Photo: Evan Schiller /

Pacific Panoramas

Oct. 3 2018, Published 2:21 p.m. ET

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Wailea Golf Club

Photo: Evan Schiller /

Make the time, save the money, book the flight and savor views like these.


wailea golf club is located right in the heart of the Hawaiian islands, on the southwest coast of Maui. As golfers absorb the vast Pacific panorama from Wailea’s three championship golf courses, the small island of Lanai is clearly visible to the northwest and the even smaller Kaho’olawe to the southwest, and beyond that lies the full, uninterrupted expanse of the world’s largest ocean as the Pacific heads down towards Australasia.

It’s not just great, immaculate golf courses and vacations that Wailea and Maui have to offer, it is an overwhelming sense of space, of freedom, peace and of the enduring beauty of nature.

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Wailea provides the perfect antidote to a life of hustle and bustle.

Perhaps the “No cell phone” rule is golf’s greatest gift—even if people break it with increasing regularity today—and you can appreciate it fully on the Gold, Blue and Emerald courses of Wailea. Lined with palm trees and edged evocatively by dark volcanic rock, with a background of the deep blue hues of the Pacific, frequent elevation changes ensure a golfing adventure is full of delightful surprise and beauty in equal measure.

The King Kamehameha Golf Club

Photo: The King Kamehameha G.C. / Bob Bangerter


king kamehameha gently tips golfers down the slopes of the Central Maui Valley from 700 feet above the Pacific blue yonder, complete with views of Mount Haleakala, and then draws them back up into one of golf’s most architecturally significant clubhouses.

Who would guess that up a hill in Waikapu you could find a Frank Lloyd Wright design? The legendary architect was devoted to the continual challenge of creating buildings that complemented their natural surroundings while resisting architectural convention. This clubhouse is a testimony to his philosophy and boundless creativity. Lloyd Wright conceived the “Crownfield” design in 1949, originally as a private residence on the mainland. Various commissions failed to come to fruition, including as a country home for Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller in the 1950s­ (when the couple separated the plan was shelved). When the founders of Waikapu Country Club (which would later become King Kamehameha GC) needed a clubhouse they consulted the Lloyd Wright archives and Crownfield was finally brought to life, in an expanded form to 75,000 square feet—and in the perfect setting.

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Plantation Course

Photo: Dave Sansom

Kapalua golf

occupying land that reaches down the slopes of the West Maui Mountains to the island’s northwest shore, and upon fertile ground that was previously a pineapple grove, the Plantation Course at Kapalua is regularly rated as the finest golf course in Hawaii. Tranquil, pristine, idyllic, and brilliantly designed by the dynamic duo of Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore, it is easy to see why the PGA Tour uses the Plantation Course to welcome in the New Year with its Sentry Tournament of Champions.

Blessed with a number of elevated tees, the Plantation Course offers some of the finest ocean views golfers can enjoy, and with generous fairways sloping down from many tees this is a golf course that enables the everyday golfer—without PGA Tour style distance off the tee—to feel pretty content with her driving distance. Just take out the driver, send the ball out moderately straight and high and the golf course does the rest.

Kapalua’s tour heritage extends to its Bay Course (see next page), while the 10-court Kapalua Tennis Garden has been carved out of Kapalua’s lush, indigenous, tropical foliage. In short, it’s a perfect vacation destination.

Bay Course

Photo: John Byrne

Kapalua golf

to suggest the Bay Course deputizes for Kapalua’s Plantation Course is to completely undermine the world-class quality and awe-inspiring location of the Bay Course, which has hosted over 20 professional tournaments and features the only golf hole in all of Maui that actually plays over the ocean.

The Bay Course opened in 1975 and ever since hosting its first tournament—the 1983 Kapalua International—it has been widely recognized as one of the favorite courses of tour pros. Just ask Morgan Pressel, who famously won the Kapalua LPGA Classic here in 2008, or Greg Norman, the former men’s world No.1 who earned his first victory on American soil here.

The fifth hole (pictured) is worth the green fee all on its own and is simply one of the most spectacular golf holes in the world.

A par-3 that plays 135 yards from the forward tee, the tee shot demands that golfers play over the surf-washed rocks of the bay, with views out across the Lahaina Roads channel that separates Maui from the neighboring island of Moloka’i.


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