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Tip: This town is best known for hosting the annual Merrie Monarch Festival.
Golf on the Big IslandIf you came to the Big Island to golf, you did the right thing.
There’s a course or three for anyone with a bag and a pocket of balls. Play ranges from championship resort courses to unique upcountry links and homey municipal clubs. You can tee off from the top of a volcano or challenge the famed third hole at the Mauna Kea Resort.
Whether you prefer to play in a cool, misty climate reminiscent of Scotland or so close to the Pacific that you have to wipe the salt spray off your clubs, there’s a course for you. Each has a distinct design and personality suited to the challenges of an avid golfer or an eager wannabe.
Here’s a brief overview: Sunny South Kohala is home to several fine golf resorts. Hapuna Golf Course, at Mauna Kea Resort, has been ranked by Golf Digest as one of the best golf resorts in North America. A few miles south are the Mauna Lani North and South courses. This green oasis carved out of black lava is one of the most visually stunning golf layouts in the world. Another lava desert “crunched” into soft velvety greens is home to two outstanding twin courses at the Waikoloa Resort, the Beach Course and the King’s Course.
Hualalai Golf Club at the Four Seasons Resort hosts the prestigious Senior PGA Tour MasterCard Championship in January. The course is private for resort guests or by invitation only. In the heart of Kona, you can literally play from the mountains to the sea at the Kona Country Club in Keauhou. The Club has two 18-hole courses.
The Big Island has several upland golf courses. The Big Island Country Club is located 30 minutes from Waikoloa and Kona. Near Waimea, the course is a pleasant upcountry drive along Hwy. 190. Makalei Golf Club is 2,500 feet up the slopes of Hualalai Mountain above the Keahole-Kona airport in a magnificent ʻohiʻa forest. The Waikoloa Village Golf Course is six miles up the hill from the Kohala Coast. The Waimea Country Club is another upcountry course.
The 18-hole Hilo Municipal Golf Course (“the muni”) is an institution for residents of this unique and often rain-washed town. The Naniloa Country Club, in the heart of the Banyon Drive area, is a cute little 9-hole course. The Hamakua Country Club in Honokaʻa is also a 9-hole course. Volcano Golf & Country Club is one of the only courses in the world built on a live volcano. Sea Mountain Golf Course is located close to the southern point of the island.