If the Makai Golf Course is the Empress of Golf, the Prince Course at Princeville is the Emperor.   It is undergoing a major renovation and is scheduled to reopen October of 2011.  We got to tour the course in golf carts with the pro’s overseeing the renovations, Craig T. Nelson, a famous movie star and golf enthusiast, and Mr. Jones, the original architect of the course.  This team gave us the lay of the “new land.”  All the bunkers are being renovated, with upgrades to the tee boxes and holes are being opened wider and updated.

As we toured the course I didn’t know how they could improve on perfection.  This course is magnificent by nature with views from 300 feet above the Pacific Ocean.  You are placed between heaven and earth.  The strategic design by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. is billed to give golfers of all skills a run for their money.  But I could see that this course is not for the weak of heart.  You have to bring your best game to this 18-hole par 72 golf course and then know how to pray. The rolling terrain climbs slopes and careens down hills.  The demanding layout requires you to use your best strategic skills to plan out your shots. 

The 17th Hole of the Prince Course.

The land challenges you to overcome the worst of your golf demons.  The course is designed to reward you with the thrill of overcoming the worst of obstacles.  And just when you think the course has exhausted your best shots, you are deeply rewarded with the most awesome natural waterfall.  It’s the “Prince’s” gift of rejuvenation.  The cascading waters renew  the spirit of “relaxed concentration.” 

Bobby Jones with author, Janice Wilson.

This is why you love the game! 

It’s your lasting reward for playing one of “America’s Top 100 Golf Courses.”

Kaua’i’s numerous charms are further captivated at the Poipu Bay Golf Course, the host of the PGA Grand Slam of Golf from 1994-2006. This spectacular course is located adjacent to the Grand Hyatt Resort and Spa on Kauai's sun-soaked South Shore.  And yes, it’s another masterpiece created by Robert Trent Jones, Jr.,  with 210 acres of ocean front vistas along the rugged Poipu Bay’s coastline.  The course features 85 bunkers, five water hazards with wildly varying trade winds. Distractions abound with the panoramic vistas, with over 30 acres of tropical plants and flowers.

Poipu Bay Golf Course.

I’m an amateur golfer that gets easily distracted by the views, and the scenery.  If not for Chad, my personal pro for the day, I would have meandered the course lost in its utter beauty.  Chad professionally reminded me that this course has a reputation in “making Champions” of us all.  He certainly had his work cut out for him.

I usually “thwack” the ball about 135 yards off the tee.  Sometimes it hits the fairway, sometimes it slices right, once in a while I’ll miff it badly a few feet, it rolls  and sometimes I shank it out to left field.  Chad was thoughtful as he made his way towards me.   With his laid back Hawaiian ways he paused and asked if he could show me something.  He used the “Aloha” spirit in his teaching methods.   He explained that Aloha is not only a greeting, it’s the ability to be  “present to your breath in the moment” .  “Golf has much to do with breathing, as well as the positioning of your body.”  He stated.

He showed me how to take my breath in on the back swing and let it out as I came through the ball and finish high, with my hips rolling towards the target first and the club head following.  He instructed that the hips moving before the club give the golf shot it’s power and control.  And when both hip bones finish facing the target for the ball, you gain greater distance and precision.

He made it seem so easy.  Breathe in...breathe out . . .  be present . . . and use the placement of your hips to ignite your power   I stepped up to the tee box to experiment.  The prevailing trade winds whispered “aloha”.  I gently inhaled with my back swing, and hula’d my hips through the ball.  Releasing my breath as my hip bones swung through the ball, my club head finished high and both hip bones faced forward.   I watched my ball soar for 200 yards and land firmly in the middle of the fairway.  “Ah . . . LO . . . HA!

The course is nestled among the gentle contours of Poipu Bay, and sculpted from a rolling plateau eight stories above the Pacific Ocean. It is bordered by ancient stone walls, and Hawaiian heiau (places of worship). To my delight the first shot wasn’t a fluke! For the rest of the 18 holes, the wild flock of nene geese, Hawaiian monk seals, and green sea turtles all held witness to my “Aloha” swing.

I later learned that these places of worship, heiau, were specifically built on sites deemed to have the most “mana” . . . a spiritual power that emanates from sacred places.  No wonder my game improved so miraculously!

The Grand Hyatt Kaua'i Resort and Spa.

A great golf game can only be surpassed by an amazing Lomilomi massage, a beautiful hotel room at the Grand Hyatt Kaua’i Resort and Spa, a swim in the acre and a half saltwater swimming lagoons and two freshwater outdoor pools with meandering “river pools”,  all followed by succulent dinner fare at their Tide Pools restaurant.

