Have you been wanting to play Hawaii’s Best Public Golf Courses. You know the ones I am talking about, the muni’s or public run tracks, not the resort courses or semi-private courses that most of us already know about. Yes, Hawaii has some great public courses that the locals play, and to tell you the truth, after I did some additional research, I found that there are more than I thought.
When I got the call from one of my regulars asking whether I knew what Hawaii’s best public municipal golf courses were. I had to tell him that it had been awhile since I played just the locals courses due to my not going to Hawaii for “just golf”. I could only tell him that I would make some calls to old friends, and also do some research to find some courses on each island. What you will find below may be subject to much debate, but I figured I would have to stick my neck out anyway…..so here goes…..and remember to make your tee times way early…..
On Oahu there are two that kept coming up, plus I played one long ago and remembered it fondly.
The Pali Golf Course in Kaneohe is a windward side favorite. I played this course 10 to 15 years ago and enjoyed it immensely due to some challenging holes, and the great views. There are some good climbs, so some may want to rent a cart which puts the cost back into the realm of a resort course.
The next course, The West Loch Golf Course, is a newer layout in The Ewa Beach Area. I have a friend that plays this a time or two every month and likes the variety that it has. He says there are real doglegs for the normal hitters to navigate, and quite a few water features that also come into play. Again, as a muni, the cost is great, but there are not a lot of the amenities that you get on a resort course.
On Hawaii’s Big Island, there is only one muni.
The Hilo Municipal Golf Course is a pretty good layout. The big thing here is maintenance, when I called over to find out about the course they said they had been “catching up” on some of the problem areas, but that the busy course was in pretty good shape. I was unable to really get a sense of this course as I don’t have any golfing buddies that head over to this side of the island to play golf. Another decent golf course on this side is The Volcano Golf & Country Club, which sits about a mile away from the crater and has some great views….again, I have not played this course, but I know that it is very reasonably priced.
I think a fairly priced golf course up on the North side of the island is The Waikoloa Village Golf Course. This course sits up mauka from the Waikoloa resort area and is actually has some pretty stunning views. The course has plenty of interesting holes, and stretches out to 6900 yards for the long hitters.
Kauai is another island with only one municipal golf course. The Wailua Golf Course has long been a favorite for those that don’t want to pay resort fees to hit the ball around. This course is well maintained, has lots of great holes, and can stretch out for the long hitters. In addition to being reasonably priced, it is centrally located so it’s pretty easy to get here from the north or south end of the island. They have been having a problem with keeping the restaurant open here, so just remember to bring your own snacks and beverages.
Another reasonably priced course on Kauai is the Puakea Golf Course, which is also on the east side of the island. This course started out as an unfinished 10 hole course that Robin Nelson finished in 2003. My buddy Jake played it as a 10 hole course and loved it. Within a year of when it was finished, my buddy John went over from Oahu and played it along with a nameless high end course. He liked Pukea better……he said it was interesting because it was difficult in spots, easy in others, and just plain fun to play. I often see them running specials at this course, and their twilight rate starts early enough so you have plenty of time to get your 18 in.
The last major island, Maui, again has only one muni. The Waiehu Golf Course. This course is a stunner for the views and the location, and the course is a great little test of your game. They have always had problems keeping it up because it does get a lot of local play. This is one that you want to make sure that the fairways and greens are in acceptable condition before you spend the money. I suggest you call them first and then if you are on that side of the island, go check it out first.
There is a reason I caution you about this Maui muni is because you have at least 2 good reasonably priced alternatives for your golf. The first one is up mauka on the side of Haleakala. The Pukalani Country Club has been a favorite among locals for quite awhile. Although it is situated in a housing development, you often don’t feel as if that is where you are at. The prices are reasonable, they often have visitor specials, the course has great views, and is a good test of golf. This is one of those fun rounds where you wonder why you never did it before.
The second course is the often overlooked, but still a good course, The Elleair Maui Golf Club. I played this course a couple years back with my Dad and was pleasantly surprised. After playing all the big resort courses on Maui, I did not know what to expect here. This course has got some really interesting holes on it, with my favorites being the 6th on the front, and the 15th on the back. Again, this course is a lot better than most munis, but yet retains that feel. They have plenty of specials running all the time, so check out their website, and also the standard discount tee time websites for ongoing deals.
As is always the case for me at least, I wish there was more time to play more courses when in the islands. I look forward to my next pure golf trip with the boys so we can play 2 rounds a day and check out all the great courses available on each island.
Hit em straight, and enjoy Hawaii’s Best Public Golf Courses.
A hui ho…
Seattle to Hawaii Vacation Consultant