The Garden Island is a Golfer’s ParadisePosted on: 08/10/2022
For an island that is only 90 miles from one end to the other (25 miles inaccessible by vehicle), Kauai boasts an impressive roster of award-winning golf courses, many designed by world-renowned golf course architects such as Robert Trent Jones Jr., Tom Weiskopf and Jack Nicklaus. Kauai’s year-round sunny weather and cool ocean tradewinds mean that golf can be an everyday activity and there is plenty of variety to keep you challenged and engaged, no matter what your handicap.
Poipu Golf Courses
Kukuiula Golf Course
Wide open, immaculate fairways, well placed bunkers and dramatic oceanfront views of the Poipu coastline make Kukuiula Golf Course a pleasure to play. As Kauai’s only private community golf course, this 18-hole Tom Weiskopf designed course covers 216 acres of well groomed greens for a perfect playing experience. It has been said that one must experience the 14th hole, described as the quintessential Weiskopf par 4. Every hole on the course has something that can be eaten or worn, including macadamia nut trees, refreshing lilikoi (passion fruit), or juicy pineapple. The only caveat – you have to own real estate in the community to be a member of the Kukuiula Club to play here. Membership includes complimentary adult golf clinics for men and women and junior golf classes, while the impressive golf clubhouse features a pro shop, lounges, locker rooms, practice greens, golf boards and cart rentals. If membership is not an option, you can still enjoy the stunning ocean and golf views from this Kukuiula vacation rental.
Members only golf, call (808) 742-8000 for more information.
Kiahuna Golf Course
The Robert Trent Jones Jr. designed 18-hole Kiahuna Golf Course is one of three courses in the mile-long town of Poipu. Kiahuna Golf Course is not an oceanfront course like its two neighboring courses, but that does not make the course any less scenic or interesting. In fact, the course was designed around the ancient remnants of an authentic Hawaiian village and is a sanctuary for many endangered bird species, such as the Nene, which is the official state bird of Hawaii, the native Hawaiian Stilt, Moorhen and Black-Crowned Night Heron. Kiahuna Golf Course is a local favorite for its level of challenge, especially when the trade winds are blowing hard. The 12th hole, a par 3, played over the gently flowing Waikomo stream is deceiving in its distance and level of difficulty.
Open daily from 6:30 am to 6 pm, call (808) 742-9595 for reservations or book online. Rates vary from $65-$99.
Poipu Bay Golf Course
If playing an award-winning course that has hosted numerous golf legends, then consider a round at Poipu Bay Golf Course, next to the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa in Poipu. Poipu Bay Golf Course is where Tiger Woods won seven PGA Grand Slam of Golf championships during his best years in the game. Built on sea bluffs with dramatic ocean views, Poipu Bay Golf Course is as stunning in play as its backdrop. Robert Trent Jones Jr. designed this championship course to highlight the natural beauty of the area with wide open fairways and well placed bunkers, making it a dream for long drivers. Completely oceanfront on the back nine, you might find your rate of play very slow with all the picture perfect photography opportunities. The golf course was built around several ancient Hawaiian historical sites, including a massive heiau (rock platform) on the back nine. If your ball lands in the heiau, we highly suggest leaving it as a sacrifice to the Hawaiian gods. Poipu Bay Golf Course operates like a five star resort golf course, with in-cart satellite navigation to provide the exact distance to the hole and pin placement, complimentary bottled water and refreshing cold towels for players.
Open daily from 6:30 am to 6 pm, call (808) 742-8711 for reservations or book online up to 30 days in advance. Rates range from $179-$215 per round of play with multi-round packages available.
Kukuiolono Golf Course
Described as the most underrated golf course on Kauai, Kukuiolono Golf Course is actually one of Kauai’s best kept secrets and only 20 minutes from Poipu in the hillside town of Kalaheo. This semi private 9-hole course boasts the most affordable rates on island – only $7 for weekdays and $9 on weekends! Designed in 1928 by Toya Shirai, a Kauai golf legend who was instrumental in putting Hawaii golf on the map. Kukuiolono golf course, or “Kuks” as the locals like to call it, is one of the most loved golf course by locals on island. While it is a “no frills” course, scenic views of the Pacific Ocean and nearby Kauai Coffee fields make it feel like it should cost way more to play. Beware of hole three, a difficult par 4 that plays uphill into the wind, and hole six, a par 3 that requires hitting over a steep ravine. The golf course includes a driving range, rental club and carts and a restaurant on property. This golf course only accepts cash so make sure to stop at the ATM on your way up to Kukuiulono Golf Course.
