The best courses you can play in Hawaii
If Scotland’s sandy-soiled coastline presents the ideal conditions for a golf course, then Hawaii’s idyllic landscape that blends volcanic mountains, beautiful ocean views and incredible wildlife might be the gold standard for course aesthetics. Towering, jagged peaks. Lava outcroppings. Whales breaching in the distance.
Each January, when the PGA Tour kicks off its calendar-year schedule at Kapalua’s Plantation course and the Sony Open at Waialae, we’re reminded of The Aloha State’s unrivaled terrain and visual appeal—equal parts dramatic and tranquil.
Just as each of the major islands has a unique vibe, the golf varies greatly across the state—from Kapalua’s hard-to-fathom elevation changes on the Maui coast to the more understated layouts on the Big Island’s western shores. To help you plan your next Hawaii getaway, we’ve compiled the Best Courses You Can Play in Hawaii, complete with options on five different islands.
Scroll on to read more about each course and be sure to expand each course page to read reviews from our course-ranking panelists. We hope you enjoy our searchable course database, Places to Play, complete with course reviews, experts’ opinions and star ratings.
From Golf Digest Architecture Editor emeritus Ron Whitten: Most golf fans are familiar with Kapalua Golf Club’s Plantation Course, home of the PGA Tour's opening event each year. Located on the north shore of the Hawaiian island of Maui, the Plantation was built from open, windswept pineapple fields on the pronounced slope of a volcano and is irrigated by sprinklers pressured solely by gravity. As the first design collaboration by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, it unveiled their joint admiration for old-style courses. The blind drive on the fourth, the cut-the-corner drives on the fifth and sixth are all based on tee shots found at National Golf Links. So, too, are its punchbowl green and strings of diagonal bunkers. It's also a massive course, built on a huge scale, Coore says, to accommodate the wind and the slope and the fact that it gets mostly resort play.