Updated February 2024 to update booking information.
The islands of Aloha. If you’ve never been to Hawaii or had the chance to play golf there, I feel for you. Not to rub it in, but I’ve spent a decent amount of time on the islands and of course, I’ve played quite a bit of golf.
Golf in the islands is a unique experience to say the least. Not only is the scenery breathtakingly beautiful, you’re required to hit different shots that you’re not accustomed to anywhere else.
As Old Man Winter begins to set in, I find myself yearning for the warm tropical breezes I’ve come to love so much. It’s in that spirit that I decided to conjure up a list of the ten best public golf courses anyone can play. Of course, I asked for the input of our readers as usual.
So, sit back, relax, and see which of these courses sound most appealing to you.
Mauna Kea Golf Course
If you’re a golf enthusiast visiting the Big Island of Hawaii, you’ll want to experience the breathtaking Mauna Kea Golf Course, designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. in 1964. This course is widely regarded as one of the best in Hawaii, offering golfers a challenging and scenic experience.
Carved out of the largest lava fields in the world, the course features emerald green fairways and elevated greens with dramatic undulations. One of the standout holes is the demanding par three on the third hole, where golfers must tee off over the majestic Pacific Ocean.
The panoramic views of the ocean and the Kohala Coast make every round at Mauna Kea a memorable one. The course has also hosted the annual Hawaii State Open, adding to its prestige. Whether you’re a resort guest or a member of the public, playing at Mauna Kea is an experience unlike any other.
Be sure to bring your best golf equipment to tackle the elevation changes and enjoy the challenging yet rewarding layout designed by a golf legend.
The Blue Course at Wailea Golf Club
Nestled on the magnificent island of Maui, the Blue Course at Wailea Golf Club offers golfers a classic old-school design with wide fairways, deep coral sand bunkers, and stunning ocean views. If you’re planning to play here, you’re in for an unforgettable experience.
Here’s what you can expect:
- Wide Fairways: The Blue Course is known for its generous fairways, making it a great option for golfers of all levels.
- Deep Coral Sand Bunkers: The course’s signature feature, deep coral sand bunkers, adds an extra layer of challenge and beauty to the game.
- Stunning Ocean Views: As you make your way through the course, you’ll be treated to breathtaking ocean views, creating a serene and picturesque backdrop for your game.
- Must-Play Course: The Blue Course is part of the Wailea Golf Club, offering its unique challenges, and is highly recommended by golf enthusiasts.
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced golfer, the Blue Course at Wailea Golf Club promises a memorable and enjoyable golfing experience amidst the natural beauty of Maui.
Kapolei Golf Club
Situated on the vibrant island of Oahu, Kapolei Golf Club stands as a premier daily fee course designed by Ted Robinson on the grounds of a former banana plantation. This lush course, formerly home to the LPGA’s Hawaii Open, boasts stunning floral landscaping, and impeccably maintained fairways and has received a stellar 4.5-star rating from Golf Digest. Hosting tournaments on the LPGA Tour and PGA Tour Champions, it has been voted the People’s Choice on Oahu multiple times.
Kapolei Golf Club offers a comprehensive golfing experience with top-notch amenities, including excellent practice facilities and beautiful water hazards. The club is situated on former sugar cane plantation land with vivid floral gardens and lakes, providing golfers with a serene and scenic playing environment. For those seeking an exceptional golfing experience, Kapolei Golf Club should undoubtedly be on their list.
This course has garnered high praise from keen golfers, earning a prominent place among the best public golf courses in Hawaii. Whether you’re a seasoned golfer or a novice looking to experience the beauty of Oahu while playing golf, Kapolei Golf Club offers an unforgettable experience.
The South Course at Mauna Lani Resort
Perched along the unique coastline, The South Course at Mauna Lani Resort offers golf enthusiasts a breathtaking and challenging golfing experience. Designed by the legendary team of Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay, this course is a gem among the many golf courses in Hawaii.
Here’s what makes it special:
- Stunning Coastal Views: The South Course at Mauna Lani Resort offers panoramic Pacific views, creating a stunning backdrop for your game.
- Challenging Layout: The course features a straightforward yet challenging layout that’s often considered the best among the three at the property. It provides a fair test for golfers of all skill levels.
- Memorable Holes: The third hole is a long, demanding par three with a tee shot over the ocean, adding to the course’s allure and creating a truly unforgettable experience.
- Great Amenities: Golfers can enjoy an all-encompassing experience with excellent amenities at The South Course at Mauna Lani Resort, making it an ideal destination for a golfing getaway.
With its stunning coastal views, challenging layout, and excellent amenities, The South Course at Mauna Lani Resort is a must-visit for any golf enthusiast visiting the island of Maui.
The Ocean Course at Hokuala
The Ocean Course at Hokuala, designed by Jack Nicklaus, offers golfers stunning views of the Pacific and a challenging yet colorful layout for an unforgettable golfing experience. As the only Jack Nicklaus design on the island of Kauai, this course is a gem in the Hawaiian golf landscape.
The 16th hole at The Ocean Course at Hokuala stands out as a drivable par four, but presents a tricky pitch if you miss the green. This risk and reward design element adds an exciting dimension to the game. The course’s water features not only provide a beautiful backdrop but also pose strategic challenges, making it a favorite among golf enthusiasts.
Beyond golf, The Ocean Course at Hokuala offers great amenities for a well-rounded experience, including top golf instructors and a setting that has hosted events like the PGA Tour’s Grand Slam of Golf, showcasing its prestige. This course is known for providing an all-encompassing experience with spectacular ocean views and a challenging course design, making it a must-play for golfers visiting Hawaii.