Open daily from 7 am to 6 pm, call (808) 332-9151 for more information. There are no tee times and first come, first served. Rates are $7 on weekdays and $9 on weekends.
East Side Golf Courses
Wailua Golf Course
Wailua Golf Course, Kauai’s only municipal golf course is located on the east side of the island, is approximately a 30 minute drive from Poipu. This 18-hole course was also designed by Toyo Shirai. Don’t let the idea that this is a municipal course fool you, Golf Digest has ranked Wailua Golf course on of Hawaii’s best 15 golf courses and The Golf Channel ranked it the 3rd best course in Hawaii. Many are often surprised when playing Wailua Golf Course, first because of its affordable rates ($48 for non-resident play) and second because of how well-maintained the course is by the County of Kauai. Golf cart and club rentals are available on property, as well as cart concessions and clubhouse restaurant. If playing in a non-resort, laid back atmosphere is what you are looking for, Wailua Golf Course is the course for you.
For two or more players, reservations may be made up to 7 days in advance in person or by calling (808) 241-6666 from 7 a.m. HST. Single players sent out on a standby basis. Morning Twilight Play starts at the #10 tee for 9-holes and Afternoon Twilight Play starts at 2 pm daily with no reservations needed.
Puakea Golf Course
Known as the local’s home course, Puakea Golf Course was built on more than 200 acres of former sugar plantation land in the central town of Lihue. The course was designed by famed architect Robin Nelson at the base of the magnificent Mount Haupu with sweeping vistas surrounding you in every direction. Wide open fairways make this a fun course for the beginner golfer with high handicap, while numerous water hazards provide just enough challenge. The back nine, constructed later in the early 2000s, are the most difficult and yet the most scenic to play. Puakea Golf Course is known for having an excellent pace of play at just around four hours, so you can spend half the day on the golf course and the other half at the beach.
Open daily from 7 am to 6 pm, call (808) 245-8756 for reservations or book online. Rates vary from $45-$85.
The Ocean Course at Hokuala
Golfers wanting to experience a premier course on Kauai must include the newly renovated Ocean Course at Hokuala on their list. Designed by Jack Nicklaus, the 2017 renovation once again incorporated Nicklaus’ signature style into the design process to reflect the quality of conditioning, maintenance, and play that those who are familiar with Nicklaus have come to expect. Renovation highlights include the introduction of Tif Eagle grass, renewed bunkering with new drainage, liners and white silica sand. The views however, needed no renovation with the longest stretch of oceanfront golf in all of Hawaii. The Ocean Course is located in an area teeming with an abundance of wildlife, from watching dolphins dance off shore, to humpback whales breaching during whale season and nene geese flying by in a peaceful formation. It is no wonder The Ocean Course by Hokuala was named “Hawaii’s Best Golf Course” in 2018 by the World Golf Awards. Their golf club offers multi round packages, weekly golf clinics with PGA golf pro instructors, Lil Tiger junior golf, golfboard certification classes and more. Located in the central town of Lihue, literally next the airport.
Open daily from 6:45 am to 6 pm, call (844) 815-9193 for reservations or book online. Rates start at $179 per player.
North Shore Golf Courses
Princeville Makai Golf Course
The north shore of Kauai, with its natural beauty, wild landscape, and lush mountain ranges are everything you hope to experience when planning a trip to Kauai. Its natural beauty is so picturesque that it becomes abundantly clear why there is only superbly well done golf is acceptable on the north shore. Enter in the picture Robert Trent Jones Jr., who designed the Princeville Makai Golf Course as his first ever solo design course in history. The Princeville Makai Golf Course underwent a $6 million renovation in 2010, while the adjacent Prince Course has been closed since 2014. Incomparable views of Hanalei Bay and the distant Makana Peak, more easily recognized as Bali Hai, are why hole seven is the showstopper of all six oceanfront holes. The clubhouse offers sunset golf cart tours for non-golfers, mauka disc golf, sunrise yoga, tennis and facilities for special occasions. Keep in mind that the north shore tends to get more rain than other areas of the island and because of this plays a little more wet. The Princeville Makai Golf Course is a legendary golf course, played by all of golf’s elite and beloved by top names in the golf world, making it understandable why it is the highest ranking resort golf experience on the island of Kauai.
Open daily from 7 am to 6 pm, call (808) 826-1912 for reservations or book online. Rates start at $179 per player.