Kauai Golf Comes To The Fore

Kauai makes a play for golfers with joint marketing and upgraded greens By: Marty Wentzel
Puakea Golf Course is on Golf Magazine’s list of Best Courses You Can Play. // © 2011 Puakea Golf Course
Puakea Golf Course is on Golf Magazine’s list of Best Courses You Can Play. // © 2011 Puakea Golf Course

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Kauai Visitors Bureau

When people do a Web search for Kauai, the first word they pair it with is "weather." The second is "golf." That fact drives home the impact of the Kauai Visitors Bureau's (KVB) golf marketing campaign, which has scored a hole-in-one since it was launched six years ago. Called Kauai: Discover Golf's Ultimate Island Green, the year-round initiative is comprised of five courses and three resorts working together to put the island on every golfer's must-visit list.

Thanks to Kauai's many environmental blessings and outdoor activities, the marketing push for golf has been a natural, said KVB executive director Sue Kanoho.

"Few golf destinations have such a collection of world-class courses so close together," Kanoho said. "We are an intimate less-developed island, so it provides golf aficionados with a very special destination."

Kanoho cited Kauai's value as a drawing card for golfers.

"While not inexpensive, the island provides golfers with everything they want and more: outstanding courses, an array of accommodation choices, excellent resorts and beaches rated by discerning travelers as among the world's best," she said.

And then there are the views from the courses that are so incredible that they can verge on distracting, said Kanoho.
"I've been fortunate enough to see whales breach from the Kauai Lagoons course," she said. "Equally amazing: standing on the back nine at the Poipu Bay course at sunset, looking at the turquoise Pacific while white clouds stream by on the tradewinds."

Perhaps the biggest testament to Kauai's status as a golf getaway was the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, which took place at Poipu Bay from 1994-2006. Each year, the widely watched, televised event showcased Kauai's links as four winners of the year's major championships went head-to-head for two days.

As Kauai's golf marketing initiative continues in 2011, its five courses -- Kauai Lagoons, Poipu Bay, Puakea and the Makai and Prince courses at Princeville Resort -- have plenty of news to share.

At the Jack Nicklaus-designed Kauai Lagoons, renovations are set to be completed in May, but 18 out of 36 holes are currently in play. When clients play two or more rounds during their stay, Kauai Lagoons is offering a reduced rate of $85 per player and a $25 club rental fee for second or subsequent rounds. A discount card called Hana Hou (to do again) is provided upon check-in and can be used for up to one week. Golfers who stay at the adjacent Kauai Marriott Resort on Kalapaki Beach can enjoy the results of its recent $50 million renovation.

In news from Poipu Bay, the oceanside course reopened in December 2010 following a nine-month greens refurbishment program that included the installation of eco-friendly seashore paspalum greens. Meanwhile, the adjoining Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa is wrapping up a $45 million room renovation, slated for completion in April.

Puakea Golf Course recently made Golf Magazine's list of the 2010 Best Courses You Can Play. Puakea continues to be a favorite of island residents and visitors thanks to its award-winning design by Robin Nelson, who considered closely the natural layout of the land as he planned the course. It tests golfers of all levels and treats them to beautiful views of Mount Haupu and lush ravines on several holes.

At Princeville Resort, the Prince Course is currently closed for a five-month renovation although its golf shop and restaurant remain open during the project. Clients can test out the upgraded course beginning this summer. Meanwhile, Princeville's Makai course just went through an extensive overhaul before reopening in January of last year.

St. Regis Princeville Resort guests who plan to spend quality time on the greens can save money with the $399 Makai Golf Pass, allowing them to play the Makai three times. Additional action can be purchased on the card for $133 per round. Also, juniors ages 6-15 can golf for free with no restrictions when playing with a paid adult.

Kanoho likes the fact that the golf marketing initiative is putting the island in the news regularly while helping the island increase its number of followers on Twitter and Facebook. KVB is placing ads with a golf message in both print and electronic format, providing golf information online and highlighting golf during travel trade events.

"I invite agents to come to Kauai and see the incredible natural beauty of our courses firsthand," she said. "When they play each of our courses, they will know exactly how to sell that experience to their clients."

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