The American Express

La Quinta, Calif.


Course Rankings

Kapalua (Plantation)

Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii / 7,596 yards, 73 par / Points: 59.9800

Courtesy of Dave Sansom

May 03, 2021

Kapalua (Plantation)

No. 139 on America's Second 100 Greatest Courses
No. 23 on America's 100 Greatest Public Courses

Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw (1991)

Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw developed their bounce-and-roll design philosophy on this property, which had been a series of windswept pineapple fields slanting down the side of a volcano, sloping dramatically towards the ocean. Kapalua has no water hazards, an oddity it shares in common with No. 33 Olympic (Lake), but several deep canyons serve the same purpose. The 663-yard par-5 18th is the longest closing hole on any Golf Digest nationally-ranked course, but it’s easily reachable in two, given its elevation drop and prevailing trade winds behind. Here’s a curious fact: Kapalua (Plantation) is irrigated solely by an eight-mile aqueduct built by Chinese laborers in the early 1900s.

100 Greatest History: Ranked on America's 100 Greatest (2011 through 2014). Ranked on Second 100 Greatest: 2015 to current. Highest: No. 88 (2011-2012). Previous: No. 130.

Panelist comments, Kapalua (Plantation):

"If you could describe a golf course as "eccentric," this might be the best description of Kapalua's Plantation course. Elevation changes create the opportunity for heroic shots and scoring opportunities in the form of drivable moderate length par 4 s and reachable long par 5s. And the views provide a commanding vantage point to plan your attack on the hole. If the golfer can embrace the challenge, formulate a strategy, and execute well planned shots, the round becomes more about shot selection and execution than quirkiness."

"An incredibly interesting piece of property dependent on the prevailing wind to play properly. The Plantation course is carved into an incredibly mountainous landscape relying on the sloping fairways (uphill/downhill and mostly bending to the left) to create a memorable experience. Kapalua takes advantage of it's topography with a unique par 73 layout."

"Coore and Crenshaw's design theory with Kapalua is apparent. Some daunting yardage on the scorecard (1 is a 520 yard par 4) but plays dramatically down hill, down wind much like 17 and 18 (525+ and 650+) these holes also feature wider and more playable fairways. The short 4's and 5 (9) play dramatically uphill (or down and then up) into the prevailing wind."

"Kapalua is a thinking man's golf course. The course has a well balanced mixture of holes that go left and right, into the wind, down wind, and cross wind holes, and several holes with significant elevation changes, both up and down. The steep elevation drop with a volcano type bunker on 6 are distinct features."

"The 17th and 18th with expansive downhill fairways provide for tee shots longer than a golfer may hit anywhere else in their life."

"With only three par 3s you may feel a bit cheated—this was one of my few complaints. For such a beautiful setting with a unique backdrop, you'd think there were some more picturesque par 3s. But there's certainly enough picture-worthy moments to never truly feel short-changed."

Courtesy of Dave Sansom

Courtesy of Dave Sansom

Courtesy of Dave Sansom

Courtesy of Dave Sansom