Editor’s Note: This guide to Golf in Hawaii was updated April 1, 2019
Golf in Hawaii is a study in variance. At the same time, the island game is littered with awe-inspiring topography–replete with the expected natural beauty–and not-so-subtle dangers from tee to green. Perhaps that’s what makes playing golf on Hawaiian courses so intriguing: You don’t mind the occasional double bogey when you’re in paradise.
Indeed, island golf is both beauty and beast — there’s no way to sugarcoat it. But after spending just a few hours on the islands, you wouldn’t want it any other way. Hawaii’s geographic wonders are incumbent on all sides, instilling the notion that you’re securely entrenched in a land with an undeviated link to earth’s prehistoric past. On several courses, at any moment, you half expect a Tyrannosaurus rex to lumber around the next corner and point its hungry head in your direction. Of course, that won’t happen, but you’ll surely get a little weak in the knees facing the awe-inspiring beauty of courses like Hokuala (formerly Kaua’i Lagoons), Poipu Bay Golf Course or all three course at Kapalua. Whatever the cost (even if it’s a dozen new Pro V1s), summon the courage, do the deed and walk away with a great story to tell all your friends; not that you slayed a T. rex, but that you met the challenge of some of the most scenic golf courses in all the world.
A recent poll of professional golfers showed that Hawaii is their favorite place to visit. And it’s no wonder, with eight of the top 25 resort courses in the country situated amongst the Hawaiian Islands. It’s amazing how the world’s best golf course designers — Jack Nicklaus, Robert Trent Jones, Arnold Palmer — were able to visualize and create courses up, down, and around cliffs, beaches, rolling hills and lava fields.
Of course, any trip to Hawaii wouldn’t be complete without enjoying the encompassing beaches and ocean side resorts. In fact, when it comes to golf, it’s a safe bet that most golf courses are either affiliated with or located in close proximity to a variety of hotels and resorts. For more, visit our Stay and Play section, where you’ll find the best of both worlds.