Say “golf in Hawaii” to someone who plays and what comes to mind?
“What I tell people who come to Makalei to golf is that our course offers a true Hawaiian feel, a jungle course and ocean views on a beautiful and lush mountainside,” says new General Manager Tim Ennis. “For that reason, my advice is to just soak in the entire experience and worry about your handicap another day.”
That’s good advice because Makalei Golf Club is both challenging and breathtaking. “We’ve already started to improve the playability by beginning to remove the invasive Silver Oaks,” says Ennis, “which simultaneously block some of the magnificent views and make the course a little more interesting. Their removal is ongoing and expected to be cleared within the next few years.”
Opened in 1992 the Dick Nugent designed course is unique in several ways. For starters, the elevation allows for almost constant views of the ocean below, and in some places, views of Maui. And since it traverses the Kona foothills, the elevation change on the course exceeds 1,000 feet!
“One of the biggest surprises when I got here is the distance from the clubhouse to the first tee,” says Ennis. “It’s a bit of a drive in our golf carts. I’d never seen anything quite like that. But that just adds to the experience. The drive to the first tee is just an introduction to the amazing scenery our visitors get to drink in for the entire round.”
The Makalei experience is also one of seclusion. There are no roads nearby and no traffic noise. “It’s incredibly peaceful up here,” says Ennis, “and you’re likely to encounter peacocks, Nene Geese, yellow finch and wild turkey on the course. It’s not just a great golf course. It’s a nature lover’s paradise.”
Part of improved playability is course condition. “Our new Course Superintendant Nolan Johnson started with us in February and has already made a huge difference, most notably in our bent grass greens,” says Ennis. “We’ve received so many compliments on the improved green conditions, and we haven’t even received our new equipment yet!
Based on the sheer beauty of Makalei, one will be surprised that it offers one of the lowest green fees to visitors on the island. Morning tee times are only $99 including golf cart, and afternoons and twilight rates drop to $79 and $59 respectively. “I recommend morning golf,” says Ennis, “because the weather is perfect in the morning. Afternoons we are prone to showers, but mornings are almost always clear, beautiful and cool.”
Need clubs? No problem. Makalei rents SRixon Z Series models and there is a driving range and practice putting green to get warmed up and acclimated to the new clubs. Adds Ennis: “Our driving range has the best view of any in the world in my opinion. Sitting several hundred feet in elevation above the clubhouse, it has panoramic views of the ocean for miles, all the way to Maui.”
For tee times go to makalei.com or call (808) 325-6625.