Banish the Snow and Go to Hawai’i
Pictured above: Ko Olina Golf Club
Spring has officially arrived and, to no one’s surprise, much of Colorado’s high country remains blanketed in snow. That’s great for skiers and ’boarders but abject misery for golfers, making this the perfect time to say “see ya!” to the cold and “aloha!” to the heavenly Hawai’ian island of O’ahu.
Despite its diminutive size—Connecticut is actually nine times bigger—O’ahu packs a serious punch when it comes to premier vacation getaways. Stalwart attractions include vibrant Honolulu, historic Pearl Harbor, monster wave surfing in Waimea Bay, hiking 750-foot Diamond Head Crater and exploring O’ahu’s lush rainforests.
Golf is no less astonishing. There are 40 courses on Hawai’i’s third largest and highest populated island. Most are private, yet there are more than enough public-access facilities to make O’ahu a must-vacation destination.
At the forefront is magnificent Ko’olau Golf Club (pictured above), the Dick Nugent/Jack Tuthill design that until a decade ago boasted a 162 back-tee slope rating and was regarded America’s wickedest golf course. Considerably softened, the 7,310-yard, five-tee track remains coveted for its perfectly manicured fairways, jungle-filled swales, breathtaking Ko’olau Mountain range backdrops, and one of the most demanding and unforgettable finishing holes in the Pacific.
Another favorite is the Arnold Palmer Course (pictured above, formerly The Links at Kuilima), one of two 18-hole layouts at resplendent Turtle Bay Resort. Set on the surf-famous North Shore about an hour’s drive from Waikiki, this 7,218-yard Palmer/Ed Seay creation earns high marks for majestic ocean views, protected wetlands and risk/reward shot values.
Make time to play fan-favorite Ko Olina Golf Club, host venue of the LPGA Tour’s LOTTE Championship (April 13-16, see video below). The 6,815-yard Ted Robinson design is an anchor amenity for five on-property hotels including the new Four Seasons Resort O’ahu, which opens June 1 with 371 lüxe-level rooms, five restaurants, four pools, sand beaches, tennis and a multi-level spa.
Also deserving thumbs-up status is the Pete and Perry Dye-designed Royal Hawaiian Golf Club (formerly Luana Hills CC). Last October the densely forested, 6,200-yard layout unveiled a tee-to-green renovation that offers new drought-tolerant greens and upgraded conditioning that further highlights this heart-thumping, Mount Olomana (pictured below) and Ko’olau Mountains setting.
Chris Duthie is a Durango-based contributor to Colorado AvidGolfer, the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it. It publishes eight issues annually and proudly delivers daily content via www.coloradoavidgolfer.com.