Golfing At The
Kaanapali Golf Courses

Story & Photos by: John Jones
This article is used with the permission of John Jones

The Kaanapali North Course

Maui, Hawaii --- I have felt the spine-tingling, spellbinding, mesmerizing power of breathtaking courses like Sawgrass, Pebble Beach, some of the more elite courses of Myrtle Beach, as well as the home course of Harvey Penwick located in Austin where his presence still lingers. Each famed course has a gripping and fascinating character that is its very own signature.  Kaanapali is no exception.

The course is located on the west side of the Island, near the upscale shopping and fine resorts. Imagine a course located at the beautiful foothills of the West Maui Mountains and next to the Pacific Ocean. Driving into the Kaanapali course off highway 30 into the entrance, I was at once aware of the appealing ambience and  the feel of a “player friendly course.” The elegantly classy tropical-tree-lined entrance gave way to one of the most easily approachable parking and bag unloading areas I have ever found at any domestic or foreign course. A very friendly and congenial staff to assist me in unloading the clubs and getting the carts ready for play met me. The parking is right beside the club drop area.

Kaanapali is a very player friendly course

The upstairs (from the bag drop) pro shop was not as convenient, but the professionalism and friendliness of the pro shop staff more than made up for the climb. I found the pro shop to be well equipped with more than sufficient indispensable items for the modern golfer. There is an upper level parking area that allows a “walk in” to the building housing the pro shop, and a little “walk around” allows one to by-pass the stairs if that is a problem.
Maui courses are often known for fairly high winds in the evening and rain can be a challenge on a number of the courses. I found that the wind is usually no more a problem than in West Texas where my home course is located. What does take time to learn is that, when putting – the ball always rolls towards the ocean. Kaanapali's Tournament North Courses are planted with common Bermuda fairways and Bermuda Tifton 328 greens. Water comes into play on 4 holes and prevailing northeast trade winds challenge even the more experienced golfers. The Kaanapali courses have a strong Bermuda grain that will direct the ball toward the ocean. We are talking about extremes – balls rolling up hill, turning on their turn signals and taking a very strong left hand turn seemingly for no reason at all – almost a 45-degree turn. Once you are convinced that this rule is always going to hold true – usually about six to ten holes later, your putting will greatly improve. Likewise, when going with the grain the ball will take off like a new NASCAR whereas putting against the grain it suddenly becomes a 95 year old driving on the freeway of Los Angeles.

Photo courtesy of Kaanapali Resort

The mountain area of Maui attracts clouds that hover daily. This area receives over 400 inches of rain a year, and is one of, if not, the most annual rainfall per acre in the world. Fortunately for the golfers, with a lot of the rain is drawn towards the mountains and the course is often spared. Sprinkles or gentle tropical rains come and go, but for Hawaii, the threat of rain is not as often at Kaanapali as some of the other courses. With a temperature variation of less then ten degrees annually, perfect weather is almost certain to welcome your game.
The Kaanapali courses are located in West Maui, and the North Course is a par 71 and plays 6693 long. The Robert Trent Jones designed North Course offers the largest and most contoured greens in Maui. The South Course is Arthur Snyder design and requires some finesse on the slopes and accuracy on the narrow fairways, but generally is much easier to play than the North Course.

The facilities include a putting area, driving range, pro shop and dining. 

John Jones playing the North Course.

I loved the North Course, and enjoyed the South Course. The North Course “played to my game,” and when that happens I always “love the course.” Every turn of the cart on the North Course opens to another beautiful scene. I was surprised that water hazards are not frequent, but sand hazards and wide bunkers are plentiful. My only dismay was the sand in the hazards is not the beautiful fluffy white sand of some of the upscale courses I play, but usually the brown, dense sand that has a tendency to pack. Oh well, that would have made the play perfect, and there are no perfect courses. Here I am with my "Natural Golf" swing that brought new life into my game.  Happy Traveling

For more information:
Kaanapali Beach Resort
2290 Kaanapali Parkway
Lahaina, HI. 96761  
Five Minutes from the West Maui (Kapalua) Airport
Toll free:(866) 454-GOLF
Phone: (808) 661-3691
Admin. Offices: (808) 661-5779
Fax: (808) 661-0203    


RESTAURANT: Reilley's Steak & Seafood, overlooks the finishing hole on the Tournament North Course. Their menu features American cuisine with local flair. Catering and private functions for 10-150 people are available. (808) 667-7477

Golf attire:   
Proper golf attire is required for all players. Shirts with a collar are required for men. No tank tops, halter-tops or swimwear.