The Lomilomi massage was the highlight of this 4-Diamond Hyatt. It succeeded in soothing every aching muscle that comes from four days of golf.  In this 45,000 square feet of open aired Anara Spa, I discovered lokahi — the healing Hawaiian custom that inspires unity, harmony, and balance.

This custom uses the restorative power of nature to reunite mind, body and spirit as one.  It couples massage with the locally grown herbs and exotic botanicals.  I languished for an hour feeling my mind release from the stress of wanting to always hit that perfect golf shot.  It un-kinked the knots from my neck and back and smoothed out my sore arm muscles.  My spirit felt light and at ease.  But the best part of this inspired treatment was that “lokahi” returns to me whenever I close my eyes and think about it.  Wow!

Not all of Kauai's golf courses have an expensive resort price tag.

The Puakea Golf Course proves to be just as amazing.  It’s a public course as great as the others, with a green fee that encourages you to play more than once.   Visitors can experience a Ho’okipa Special for $79.00 that includes a $25.00 golf rental, warm up balls at their range, complimentary rider/junior. This course is a must on your Kaua’i golf tour.  It has the charm, the intensity, the challenges, and the beauty of all the others with a grace and ambiance that is truly relaxing.   The beauty and expansiveness of the mountains and scenery inspired the film directors of “Jurassic Park” to use it as a set location.  You can almost hear the whine of the dinosaurs in the distance.

The Puakea Golf Course is a public course.
(Pictured is Hole #6.)

The Kiele Moana Nine just reopened the week that I was visiting Kaua’i.  This astonishing and exciting course was redesigned by Jack Nicklaus.  The Tif-Eagle putting surfaces are new, faster, and more consistent.  I had to readjust to the pace, but once I did, they were smooth and fun to play.  The new white silica sand bunkers are beautiful.  But unfortunately I had a few too many occasions to test out how exciting they were to play.  These nine holes are all about the WOW factor!  The first three holes are doglegs into the trade winds.  The strategically placed bunkers are not for wimps.  My bunker expertise grew by leaps and bounds that day.  But it was the multi-tiered greens that challenged all of my hopes for par.  It was all worth it though, because for four unforgettable holes the scenery was the most awesome in Hawaii: the deep blue sparkling water, huge surf crashing into the coastline, rugged Mount Haupu saluting across the water.  It is the most amazing half mile stretch of ocean golf.  It’s the best finishing nine I’ve ever played.

The Kaua'i Lagoons Kiele Moana Course.

The Kauai Lagoons Golf Club is a golfer’s dream.  But if you’ve come with your family and feel guilty about leaving them behind when you play golf, the Kaua'i Marriott Resort is your answer.  It’s  family friendly with a beautiful sheltered beach on Kalapaki Bay, with an array of water activities for everyone. 

They have the largest single level swimming pool on the islands, with an extensive children's pool.  The grounds are heavenly Hawaiian.  The staff goes out of their way to make sure that you have everything you would ever need.  The food at the six restaurants is delectable.  The rooms are charmingly beautiful and cozy.  This golf destination has something for the whole family, so no one will feel left behind!  Everyone gets what they want!  Great golf . . . fabulous shopping . . . any kind of water sports . . .  and a beautiful place to gather and share stories at sunset!

Click photo to book the Kauai Marriott

The family will love the Kaua'i Marriott Resort.

The St. Regis Princeville Resort

Poipu Bay Golf Course

Puakea Golf Course

Kaua ‘i Lagoons Golf Club

Princeville Prince Course

The Grand Hyatt Kaua’i
Resort & Spa

Kaua’i’s Emerald Jewel is a golfer’s dream come true. 

There is no other place in the world where you can learn to master the secret to golf with such beauty, elegance, and championship designs. 

The natural beauty of Kaua’i has worked for 5,000 years to give you the penultimate golf experience landscaped by the genius of golf’s greatest architects.  You’ll learn to listen to the land. 

Breathe the “Aloha” golf swing.  Master the “art of relaxed concentration.” 

Yet, the penultimate experience of Kaua’i’s golf, is that at any moment you can close your eyes and visualize in vivid color your golf game coming alive! 

These emerald jeweled memories are irreplaceably priceless.

— Feature by Janice Wilson, Jetsetters Magazine Golf and Tennis Editor; photos courtesy of the resorts and courses. Special thanks to Buffalo Communications.