff at both Koele and Manele said it was Nicklaus working on it. They're also reversing the nines.

Koele is pleasant enough but not memorable--it's hard to remember individual holes besides 17 and that short par 4 with the island green.

Brian_Sleeman

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Re: Hawaii Golf
« Reply #13 on: January 05, 2014, 04:05:09 pm »
My wife plays and we have been to Hawaii twice, making Maui our base on both occasions.  Based on that somewhat limited experience, the only course you must play is the Plantation Course at Kapalua.  The Bay Course is nice and is very pretty, but to me is not worth the high price tag when you consider some of your other options.  Driving down to the southwest corner of the island I would recommend Makena.  It may have the best ocean views of the bunch and is usually doable at a decent rate.  Friendly staff and you'll want to go off as early as you can.  Definitely worth the drive.

I, too, highly recommend the day trip to Lanai.  The ferry ride is a nice opportunity for some bonus whale watching (albeit from a slight distance compared to the official tours), and as has been mentioned, the Challenge at Manele is very, very good.  It's a quiet island and might be worth a stay at the Lodge, which is in a beautiful location at a higher elevation.  While I enjoyed the Experience at Koele, the golf course wasn't in the greatest shape (this was almost exactly a year ago) and it had some good holes and a fair amount of "OK," particularly when compared with Manele.  Glad to hear it will see some renovation work.  Play Manele twice and hang out at the Ritz for a drink or lunch/dinner.  The bar area at the pool is a wonderful setting.

Don't miss the sunrise at Haleakala when on Maui, and bring some warm clothing specifically for the trip.  It's an amazing experience not to be missed.  You'll have a blast no matter where you go!

Jeff Evagues

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Re: Hawaii Golf
« Reply #14 on: January 05, 2014, 05:54:56 pm »
Makena is now closed. It is supposed to reopen later this year as a private course. Makena South closed a few years ago to re emerge as a private course but that fell through and it is now back to nature.
Be the ball

Paul Jones

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Re: Hawaii Golf
« Reply #15 on: January 05, 2014, 07:32:32 pm »
My wife and I just got back.  We stayed on The Big Island, but did take a day trip to Maui.  She rode with me while I played Kapalua and then spend the rest of the day and night shopping and eating on Front Street in Lahiana.

We stayed at Mauna Kea and really enjoyed it.  I was able to play early in the morning at Mauna Kea and it has the best beach in Hawaii.

Tommy Williamsen

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Re: Hawaii Golf
« Reply #16 on: January 05, 2014, 08:30:29 pm »
You could plan a nice honeymoon on any of the islands.  They all have decent golf , but do not have what I would call great golf.  Kapalua is excellent but it can get the most rain as well.  Wailea has good golf and great beaches.  Kauai is spectacular from Waimea Canyon to the astonishing north coast and the Prince, my favorite course, though some here dislike it immensely.  

But if i were going on a honeymoon i would pick Manele Bay on Lanai.  The course is nothing short of spectacular. Even a non golfer would enjoy walking or riding around that course.  The hotel is wonderful and on the beach you can periodically swim with dolphins. It is pricey and recently has been purchased so I don't know what it is like since Larry Elison bought it.  For a complete change of pace you can go up the mt to Koele.  Nothing like it on Hawaii.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2014, 01:07:49 pm by Tommy Williamsen »
Tom Williamsen

Tim Leahy

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Re: Hawaii Golf
« Reply #17 on: January 06, 2014, 06:17:32 pm »
Anybody know what happened to the Village course at Kapalua? I enjoyed playing the course with the other two in the early 90's. Last I heard it was going to be renovated by Fazio.
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Steve Green

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Re: Hawaii Golf
« Reply #18 on: January 06, 2014, 07:12:36 pm »
Matt,

I have played a great deal of golf in Hawaii but have never honeymooned there.  Not being a golf centric trip you have to keep your wife's interests in mind. On balance I would recommend Maui, much more to do than Kauai or the Big Island.  Stay in Wailea, best beaches, great hotels (Four Seasons is fantastic).  Golf just across the street.  Lahaina is a cool town.  Not hard to get up to Kapalua and play the Plantation Course which is some of the most fun to be had.

If you and your wife want to feel by your selves, with some great golf nearby the Four Season Lanai is wonderful.  Lanai is small, very little to do but lay by the beach or pool, but the two golf courses on the island are a lot of fun.  

Enjoy and good luck.
The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.
Bertrand Russell

Jeff Evagues

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Re: Hawaii Golf
« Reply #19 on: January 06, 2014, 08:19:33 pm »
Anybody know what happened to the Village course at Kapalua? I enjoyed playing the course with the other two in the early 90's. Last I heard it was going to be renovated by Fazio.
Same as happened to Makena South. The recession shut down the private course idea and it is now jungle. I liked it better than the Bay course. There are actually 2 or 3 holes left. The golf academy uses them as a practice facility.
Be the ball

Brian Finn

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Re: Hawaii Golf
« Reply #20 on: January 06, 2014, 10:55:26 pm »
My wife and I honeymooned in Kauai. We did a week at Princeville, which I would highly recommend on our 2003 visit, and I am told it is far better all around now.  Hanalei is an awesome little town, and there are great beaches every few hundred yards.  The golf was good when we visited. I enjoyed the Prince, although it can be penal, and have heard great things of the recent work. My wife (not a golfer, really) played Makai with me and it was both beautiful and playable. If you enjoy hiking, there are some incredible spots, such as Ke'e beach, where you can walk down the Nepali coast, which has no roads or inhabitants (except a bunch of hippies that have life truly figured out).  We also took a boat ride along the coast, which is among the most beautiful spots I have seen.  The rain on the north coast was not an issue when we went (August).  My wife and I felt the North Coast was perfectly quiet and serene for our needs, with just enough in the way of restaurants and shops (totally non-commercial, though).  

