Escape the Polar Vortex and Head to Hawai'i
If anything can take the chill off subzero winter cold, it’s a heavy dose of watching HD-broadcasted images of beach-crashing tides, swaying palm trees and sun-kissed fairways. Maybe it’s masochistic, but nothing takes the mind away from a back-yard blizzard like watching PGA Tour players hula-dance their Titleists, Nikes and Callaways on Hawaiʻi’s near-perfect golf courses.
Pictured: Wailea Emerald Course
This week the pros are at venerable Waialae Country Club on the island of Oahu, competing for best-farmer-tan bragging rights and a $5.6 million purse at the Sony Open. The salty, bougainvillea-scented trade winds are almost palatable. More so, the event is a heady motivation to pack the bags and leave behind that polar vortex bite… for at least for a week, maybe two.
But where to go? Here are four of our favorite Hawaiian golf stops:
- On Kauaʻi, Princeville Resort offers eye-candy landscapes, the singular Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed Prince Course – which in 2012 received a dramatic $5 million makeover – and a prickly new 13-acre, par-3 practice facility that’s been dubbed “Mini Prince.”
- Wailea Resort’s riches are mostly hidden among the foothills of Mount Haleakala on Maui, but golfers will uncover its sensational trio of courses: the Gold, Old Blue and awe-inspiring Emerald, which presents thrilling views of Molokini Crater.
- Ihilani Resort & Marina on O‘ahu is celebrated for, well, celebrities. It also shines at fabulous Ko Olina Golf Club, home of the LPGA LOTTE Championship and infamous for fairway-hugging lagoons and palm-frond breaking Kona winds that turn easy par-fours into dreaded “others.”
- Situated on Lānaʻi, the Lodge at Koele offers magical services and facilities, among them a spectacular Greg Norman and Ted Robinson designed mountain course, zipline, tennis, sporting clays, horseback riding, Jeep rides, croquet, lawn bowling, hiking and an array of nearby beach activities.
Pictured: A beautiful Wailea Beach sky
PĀʻIA: A BLAST OF THE PAST
While there are dozens of golf courses worth playing in Hawai’i, there’s no better Big Kahuna experience like a side trip to historic Pa’ia, located on Maui’s north shore along the legendary Hana Highway.
Pāʻia’s environs are famous for two unabashed legacies: surfing and counterculture. The latter reference might be a push, especially for those coming from cannabis-friendly Colorado, but the city limits sign does in fact declare: “Welcome to Pāʻia. Do Not Feed the Hippies.”
On any given day, there might be dozens of wave riders and boogie-boarders braving the breakers off Baldwin State Park. And witnessing a speeding Porsche 911 with a surfboard poking out the roof – as I did – pretty much underscores Pa’ia’s grin-inducing attraction.
Pictured: Historic Pāʻia
Chris Duthie is a 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.