On a recent three-day trip to Hawaii, I tried to fill my time with as much golf as possible. I was able to get in two rounds, one being at Hapuna Golf Course. I considered this course and its famous neighbor, Mauna Kea Golf Course.
After looking at some initial reviews, I figured I’d give Hapuna a chance especially considering it was significantly cheaper than Mauna Kea.
Although this course is signficantly cheaper than Mauna Kea, is it still worth it?
The course is thirty minutes north of Kona International airport and situated around The Westin and Mauna Kea Beach Hotel.
Located along the western coast of the big island of Hawaii, this links style course was designed and built by Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay in 1992. Although it does not run along the ocean, it does give beautiful views of it as it is built into the lava slopes of the dormant volcano, Mauna Kea. The course seamlessly blends into the surrounding Hawaiian landscape with its beautiful fescue lined Bermuda grass fairways and rolling slopes.
Depending on the time of year and weather patterns, you can have beautiful weather with light to no wind or you can end up with heavy trade winds that pound the island and coastline. The weather in general is very comfortable and there is always a possibility to for rain, so be prepared just in case you get stuck in a quick rain shower.
The facilities at Hapuna Golf Course were surprisingly good. After driving in, you’ll find the pro-shop doubles as a gym/clubhouse for the local private housing community. There are lockers and showers available to guests before and after your round. The pro shop is large with plenty of golf supplies including shirts, shorts, hats, clubs, and other branded items to take home as a souvenir after playing.
Rental clubs include brand new Taylormade M4 irons and woods.
The practice facilities were also impressive. After leaving the clubhouse, you will find the driving range on your left with a chipping green and the practice green on your right. The driving range is available for free to those with tee times and is available to anyone for $12 per hour with unlimited balls. The driving range extends to about 250 yards. The driving surface is all grass and is in great condition.
The chipping area also includes a bunker which is realistic to the conditions you see out on the course. The putting green is also large with realistic speeds. I was there in the morning and there was still some dew on the grass so it was slightly slower than the greens on the course which had been dried out from the sun.
The fairways at Hapuna were impressive. You start on the first hole with a rolling fairway that slopes uphill towards the green. It is straightforward and wide open. Nestled along the fairway is the long fescue grass you would come to be familiar with on a links course. The Hawaiian sunrise brought a beautiful golden color to the grass that melded perfectly with the brilliant green of the fairway. The first hole is not a one-off, in fact, it becomes a regular site as you play through the course. Only a couple of fairways had some dry spots that were in need of some re-sodding.
While there are no abutting holes, nearly all the fairways are very wide with a generously short rough before getting into the fescue grass. A handful of holes require more precise tee shots or favor more of a draw.
The rough was well maintained and certainly playable. The Bermuda grass is well kept and gives you a decent lie no matter where the ball landed. The bunkers were also in great condition. Sandy, but not too sandy. There were a couple that played rockier and were dried out but didn’t make it unplayable.
Carpet. That is the word I would use to describe the greens at Hapuna. The greens were very firm and ran fairly quick. There was subtle undulation of the greens with no large hills or elevation change. The subtleness of the greens could easily fool you if you underestimate a putt. Playing pin low is a good strategy since most of the greens run off the run into the fringe or fairway. Green size was average aside from a couple which were longer and narrower. The fringe was tightly mowed and in great condition. Only a few greens on the back had some brown spots which were in need of some work.
Hapuna Golf Course is one you should add to your list. For almost half the price of its neighboring course, Mauna Kea, you get a phenomenal golf experience with fantastic views and exceptional course conditions and facilities.
I will have to go back and play Mauna Kea for the true comparison but I will also find myself returning back to this course to play it again as I immensely enjoyed my time there. To book your next tee time, click here.