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Oahu beyond Waialae CC

With the first full-field event being played on the PGA Tour this week at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu, this is a good time to look at what Hawaii's most populated island, Oahu, has to offer in terms of golf.

Waialae Country Club, host of the Sony Open, is private but you can play it with a referral if you're a member of another all-private club. All you have to do is get your director of golf or head pro to send an official letter in advance, which would be well worth it, given the club's history and stature.

Waialae, which was designed by Seth Raynor and Charles Banks, opened in 1927. This classic track survived the Great Depression and World War II, and today it's one of the best golf courses on Oahu with design characteristics borrowed from some of the top venues in the world. Local PGA Tour player Dean Wilson says the fairways are among the hardest to hit on tour. They're narrow, the wind is always blowing off the ocean, and the ground is firm.

But even if you can't get on at Waialae, there are plenty of great options on Oahu, which has more courses than any other Hawaiian island. It's the island with most variety, from one of the world's most difficult courses in Ko'olau Golf Club, to one of the most beautiful settings in the golf courses at Turtle Bay Resort, including the Palmer Course, host of the Hawaii Open and former site the Champions and LPGA Tour events.

Ko'olau is carved out of a rainforest on the side of an ancient volcano, while Turtle Bay Resort sits on the North Shore, one of the best surfing spots in the world. Visitors can also choose from venues such as the 27-hole Arnold Palmer-designed Hawaii Prince Golf Club, the lush paspalum-grassed Ewa Beach Golf Club, Royal Kunia Country Club, which overlooks Pearl Harbor, or any one of another dozen or so courses, including a couple of really good military courses. They're a little spread out, so you'll probably want to rent a car, but well worth the drive.