Best Golf in Hawaii Kauai

By Brandon TuckerJanuary 18, 2011, 8:51 pm
makai golf kauai
               No. 7 at Makai Golf Club is as visually stunning as it is challenging. (Makai Golf Club)

When it comes to golf in Hawaii you can’t go wrong with any of the four main islands – Maui, Oahu, Kauai and the Big Island. In fact, each island has such great golf that you could argue any one of them is best of the bunch. Former host of the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, Kauai has Hawaii's highest concentration of amazing golf. Here's why it's arguably No. 1.
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Of the four main islands of Hawaii, Kauai is the smallest and has the fewest golf courses.

So why should it be considered your best choice for a Hawaii golf vacation?

For what Kauai offers, it delivers in aces: a secluded island escape full of natural wonders like Waimea Canyon and the Napali Coast. Its treasures and backdrops are the darling of Hollywood site scouts, and the golf courses on Kaui make the most of their most unique environments.

In the eyes of professional golf, Kauai is the forgotten island, at least for the time being. Maui hosts the PGA Tour's Hyundai Tournament of Champions, Oahu hosts the Sony Open and the Big Island has the Champions Tour's Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai.

Kauai hosted the PGA Grand Slam of Golf before it moved to Bermuda in 2006. It's difficult to believe Kauai would ever have the amount of beds and infrastructure needed to host an event as big as the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, and that's exactly the appeal to both residents and those who pick Kauai over Hawaii's busier islands.

The island doesn't boast much nightlife like Waikiki or even Maui's much smaller Kihei, and there are exactly zero high-rise buildings lining the beaches, as strict codes allow virtually no buildings to be built above the palm trees.

And while you can count all the island's golf courses on your hand, nearly all of them are eligible of becoming your personal favorite. Most, along with the many luxury hotel properties, have also gone through extensive upgrades in recent years. So there's never been a better time to tee it up on Kauai.

Travel Caddie blog has progress reports on several golf course renovations on Kauai.

It's difficult to pinpoint Kauai's 'best' course, because each fit a niche.

Along Kauai's south shore is Poipu Bay Golf Course, which is perhaps the most recognizable golf course on the island because it hosted the PGA Grand Slam of Golf for 13 years. It's impossible to forget the cliff views on holes 15-17, while the remainder of the course boasts historic lava rock walls and virtually no homes or development in sight.

Poipu's best days may be ahead of us, too, now that the greens have been reseeded with a faster paspalum turf, and the adjacent Grand Hyatt Hotel has renovated each of its guest rooms.

Poipu Bay was host to Phil Mickelson's 59 in the Grand Slam in 2004, but it's safe to say no pro could ever score that low on Kauai's toughest course, the Prince Course at Princeville Hanelei Bay. Set on the dramatic north shore, the Prince is as bold of a golf course as there is on earth. It's tough, gorgeous, and set on severe, mountainous jungle terrain.

The shiniest new course of Kauai's bunch is next door at the Makai Golf Club at St. Regis Princeville. The course originally opened in 1971, but when Starwood chose to upgrade the Princeville resort to a St. Regis in 2007, they decided the property needed a golf course suitable to the luxury brand. The result was an entirely rebuilt and enhanced course at the hands of the original architect (and Princeville resident), Robert Trent Jones Jr. The rehab made every hole better, especially the holes on the ocean. Like Poipu Bay, Makai now features Paspalum greens.

With Poipu Bay and the Makai Golf Club freshly built, Kauai Lagoons Golf Club will be the last of Kauai's resort courses to emerge with a brand new look. Originally a 36-hole Jack Nicklaus facility, some economic issues resulted in the closure of 18 holes and later just nine holes, plus renovations of others. They've opened up the infamous closing stretch, including a short par-4 16th hole that plays entirely along the cliffs. And when the remainder of the course reopens, it will have the longest oceanfront stretch in Hawaii.

But Kauai isn't all resort golf. The island's daily fees are remarkable in their own right.

Bargain hunters will call Wailua Golf Course their pick. Many Kauai natives call this Hawaii's best municipal course. Just a few minutes from the heart of Lihue, many holes play right along the ocean. Wailua is a stern enough test to have once hosted the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship. These days it serves as the workhorse for the island's locals, as well as the occasional curious visitor passing by on the coastal road from Lihue to Princeville.  

Lastly, there is the course that has wedged itself between municipal Wailua and the resort course of Kauai Lagoons, both geographically and stylistically: Puakea Golf Course. This bargain daily-fee's pro shop and restaurant is set in a double-wide trailer, and the first few holes play alongside the town. But by the back nine, playing in open land beside the mountains, you'll think you're long gone from civilization. It's pretty easy to break away from any trace of development on the Garden Isle.
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Watch: Daly makes birdie from 18-foot-deep bunker

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 11:14 pm

John Daly on Friday somehow got up and down for birdie from the deepest bunker on the PGA Tour.

The sand to the left of the green on the 16th hole at the Stadium Course at PGA West sits 18 feet below the surface of the green.

That proved no problem for Daly, who cleared the lip three times taller than he is and then rolled in a 26-footer.

He fared just slightly better than former Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill.

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Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

“I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

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Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.

Made Cut

Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

September can’t get here quick enough.

Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

“I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

“My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.

Missed Cut

Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

Tweet of the week:

It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.