We also stayed for a week at the Marriott, which is closer to the airport (SE corner of island) and a bit more of 'civilization.'  While not quite as quiet or luxurious as Princeville, it was in a nice spot and had a great property. I really enjoyed one of the courses there (one is substantially better), and again played the other (Mokihana, which they may have closed) with my wife. From that location, one of our favorite activities was visiting Waimea Canyon, which is truly breathtaking.  We visited some of the beaches on the south coast (Poipu beach, et al) and they were also beautiful, if not as remote as up near Hanalei. I played Poipu GC, and had fun, but besides the seaside views did not consider it worth full freight. I do wish I played the muni on the east coast instead.

I've been to the other islands in Hawaii on other trips, and would pretty much say you can't go wrong...Maui is probably the safest bet overall, but the big island, Kauai, and Oahu all have much to offer, depending on your priorities. I regret never having gone to Lanai.  I understand it is a very easy trip (for the day, or a few) from Maui, with good golf and nice resorts. Congratulations, and enjoy!

Peter Le

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Re: Hawaii Golf
« Reply #21 on: January 07, 2014, 04:23:47 pm »
I've been to Hawaii a few times to see family there. My wife had never been before our first trip together in 2011. She was happy to see the touristy parts of Oahu: downtown Honolulu and Waikiki, the Dole pineapple plantation, and the North Shore. Ultimately she found the other islands to be much more enjoyable. If you're looking for a good balance of honeymoon, golf, and things to do as a couple, I would throw my vote for the big island and stay in Kona. Mauni Lani (south) is solid. Hualalai is also interesting. The island has a great botanical garden and volcano national park. My wife was very happy, which ultimately made me happier. I think you'll have a great time on any of the islands!
PL

Tom_Doak

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Re: Hawaii Golf
« Reply #22 on: January 07, 2014, 09:48:46 pm »

There must be a story on why Norman wasn't retained to work on his own course.

Well, for starters, that was really a Ted Robinson course with Norman as a design consultant; it wasn't built by Norman's company.  And after that, Larry Ellison is going to hire whoever the hell he wants to hire.


I have never stayed at Manele Bay, but walking through the hotel I would put it as the best choice of what I've seen in the islands.  I have stayed in the three big resorts on Kauai and all of the older resorts on the Big Island, courtesy of the GOLF Magazine travel department, many moons ago; as well as getting to Kapalua several times.  The only caveat about Manele Bay is that you don't fly into Lanai, so depending on where you're coming from, it might be hard to get there for your first night in the islands.

If your bride is more of an active girl (hiking and biking), choose Kauai or Lanai.  If she likes to lay on the beach, most any of the islands are good, but if you're going in summer, Kauai and Kapalua and Princeville are going to get more downpours than the resorts on the Big Island, or Manele Bay.

The nice thing about honeymooning in Hawaii is that you can go back for your anniversary and see other islands.  Don't try to see them this trip.

Joel_Stewart

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Re: Hawaii Golf
« Reply #23 on: January 07, 2014, 11:45:13 pm »

There must be a story on why Norman wasn't retained to work on his own course.

Well, for starters, that was really a Ted Robinson course with Norman as a design consultant; it wasn't built by Norman's company.  And after that, Larry Ellison is going to hire whoever the hell he wants to hire.

That's news to me.  I can only hope that Ellison will follow Donald Trumps lead in his architect selections.  Ellison hired two former Fazio associates for Porcupine Creek and now Nicklaus.

Mark Nieto

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Re: Hawaii Golf
« Reply #24 on: January 08, 2014, 02:00:40 am »
Matt,

I honeymooned in Hawaii ~2 years ago.  I managed to play two courses on a 10 day trip.  Wish I could've played more, but my wife's a non-golfer.  Looking back, there's one thing I'm happy I did and one thing I'd do differently.

First, I'm happy I visited Lanai.  It was the first (of two) islands that we visited.  We stayed at the 4 Seasons Manele Bay and I played that course as well.  As Mr. Doak mentioned, it takes a bit of time and effort to get to this island as a first-stop.  But I'm happy my wife and I did.  The island is tiny and there isn't much to do besides lay on the beach or play golf.  But, the hotel was very nice and the island offered a nice respite from the hectic-ness of the wedding.  The course was fun; good views and well-conditioned.  The layout didn't knock my socks off and the green fees were pretty steep, but hey, it was golf under the Hawaiian sun and it was my honeymoon.  Hard to complain.

After 3 nights in Lanai, we moved to Maui and stayed at Kapalua.  I would've done this differently because it rained a lot.  I didn't brave the rain to play the Plantation Course.  Instead, I played Wailea (Gold Course), which was so-so.  Architecturally, I found nothing to write home about.  If I had an opportunity to do this again, I'd have visited Kauai (south shore so it has a lower chance of rain).  Kauai has better hiking and, overall, has a more natural, less-developed look.  While I haven't played golf on Kauai, it appears from other posters that you'll find some quality golf there without issue.  

Hope this helps and hope you have fun!


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