Traditional golf takes flight with Aero Golf, available at Mauna Kea Golf Course on Hawaii Island. // © 2016 Aero Golf
Feature image (above): FootGolf is a kicky new option at Maui's Kaanapali Golf Courses. // © 2016 Kaanapali Golf/ John Yeadon
Hawaii’s golf courses are world-famous for their compelling layouts and views, but historically, they’ve catered only to players of the game. Now, non-golfers can grace the greens thanks to innovations such as archery- and soccer-style offerings, golf-cart tours and films on the fairways.
Around the islands, courses are injecting the traditional 18-hole experience with fun, new options that appeal to a wider range of visitors. Check out these trendy ways to love the links, with or without a club in hand.
Spring 2015 marked the debut of AeroGolf, an archery-golf hybrid, at Mauna Kea Golf Course on Hawaii Island. It’s played on a regular course, with rules and scoring similar to conventional golf, but for first-timers, it’s much easier to tackle than golf. Clients use a bow to send a safety-tipped arrow soaring toward the green. Players have the option to switch to a putter for the final shot.
Each June, Wailea Golf Club’s 12-acre driving range turns into the ultimate outdoor movie theater during the annual Maui Film Festival. Hundreds of visitors and locals spread out on the lawn under the stars and watch first-run flicks on a giant screen. Celebrity appearances, award ceremonies, hula performances and tours of the evening sky enhance the experience.
In Kaanapali, Maui, non-golfers are kicking up their heels over FootGolf. Combining soccer and golf, the action takes place next to the fairways of the Kaanapali Kai Course. Guests tee off by smacking a soccer ball strategically toward a 21-inch-wide hole, and each hole is assigned a par. A hit with families, birthday celebrations, wedding parties and corporate groups, FootGolf is available daily after 3:30 p.m.
On Kauai’s north shore, Princeville Makai Golf Club’s sunset golf-cart tours follow the course’s pathways through 18 scenic holes. The first stop during the one-hour ride is Makai Grill, where clients fill up their ice chests with drinks. Five more stops provide mountain and ocean views in the late-afternoon light. On Lanai, Manele Golf Course’s 45-minute guided golf-cart tour roves the back nine, with spectacular sunset vistas.
The courses at Mauna Kea, Manele and Princeville have all introduced GolfBoards, a hang-ten style of hole-to-hole transportation. With their surfboard design, GolfBoards let players navigate the greens while looking cool in the process. In addition to GolfBoard rentals, Four Seasons Resort Hualalai on Hawaii Island features guided 45-minute GolfBoard tours of the course and resort grounds, with stops for photos.
Yoga on the Tee
Clients can start their day with sunrise yoga on the oceanfront seventh-hole tee at Princeville Makai. With its panorama of Kauai’s north shore mountains and seas, the yoga class inspires all levels of students. Accompanied by the lull of the waves and songs of seabirds, sessions take full advantage of the healing quality of nature. Check it out on Monday and Wednesday mornings.