Tee it High, Let it Fly: Golfing on the Big Island
If you’re a golfer, then you pretty much HAVE to golf while you’re here. If you totally get that, then you need to read on because we’re going to give you three great golf options on the Kona side that welcome visiting slicers, hackers and golf pros with friendly rates and aloha service.
Makani Golf Club
Makani is the Hawaiian word for “wind.” But when you first take in the 150 acres off Māmalohoa Highway near the turnoff from Saddle Road, you could be excused for thinking it means “spectacular views.”
Indeed, when one drives into Makani Golf Club, the first view is of its signature 17th hole, a par-3 with an island green that architect Perry Dye modeled after the legendary 17th at TPC Sawgrass, known as the “most terrifying tee shot in golf.” Looking at this hole from the drive in is anything but terrifying, however. On a clear day, like the one my playing partner Dave and I experienced, one can see all the way to Maui.The best part of the golf course is the land,” says Rose. “Almost every hole has jaw-dropping views of the mountains or the ocean. We’re at a 3,000-foot elevation so the vistas are truly amazing.”
What makes Makani Golf Club even more of a “must play” for the visitor is the value. Until 8 a.m. and after 10 a.m., rates are never higher than $99 and include cart, range balls and bottled water. Afternoon golfers can tee off after 1 p.m. for only $75. New Titleist rental clubs are only $45.
Makalei Golf Club
Makalei Golf Club is a breathtakingly beautiful golf course on the western slopes of Hualalai Mountain on Hawai‘i Island. Designed by Dick Nugent & Associates, the course reflects the raw, natural beauty of the island, incorporating native forests, mountain slopes and unique volcanic features such as lava tubes and cinder cones. It is some of the finest in Kona golf.
“Makalei has the best overall vistas of any course on the Kailua side,” says This Week Big Island General Manager Ed Chung. “And it has bent grass greens, which is unusual for Hawai‘i.”
Makalei offers challenging play for golfers of all levels, with multiple tees that can extend the course from 5,242 yards to a championship length of 7,091 yards.
Waikoloa Village Golf Course
The Robert Trent Jones Jr. designed Waikoloa Village Golf Course features generous fairways and well-guarded greens. “The layout is excellent,” says Chung. “Robert Trent Jones is a great golf architect. This is a course you can play every day.” Located at approximately 1,000 feet of elevation, golfers are treated to views of five volcanoes and the Kohala coastline. The second oldest golf course on the Big Island and a local favorite, Waikoloa Village Golf Course is situated in an arid location, which virtually assures good playing conditions 365 days each year. “If you play at twilight and are able to catch the sunset view on hole number 11, it’ll make your whole trip!” says Tom Wade, general manager.
[A version of this article appears in print in the pages of This Week Big Island]
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