A new clubhouse and a nine-hole addition to what was formerly the Mauka nine of the 27-hole Kona Country Club has created a new 18-hole layout called Ali‘i Country Club. In contrast to the Kona Country Club, which features an ocean-front setting and is sheltered from the wind, Ali‘i Country Club rises into the heights above Kona. Views from the course are sweeping and dramatic, but golfers have to contend with hillside lies and more hazards. The new nine was designed by Robin Nelson and Rodney Wright. The first 27 holes were designed by William Bell.

The Robert Trent Jones, Sr.-designed Mauna Kea Golf Course on the Big Island’s Kohala Coast has for years claimed its place as one of the top 100 courses in America. Built out of a lava-rock wasteland in 1964, Mauna Kea leads the golfer from the waterfront—the famous third hole shoots over an inlet—to the heights above the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel where the ocean is almost always in view.

The Hapuna Golf Course is the new 18-hole Arnold Palmer/Ed Seay design at Mauna Kea. Palmer and Seay took a “hands off” approach at Hapuna, preserving the natural kiawe scrub and endangered ilima plant, both of which thrive in this sunny region and give the course its predominant look. Rising 700 feet above sea level, Hapuna has 16 holes which require carry off the tee, as well as particularly strong par-5 holes.

The Mauna Lani Resort features the Francis H. I‘i Brown North and South Courses. The redesigns (from one course to two) were done by Robin Nelson and Rodney Wright. The original Mauna Lani course opened in 1981. Etched from a forbidding moonscape of black lava rock, it was hailed not just as a golf course but as a work of art. The course layouts have a lava-dominated flavor in the landscape and are very popular and enjoyable.

The expansive Waikoloa Resort area offers three golf courses for play. The Waikoloa Beach Course, opened for play in 1981, is a Robert Trent Jones, Jr., design which weaves its way through the lava beds down to the surf and has enough challenge to keep you honest.

Built next to the ocean is the Waikoloa King’s Course, opened in 1990. Designed by Tom Weiskopf and Jay Moorish, the King’s was hailed upon opening as one of the best in Hawai‘i. From the back tees, this will challenge the best professionals, and yet it is eminently playable for resort golfers when played from the regular tees.

Six miles into the foothills from the two oceanfront Waikoloa courses is the Waikoloa Village Golf Club. The elder of the three Waikoloa layouts, the Village course was designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr., and opened for play in 1972. This tract offers an entirely different venue from the Kings’ and the Beach, but it is certainly a beautiful course with its own challenges.

The Wright Company