The King’s Course at Waikoloa Beach Golf Club
Nestled on the Big Island of Hawaii, the Kings Course at Waikoloa Beach Golf Club beckons golfers with its stunning ocean views and challenging yet picturesque layout. Here’s why you should add it to your must-play list:
- Breathtaking Scenery: As you make your way through the course, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, enhancing the overall golfing experience.
- Challenging Holes: The course offers a mix of challenging holes that will test your skills, making it an ideal choice for golfers seeking a rewarding game.
- Strategic Bunkers: Designed by Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish, the course features strategically placed bunkers that add an element of excitement to your play.
- Native Hawaiian Flair: The Kings Course at Waikoloa Beach Golf Club incorporates the natural beauty of the island, with lush fairways and a design that pays homage to the native Hawaiian landscape.
This course, a product of the creative minds of industry legends, promises an unforgettable golfing experience. With its combination of stunning views, challenging layout, and native Hawaiian influence, it stands as one of the best values for those seeking to play golf in Hawaii.
Makani Golf Club
Tee off at Makani Golf Club, a public course in Princeville, Hawaii, offering golfers a challenging and scenic experience designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. This course, ranked 8th on the list of best public golf courses in Hawaii for 2023, provides stunning ocean views as you play. It has earned a high rating of 4.2 from 79 panelists, attesting to its quality and appeal.
Designed by the renowned Robert Trent Jones Jr., Makani Golf Club presents a layout that challenges and rewards players of all skill levels. The strategic design incorporates natural elements and breathtaking scenery, making every round a memorable experience. The course’s exquisite beauty and thoughtful design have made it a favorite among locals and visitors alike.
As an affiliate advertising program, Makani Golf Club offers an exceptional golfing destination where you can enjoy the game against the backdrop of Hawaii’s natural splendor. Whether you’re a seasoned golfer or just starting, this course invites you to play amid the captivating landscapes of Princeville. With its emphasis on both challenge and enjoyment, Makani Golf Club stands as a testament to the allure of golf in Hawaii.
Waikoloa Village Golf Club
Discover the picturesque Waikoloa Village Golf Club, nestled along the stunning western shore of the Big Island, offering golfers a challenging and scenic experience designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. Here’s why this course should be on every golfer’s radar:
- Breathtaking Ocean Views: The course features stunning vistas of the Pacific Ocean, providing a serene backdrop for your game.
- Immaculate Fairways: The lush, emerald green fairways are meticulously maintained, adding to the beauty and challenge of the course.
- Strategic Layout: Known for its small greens and strategic layout, the course requires precision and skill from golfers of all levels.
- Public Facilities and Accessibility: Waikoloa Village Golf Club offers public facilities, making it accessible to all golf enthusiasts.
With its captivating setting and challenging design, this course is a must-visit for anyone seeking an unforgettable golfing experience in Hawaii. Whether you’re a casual golfer or a seasoned pro, Waikoloa Village Golf Club promises an exceptional day on the links.
Hapuna Golf Course
The captivating golfing experiences in Hawaii continue at Hapuna Golf Course, where panoramic ocean views and strategically challenging fairways await. Designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., this course offers a unique blend of natural beauty and golfing challenge.
The small greens and strategically placed bunkers add to the challenge, requiring precision and strategic play. Hapuna Golf Course is renowned for its famous 3rd hole, where golfers must tee off over an ocean cove, adding an exhilarating element to the game. The stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and the Kohala Coast create a picturesque backdrop for an unforgettable round of golf.
Hosting the annual Hawaii State Open, the course has garnered attention from professional and amateur golfers alike. The combination of natural beauty, challenging fairways, and the legacy of Robert Trent Jones Sr. make Hapuna Golf Course a must-visit destination for golf enthusiasts seeking an unforgettable golfing experience in Hawaii.
Kahili Golf Course
Nestled amidst the stunning lands of Maui, Kahili Golf Course beckons with its challenging fairways and breathtaking ocean views. This true treasure, one of the best public golf courses in Hawaii, offers a unique and demanding golfing experience.
Here’s what makes Kahili Golf Course a must-visit destination for golf enthusiasts:
- Spectacular Views: The course provides panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and the beautiful landscapes of Maui, creating a picturesque backdrop for your game.
- Challenging Layout: Designed by Robin Nelson and Rodney Wright, the course features strategically placed bunkers, demanding fairways, and small greens that will test your skills and strategic thinking.
- Signature Hole: The stunning 13th hole is a standout feature, requiring a tee shot over a ravine, adding an extra layer of challenge and excitement to your round.
- Legacy of Arnold Palmer: Kahili Golf Course holds the legacy of golf legend Arnold Palmer, making it a unique and prestigious destination for golfers seeking an exceptional golfing experience in Hawaii.
Prepare to be captivated by the beauty of the surroundings and the challenges of the course at Kahili Golf Course.
There’s nothing more I dream about during the cold winter months than playing golf in Hawaii. As temperatures plummet and daylight fades, I yearn to be somewhere in the islands.
While that doesn’t happen every year, I’ve been fortunate enough to play a healthy amount of golf in the Aloha state. It sounds like many of our readers have as well.
If ocean breezes, beautiful scenery, and great golf sound like a tasty recipe to you, you need to get to Hawaii. Thanks as always for reading and let us know your thoughts in the comments.