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Wailea Resort head golf professional Rusty Hathaway has played a lot of courses in a lot of places, but he always returns thinking, “Maui no ka oi” (Maui is the best).
The Wailea Gold golf course is a “pure golf” experience. // (C) 2010 Ray Mains/Wailea Golf Club
Playing to the SouthDuffers and drivers craving maximum time on Maui’s greens might want to start at Wailea Golf Club, notable for its three 18-hole courses.“We have the best golf weather of any destination in Hawaii, typically sunny and warm with mild breezes,” said Hathaway. “The design and location of our courses translate into sweeping views of the ocean, islands and mountains from virtually every hole.”The Wailea Gold and Emerald courses are what Hathaway calls “pure golf” experiences, with no homes or buildings overlooking the fairways. The Blue, meanwhile, is a classic resort course and the first development ever built in Wailea. Thanks to the club’s new golf rehabilitation therapy service, clients can wrap up a day of play with massages, assisted stretching and other restorative treatments.Just a short drive south of Wailea awaits the 18-hole Makena Golf Course, designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. Situated on 1,800 acres, it runs along the coastline and provides stunning views from nearly every hole. With a new management company, Benchmark Hospitality International, appointed in 2009, the Makena course has the same charm as always but promises a lot of new energy, according to its golf director Erik Johnson.“For many years, residents and frequent visitors have regarded Makena as the best pure golf experience on Maui,” said Johnson. “Ancient Hawaiian rock walls, natural gullies and stream beds have been incorporated into the course’s design. It’s a must-play on Maui.”
Action to the NorthTo the north of the island awaits the renovated Kaanapali Golf Resort, which recently hosted the 2010 Wendy’s Champions Skins Game, drawing legends like Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Fred Couples. Along with ocean views and tees for all skill levels, its two courses — the Royal Kaanapali and Kaanapali Kai — provide clients with history lessons, said Kaanapali head golf pro Sutee Nitakorn.“Hawaiian royalty actually played a form of lawn bowling on the land that is now our golf course,” Nitakorn said. “We have labeled each hole with a Hawaiian word signifying a story, name or place in the resort. Our guests can experience the culture, as well as tournament history, of the destination, something you won’t find at other golf resorts.”Farther up the road, clients can follow in the footsteps of the pros by playing the Plantation and Bay courses of Kapalua Resort. The PGA Tour’s season-opening SBS Championships take place here each January. Kapalua director of golf Mike Jones thinks the scenery alone makes his courses worth a visit.“Coming down the fairways of the Plantation Course, the views of Molokai in front of you and Lanai to the left are like nothing else in the world,” he said. “Then, down along the ocean on the Bay Course, you can look out at the waves crashing against the rocks. Number 5 is the only hole on Maui where you have to hit your tee shot across a corner of the ocean. It’s spectacular.”
Fairmont Kea Lani MauiWailea Golf and Spa Package Includes: Two rounds of golf, daily buffet breakfast, transportation to and from Wailea Golf Club, two 50-minute spa treatments, three-course dinner Rates: From $629 per night Contact: 866-540-4456, www.fairmont.comHoolei at Grand Wailea Maui Foursome and More Luxury Villas PackageIncludes: Grocery-stocked refrigerator upon arrival, choice of spa pampering or one round of golf per person, three-course group dinnerRates: From $1,395 per person for five nights Contact: 877-346-6534, www.hooleiatgrandwailea.comKaanapali Alii Golfer’s HeavenIncludes: Two rounds of unlimited same-day golf, kids play freeRates: From $356 per nightContact: 866-664-6410, www.kaanapalialii.comKapalua Villas Golf and Spa PackageIncludes: Daily choice of unlimited golf, one-hour golf lesson or 50-minute massageRates: From $519 per nightContact: 800-545-0018, www.kapaluavillas.comMakena Beach and Golf ResortDaily Unlimited Golf ChallengeIncludes: One day of unlimited golf with cart, $50 per day for non-golfer resort activitiesRates: From $299 per nightContact: 800-321-6284, www.makenaresortmaui.comThe Ritz-Carlton KapaluaGolf and Spa PackageIncludes: One round of golf daily, $150 daily spa credit, buffet breakfast for two Rates: From $749 per nightContact: 800-262-8440, www.ritzcarlton.comSheraton Maui Resort and SpaSunsational Golf PackageIncludes: Four rounds of golf per stay, rental clubs, breakfast for twoRates: From $1,633 for five nightsContact: 866-716-8109, www.sheraton-maui.comWailea Beach Marriott Resort and Spa World Class Golf PackageIncludes: Two rounds of golf, rental clubs, buffet breakfast for two Rates: From $399 per nightContact: 800-228-9290, www.waileamarriott.com