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 Waikoloa Beach Golf Course.
Waikoloa Golf Resort was my first stop on a recent three-day trip to Hawaii. It is a partner of the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa so I took advantage of the discounted greens fees since I chose to stay at the Marriott.
Find out if the discounted greens fees make it a worthwhile course to play!
Waikoloa Golf Resort is located about 20 minutes north of the Kona International Airport. After a short drive, you find yourself in the heart of golf and resort country with neighboring resorts including the Hilton at Waikoloa Village, the Marriott, Palace Towers, and multiple time shares.
The Golf resort hosts two courses, the Beach Course and the King’s Course. The Beach Course was designed and built in 1981 by Robert Trent Jones II and offers a stunning contrast from the course to the rough and harsh lava flow field which the course is built on.
The Beach Course also offers a stunning 7thhole which runs along the ocean. The King’s Course was designed by Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish.
The course finished construction in 1991 and offers more of a links style of play. While no hole is near the ocean, it offers plenty of scenic views of the Hawaiian landscape.
The Waikoloa Beach Golf Resort offers a wide array of on-site amenities. When you drive up, you will see the clubhouse which has 2 sides to it. One side houses the pro shop which manages to fit a large amount of gear into a small area. The pro shop is packed from top to bottom with branded gear ranging from hats and golf outfits to clubs and travel bags. The other side of the pro shop houses the Mai Grille which is known for its special homemade bacon recipe. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, I was unable to try the bacon however, I heard from multiple staff members as well as locals that the bacon is quite good there.
Rental clubs include Cobra F8 irons and woods.
Outside of the pro shop, you will find a driving range and chipping green. The driving range goes out to about 250 yards and you hit off the grass. The grass was underwatered and dry for the most part but did its job as a hitting surface. The chipping green was fairly accurate with different cuts of grass and the greens rolled relatively similar to what you would find out on the course. The putting green was large and provided a good analog for what to expect out on the course. It was dry early in the morning so it played very true.
The fairways at Waikoloa Beach were very wide and open. In general, the fairways were in very good condition with tightly mowed grass. Ball marks were frequent and there was generally brown or dead spots of grass throughout every fairway. The primary and secondary rough relatively similar in length. Neither proved very formidable to get out of as it was not very thick. The Bermuda grass at the course also will likely give the ball a good lie and rarely does the ball sink down in the grass. The course is built on a lava flow which means that you will quickly find out of bounds if you stray too far from the fairway and rough. If you are lucky to find your ball, it will likely be scratched up from the lava rocks.
Bunkers were generally in decent condition with only a handful of them being very thin on sand and plentiful with rocks. In general, the bunkers did not play very sandy. The seventh hole does live up to the hype. Your tee shot initially looks straight forward at the ocean but it is your second shot where you approach the green that you really see the stunning nature of the hole with palm trees behind the green and the ocean directly behind it. Once on the green, you have a beautiful 360-degree panoramic view of the ocean as well as the magnificence of the island of Hawaii itself.
The greens were the one lacking part of this otherwise great golf course. There was minimal break and minimal undulation through most of the greens. The speed was also relatively consistent across the grass however, there were also many dead and dry patches on the green making for a somewhat inconsistent experience. Ball marks were plentiful and it seemed most people did not fix them. The fringe was also mostly neglected either being too muddy or too dry. The course definitely needs work in this department to refine the grass and improve the experience. The greens were in general large with a large fringe cut around them making it friendly for approaching the green. The greens were soft and played at an average speed (stimp meter 7-8).
The 7th green is a true thing of beauty though. Make sure you take your time on this green to soak up and enjoy the Hawaiian coast and all its beauty.
Overall, the Waikoloa Beach Golf Resort is a good golf course with good amenities. What makes this course is the beautiful location and views of the seventh hole. The striking contrast between the lava flows and the greens of the fairways also offers a beautiful scene. The facilities were overall good offering a wide variety of items to purchase as well as offering a good meal after the round.
The on-course experience could use a little improvement in greens keeping especially the greens. If you are staying at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort, take advantage of the discounted greens fees through booking a special package rate. At this discount price, I feel that the golf course is worth the price. However, at the full rate price and comparing this to Hapuna, Hapuna offers a much greater value and better course conditions.
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