Hawaii Course Recommendations


So, I am sitting in a hotel room having just played Kapalua Plantation Course for the first time earlier today and all I can say is wow. If you ever get the chance to play there, do it. It is probably the first time in my life I have paid for an experience at that price and completely thought it was worth it. Nicest course I have ever played hands down. The grass is in perfect condition and the putting surfaces are insane. This was a really fun time to play it as the tournament is in about 2 weeks. For someone who has never played in a pro-am or anything, it was really fun playing with bleachers and TV towers on almost every hole. The only downside to this was it was cart path only for tournament prep and that got very tiring very fast.

As for the course layout, every hole was fun. I have never been into golf architecture or design as I have said before on this site but today may have changed my interest in that. It was so fun on every hole how you could see the landing area that was planned out or else you would be in terrible shape to get a par or better if you didn’t hit it there.

One last thing, I know earlier in this thread I was defending the Kaanapali Courses and let me just say compared to this course, I can see why people were dogging them. They are so different and you can just tell one is a standard resort course and one is actually PGA quality. With that being said, I am playing Kaanapali tomorrow and am pretty sure I will enjoy every minute of it.



One last thing, the stories you hear about putting at Kapalua are no joke. I had probably 4 3-putts over the whole day and that’s with making probably 3-4 putts from over 15 feet.

(In Arizona where I play the most, I might have one 3 putt during a round just for reference.)



Awesome to hear!

Agree re the tricky greens. The grain totally headfaked me all day. Not used to it at all.



That’s awesome to hear. My wife and I are heading to Maui 3 weeks after the PGA tourney and she signed off on me getting a round in so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to book a round at Kapalua. I’m pumped, first Coore & Crenshaw experience as a guy who is just becoming woke to golf architecture thanks to NLU/Fried Egg and co in the last year or so. Did you happen to rent clubs from the course? I’ve read online they are stocked with some of the most recent Titleist gear, which I don’t play Titleist myself but for one round I’ll manage versus shipping the clubs. I’m counting down the days over here!

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This was my experience at Kapalua in 2004. 6 inches of rain in 30 minutes. We started on #10 and made it to #14 green (this photo) until they pulled everyone off the course. The weather down at the beach? Perfect, full sun. Needless to say, after traveling from Ohio for our spring break, we were all disappointed.



I played Plantation this year, they were indeed stocked with Titlist rental clubs. Definitely a good idea to rent especially if you are only playing 1 round.

Most fun I’ve ever had playing golf.

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We had our own clubs but from what I could see on other carts around the clubhouse they looked perfect.

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Rented clubs there in 2017.

Mint 917 woods, a set of current model AP2s, brand new Vokeys and a Newport 2 Scotty. Ridic.



Sounds pretty great. Hopefully I don’t love them or else my Hawaii trip is going to include the cost of a new set of irons when I get back home.



So true about the greens on Plantation. Gigantic and very difficult even though they don’t appear to be at first. They’re like illusions, way more break than you think. Caddie told me it’s because course is built into a side of mountain so everything is sloping down the mountain even if the putt looks flat. I had six 3 putts. Then there is the grain factor, if you play on bent usually, reading these is a different experience.

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Hands down Manele. From Maui I took over the first ferry, played 45, and took the last ferry back. It was a top 5 day in my life.



As one who earlier posted to this thread and received good feedback and advice, I concur with @andy1288: Manele is a can’t miss if you go to Maui. Granted, we stayed in Lanai as well so didn’t have to deal with the ferry there and back in the same day (and as an aside, I’m not sure what arrangements are permitted if you’re not staying at the hotel there), but the course is one of the most beautiful and fun golf courses you will ever see – and it gets NO play. If your wife gives you the go ahead, you can go out as a single (super common there) and get through 18 in 2.5 hours. The course is divine - the experience somewhere between serenity and enlightenment. No. 12 - a ~200 yard one-shotter over a cliff into a green built into a volcanic outcropping - is Cypress Point-esque.

As for Maui, I didn’t get a chance to get out to Kapalua, which I do regret (beggars can’t be choosers, and we were staying in Wailea). For its part, the gold course at Wailea was easy to get around, but it’s honestly nothing special - pretty standard resort golf with a nicer view. If you’re staying closer to Kapalua or have the luxury of more time, stay up that way.



Thanks everyone for their input. My travel date is getting closer I’m still unsure on what courses should I play. Plantation course will be closed so I’m thinking the following (Staying in the Wailea Area) :

  • Wailea Gold
  • King Kamehameha
  • Manele, if possible(@andy1288: is it possible to play without staying there?)
  • Wild Card (I’m not sure if it’s worth playing the Bay Course @ Kapalua or something else?)

I’m looking at 4 rounds for the 8 days were staying there, hopefully the wife doesn’t kill me!



When I played Manele I thought one had to stay there to play, but since then I’ve heard that’s not the case. Just give them a call and see what they say. Similar to andy1288, one of my all-time golf days. Played 54 in a single day in near isolation and solitude. Was epic.



We were able to play without staying but it might have been a special circumstance. One of the holes was under construction so it was a flat fee for as much golf as you wanted to play in one day.



Heading to Maui and Lanai for my honeymoon in June and planning to play Plantation, Manele and Wailea Gold. Seems to be the consensus for where to play on those two islands but wanted to get thoughts on if there’s another track to sub in. Thoughts?

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Will the Plantation be reopened by then?



Had no idea it was closing but doesn’t look like it. Might as well cancel the wedding at this point.



Some Maui Notes:

I played in Maui this past Dec and got a local tip about Pukalani…also agree it’s worth a play for a taste of upcountry golf. Great price, amazingly friendly locals. Yes the layout and views were not like the Wailea courses, but certainly a fun track. Only place I’ve ever seen a “choose your” green" hole.

Wailea - Emerald
I played Emerald because the Gold greens were being sanded or something. I had an awesome time there. Amazing views. Pure conditions. My rec, like many others is to play it early and be done before the trade winds hit at 2pm.



Plantation course is set to re-open sometime in November / December & Southwest just opened up routes to Hawaii. This companion pass may come in handy!