Golf in Kauai
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For golfers, the Garden Isle might as well be known as the Robert Trent Jones Jr. Isle. Four of the island's nine courses, including Poipu Bay—onetime home of the PGA Grand Slam of Golf—are the work of Jones, who maintains a home at Princeville. Combine these four courses with those from Jack Nicklaus, Robin Nelson, and local legend Toyo Shirai, and you'll see that golf sets Kauai apart from the other Islands as much as the Pacific Ocean does. Afternoon tee times can save you big bucks.
Kauai Lagoons Golf Club. After a 2011 renovation the Kiele Moana Nine (ocean) course now features a half-mile of oceanfront golf, the longest stretch of continuous ocean holes in Hawaii. Jack Nicklaus returned to do the initial design work and then saw it to completion. he Kiele Moana Nine is coupled with the Kiele Mauka (toward the mountain) Nine to offer players 18 championship-style holes of golf. For those looking for a more family- and kid-friendly layout, their Waikehe Nine inland course is an economical option. 3351 Hoolaulea Way, Lihue, HI, 96766. 808/241–6000 or 800/634–6400. www.kauailagoonsgolf.com. From $150. 18 holes, 7156 yds, par 72.
Kauai Mini Golf. The only miniature golf course on the island, Kauai Mini Golf is also a full botanical garden. The 18-hole course was designed to be challenging, beautiful and family-friendly. Replacing the typical clown's nose and spinning wheels are some water features and tropical tunnels. Surrounding each hole is flora and plant life that walks players through different eras of Hawaiian history. A gift shop with local products and a concessions counter make it a fun activity for any time of day. 5-273 Kuhio Hwy, Kilauea, HI, 96754. 808/828–2118. www.kauaiminigolf.com. $18. Tue.–Sun., 11–8.
Kiahuna Plantation Golf Course. A meandering creek, lava outcrops, and thickets of trees give Kiahuna its character. Robert Trent Jones Jr. was given a smallish piece of land just inland at Poipu, and defends par with smaller targets, awkward stances, and optical illusions. In 2003 a group of homeowners bought the club and brought Jones back to renovate the course (it was originally built in 1983), adding tees and revamping bunkers. The pro here boasts his course has the best putting greens on the island. This is the only course on Kauai with a complete set of junior's tee boxes. 2545 Kiahuna Plantation Dr., Koloa, HI, 96756. 808/742–9595. www.kiahunagolf.com. $105. 18 holes, 6341 yds, par 70.
Poipu Bay Golf Course. Poipu Bay has been called the Pebble Beach of Hawaii, and the comparison is apt. Like Pebble Beach, Poipu is a links course built on headlands, not true links land. There's wildlife galore. It's not unusual for golfers to see monk seals sunning on the beach below, sea turtles bobbing outside the shore break, and humpback whales leaping offshore. From 1994 to 2006, the course (designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr.) hosted the annual PGA Grand Slam of Golf. Tiger Woods was a frequent winner here. Call ahead to take advantage of varying prices for tee times. 2250 Ainako St., Koloa, HI, 96756. 808/742–8711. www.poipubaygolf.com. $240. 18 holes, 6127 yards, par 72.
Princeville Makai Golf Club. The 27-hole Princeville Makai Golf Club was named for its five ocean-hugging front holes. Designed by golf course architect Robert Trent Jones Jr. in 1971, the 18-hole championship Makai Course underwent extensive renovations from 2008–2010, including new turf throughout, reshaped greens and bunkers, refurbished cart paths and comfort stations, and an extensive practice facility. Since the renovation the Makai Course has consistently been ranked a top golf course in the U.S. The Club offers free rounds for juniors (15 and under) when accompanied by one paying adult. A web check (makaigolf.com) provides varying rates. 4080 Lei O Papa Rd., Princeville, HI, 96722. www.makaigolf.com. $239. 18-holes, 7223 yards, par 72; Woods Course: 9 holes, 3445 yards, par 36.
Prince Golf Course. The Prince Course reveals architect Robert Trent Jones Jr. at his finest as it meanders over 390 acres of natural splendor with fairytale vistas and jungly valleys. A challenging course that emphasizes touch and precision. Mountain and ocean views frame rolling plateaus and deep ravines with tropical birds and flora serving as natural backdrops. A high-end practice facility morphs into a kid and duffer friendly 6-hole, par 3 course after 4 pm daily. Celebrity chef Roy Yamaguchi’s restaurant, The Tavern, complements the upscale ambience of the facility. 5-3900 Kuhio Hwy., 96722. 808/826–5001. www.princeville.com. $250. 18 holes, 7378 yds, par 72.
Wailua Municipal Golf Course. Considered by many to be one of Hawaii's best golf courses, this seaside course provides an affordable game with minimal water hazards, but it is challenging enough to have been chosen to host three USGA Amateur Public Links Championships. It was first built as a 9-holer in the 1930s. The second 9 holes were added in 1961. Course designer Toyo Shirai created a course that is fun but not punishing. The trade winds blow steadily on the East Side of the island and provide a game with challenges. An ocean view and affordability make this one of the most popular courses on the island. Tee times are accepted up to seven days in advance and must be paid in cash or traveler's checks. 3-5350 Kuhio Hwy., Lihue, HI, 96766. 808/241–6666. $48 weekdays, $60 weekends; cart rental $20. 18 holes, 6585 yds, par 72.
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