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Makaha Resort and Golf Club (West Course)
Designer William Bell carved out 18 holes in Makaha Valley that does no harm to the natural landscape that was once the playground of Hawaii’s royals centuries ago. There are numerous beaches nearby along Oahu’s left coast that can be seen from the Oceanview restaurant and lounge located on the resort. Only 40 miles from Honolulu, you’ll feel like you’re in another world.
Koolau Golf Club
Another relative newcomer, this course designed by Dick Nugent in 1992 was plopped down in the middle of a rain forest. It’s located at the feet of the Koolau Mountain range that cuts through the center of Oahu. It can make you cry from the tips with a slope rating of 152, but the surrounding beauty of mountain waterfalls eases the pain. Kailua beach, often visited by Barack Obama, is a quick 8 miles away. The windward community offers a variety of restaurant choices.
Waialae Country Club
Home of the Sony Open, you’ll need a member to play this relatively flat course designed by Seth Raynor in 1927. This is a deceiving layout, particularly when the tradewinds kick up. There is a wonderful restaurant at the Waialae Country Club that offers views of the Pacific that are stunning at sunset. Waikiki is only 10 minutes away and the surrounding Kahala community — including the elegant Mandarin Hotel — gives the visitor a feeling of old Hawaii.
Ko Olina Golf Club
A new kid on the block, Ko Olina designer Ted Robinson had fun with this layout. Not located at the most scenic spot in Oahu, the 6,867-yard course is still Michelle Wie’s home course and was the site of an LPGA Tour event for three years. The J.W. Marriott Ihilani Resort and Spa is a short drive from the course and is home to the Pro Bowl players with secluded beaches and breathtaking views of the Pacific, particularly at sunset. One of Roy’s famed restaurants is only minutes away in Kapolei.
Turtle Bay Resort (Palmer Course)
Located at the northern tip of Oahu, the Arnold Palmer-designed layout has been home to Champions Tour and U.S. Open qualifying events alike. It’s challenging, especially if the tradewinds are blowing, without costing you a lot of golf balls. Turtle Bay Resort offers two courses, horseback riding, hiking and a wonderful stretch of wind-swept beach. The TV show ‘Lost’ is filmed nearby and it’s only a 10-minute drive to Pipeline Beach, Sunset Beach and Waimea Bay located along the north shore. Haleiewa is 15 miles away where restaurants and surf shops abound.
Paul Arnett is the sports editor of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. He covers professional golf during the Aloha Season in Hawaii.