Sign Up for Our Monthly Hawaii Newsletter
In Kaanapali, Maui, clients can step out of their hotel and take an easy stroll to the resort’s two golf courses; no cars are needed.
“We live by the motto ‘Where the World Comes to Play,’” said Sutee Nitakorn, director of golf at Kaanapali Golf Courses (KGC). “Our resort guests have been very loyal throughout the years.”
Still, travelers’ interests are always shifting. In response, KGC is expanding and evolving to remain relevant with clients, including non-golfers, he says.
“We have noticed that visitors are increasingly gravitating toward shared experiences,” Nitakorn said. “More beginner golfers are choosing to play with recreational groups like parties, and families are looking for unique activities that will help them create memories together.”
FootGolf and GolfBoardsAs KGC satisfies traditional markets, it’s also appealing to emerging niches with additions such as FootGolf, a sport for all ages that is reasonably priced.
The area for FootGolf, which is played by kicking a soccer ball from hole to hole, runs adjacent to the Kaanapali Kai course without interfering with everyday golfers. Tees are marked by orange stones, with orange flags next to 21-inch cups.
“We’re the only FootGolf course on Maui and one of just three in Hawaii,” Nitakorn said. “The game has a lot of selling points. It plays twice as fast as a regular round of golf, it’s great exercise, and it doesn’t require golf shoes or collared shirts.”
Offered daily after 3 p.m., FootGolf is attracting many types of travelers.
“During the summer and over the holidays, we get people as young as 4 years old playing with their parents and grandparents,” Nitakorn said. “It’s also perfect for birthdays and for groups seeking distinctive team-building opportunities.”
GolfBoards are another way that KGC is keeping itself top of mind. Guests roll along the greens on the surfboard-style wheels, leaning side to side to make their turns.
Available at KGC since summer 2016, GolfBoards provide a fun, upgraded alternative to golf carts. Although GolfBoards are a growing phenomenon around the islands, KGC is the only course on Maui that offers them.
“GolfBoards give our clients a ‘surf the earth’ experience,” Nitakorn said.
Driving Range Parties and Sunset Cart ToursThis summer, KGC is debuting a series of events called Drive. Designed as a party on the driving range, Drive will be presented on three Fridays, with the first scheduled for June 15 from 5 to 8 p.m.
“Guests will be hitting balls on the range, with target games set up, and the ambiance will be enhanced by live music, drinks and food featuring a prominent Maui chef,” Nitakorn said. The concept takes its inspiration from TopGolf, a global trend where participants hit at targets, then sip, sup and socialize in between plays.
In addition, KGC can organize Drive events for private parties and corporate gatherings, with seating in 10-person lounge areas.
Sunset golf cart tours are also on the horizon for KGC, starting this summer. Clients who book a cart tour can enjoy the beauty of the same fairways where Hawaiian royalty played their version of lawn bowling and where golf legends such as Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus have competed.
“Our overall goal is for guests to savor the aloha of Kaanapali,” Nitakorn said. “Our resort offers the complete Maui experience, with not only one of Hawaii’s top golf facilities, but also with beaches, water activities and outstanding dining at your fingertips.”
Tickets for Drive must be purchased ahead of time by emailing Nitakorn at [email protected]