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Sneak Peek at the Big Island's newest golf course: Kohanaiki

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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 22: Peter Senior of Australia walks with his caddie and son Mitch Senior during the final round of the 2015 Australian Masters at Huntingdale Golf Club on November 22, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

KAILUA-KONA, Hawai'i – Kohanaiki, the new luxurious private community and club set along 1.5 miles of majestic shoreline between the Kona International Airport and Kailua-Kona on the dry Kona Coast, is being built to wow millionaires who tend to be impossible to impress.

How do you win over the one-percent crowd? Swimming with a 25-foot whale shark in the Pacific Ocean might help. PGA Tour pros Matt Kuchar and Parker McLachlin, guided by the club’s ocean adventure staff, tweeted out a picture of their experience after a round of golf in January. Kohanaiki hopes to sell future property owners on magical moments like this one, along with five-star service, meals and amenities.

Need a massage? Yoga on the beach? Kohanaiki has an expert on staff ready to please.

"We want to give people a canvas to create their own memories," says Kohanaiki President Joe Root.

Kohanaiki is the Big Island’s sleeping beauty awakening from a really long nap. Rees Jones completed the 7,329-yard course in 2008. An ailing economy kept it from opening until April 2013, when ownership (a partnership between Kennedy Wilson and IHP Capital Partners) revived this grand vision of paradise.

View tee times on the Big Island and throughout Hawaii on GolfNow

Lots range from $750,000 to $6 million. Hale club membership (costing $450,000 with annual dues as well) affords staying 45 nights a year in any of the 12 sprawling Hale residences already built near the $10.5-million home serving as a temporary clubhouse. These cozy homes, one-to-four bedrooms large, come equipped with full kitchens, spacious patios and heavenly outdoor showers. The beach club’s open-air restaurant, bars and adults-only pool cuddles up to a private beach. A family-friendly Ohana Pool and Event Lawn (along with two tennis courts) sit inland.

Construction on a 62,000-square-foot clubhouse – to include a bowling alley, movie theater, restaurant, spa, game room, fitness area and men’s and women’s lockers – will begin in March.


Only property owners and Hale club members can play golf, although there is limited public access on Mondays. Hawaii residents with a valid driver’s license can play for $275.

The course shares a sensitive environment near the shore. Roughly 200 anchialine ponds separate six dazzling oceanfront holes from the beach, beginning with the scenic par-5 12th hole. These daunting pond pits, framed by black lava rock, were historically used by Hawaiians to raise fish and shrimp. They impact two striking par 3s (holes 13 and 16) and two demanding par 4s (holes 14 and 15).

Comfort stations at the sixth and 13th holes encourage golfers to relax on outdoor rocking chairs and savor the free gourmet snacks, lunch treats and drinks they collect inside. There's no need to hurry when you have the course to yourself.

"I get a lot of 'wows' from people (during rounds),” says Director of Golf Marty Keiter. "When they get to the 12th hole, it’s a 'wow.' When they see the comfort stations, it’s a 'wow.' That’s fun. Hawaii is a magical place."

More: Deegan's Trip Dispatch from the Big Island's Kona-Kohala Coast