Golf Hawaii: Lana‘i, Maui and Hualalai
A rugged, cliff-skimming course or a gentle, rolling green? Play both and more at Four Seasons resorts in Hawaii.
More than just the sum of its parts, what makes Hawaii a perennial favourite vacation destination is the individual character of its islands. Each is physically and culturally unique, from pastoral, frozen-in-time Lana‘i to vibrant Maui to rugged, volcanic Big Island. Between them they offer something for every leisure taste, but they do have one thing in common: world-class golf courses, with notable standouts by renowned designers at each Four Seasons resort in Hawaii.
Variety is paramount on Lana‘i, the Pineapple Island, where the Jack Nicklaus–designed Challenge at Manele Bay hugs the shore and runs across the cliffs. The Challenge offers more ocean exposure than any public course in the entire state, for one jaw-dropping vista after another. For this reason, The Challenge is annually rated in the nation’s Top 50 Courses You Can Play by Golf Magazine.
Just a few miles away, but inland and at a much higher altitude, is the mountainous Experience at Koele. Hawaii’s most jungle-like course, it includes a towering waterfall, lush tropical vegetation and more than 20 storeys of rolling elevation changes throughout. The higher altitude, with its cooler weather, allows for bentgrass greens, considered golf’s finest putting surface and otherwise unknown in Hawaii. A radical departure from most island resorts, Four Seasons Resort Lāna‘i, The Lodge at Koele fits this bucolic setting. The state’s largest wooden-framed structure is based on a traditional English manor home and features croquet and lawn bowling, plus a unique 18-hole, all-grass putting course.
Four Seasons Resort Hualālai at Historic Ka‘ūpūlehu is distinctly island-style, with rooms in low-rise bungalows clustered around tropical gardens and ponds filled with colourful fish. Here, the highly rated Jack Nicklaus Signature course is one of a kind, carved through the distinctive black lava fields of the Kona coast. Overlooking the Pacific, the course offers an amazing contrast—lush green grass and the stark black moonscape around it. The striking beauty of the course has made it the choice of the world’s top senior PGA pros in the annual Mitsubishi Championship.
After playing a round, follow the black lava theme back to the Resort for a soak in the Kings Pond, a quarry-like, 15-foot-deep (4.5-metre) swimming “pool” carved from lava and filled with filtered salt water. The pool is home to more than 3,000 fish, including spotted eagle rays. It’s like swimming in an aquarium.
At Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea you’ll find the largest collection of golf courses in the state, with three top courses, two of which were designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. The marquee layout—and the most challenging—is Jones’ acclaimed Gold Course, with fantastic ocean vistas from almost every hole. The coastal par-3 eighth is considered the most breathtaking hole on the island. Wandering across the foothills of volcanic Haleakala, the Blue Course is the most player-friendly, with broad fairways and meticulously groomed flowers and trees, while Jones’ Emerald Course occupies the middle ground in terms of difficulty and also features sweeping ocean views from most holes.
These 54 holes are not the only eye-catching beauty at the Resort. As part of a USD 50 million renovation a couple of years ago, the Resort assembled a comprehensive, curated collection of contemporary Hawaiian art. More than 280 original post-1959 pieces, including paintings, sculptures, ceramics, textiles and artefacts, adorn guest rooms, corridors and lobbies. The Resort is also home to a gallery that features an eclectic range of work by the island’s most talented artists.