Big Island golf trip offers a few surprises
KAILUA KONA, Hawaii – When it comes to Hawaii, everyone, it seems, has their favorite island. Count me among the few perhaps, who really can’t decide, but I know the Big Island of Hawaii will always be a candidate for me.
The reason is its diversity. In the course of driving around it – the Big Island has 13 different microclimates – you can go from clear, crisp coastline to the rainforest to the mountains. Incredibly, the Big Island Country Club has bentgrass greens.
This really cool Perry Dye design looks and feels like it could be in British Columbia. At 2,000 feet above sea level, the temperature is noticeably less than what it was at the Mauna Kea Beach Resort, where we stayed the last two nights.
It was the first time I played Big Island CC, which was recently renovated and can be stretched to more than 7,000 yards. It’s really enjoyable golf, and the views are pretty good, too. On a clear day, you can see Maui off in the distance.
Another new discovery on this go-round was the improved Hapuna Golf Course across the highway from Mauna Kea Golf Course. As good as Mauna Kea Golf Course is, the Arnold Palmer-designed Hapuna isn’t a letdown from its sister course at all. In fact, in some ways it’s more enjoyable because it’s easier. And because the two have the same superintendent, it’s in great shape and the views overlooking the Pacific are arguably just as good as Mauna Kea.
The views are also breathtaking on the Mountain Course at Kona Country Club (ironically, it has better ocean views than the Ocean Course there). My only complaint is because it slopes so severely to the Pacific, you get one hanging lie after another in the fairway.
In short, the golf is fantastic on the Big Island, but I can’t argue that it’s better than Kauai or Maui. The Big Island, to me, is just super interesting. Its black lava shorelines are part of what sets it apart. And no first-time trip to the Big Island would be complete without a trip to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Seeing steam rise from the ground for no good reason at all never ceases to amaze me.
Great snorkeling, sailing, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, tennis (exceptional at Mauna Kea, by the way), romantic dinners, spas and one breathtaking sunset after another make this the perfect couples golf trip. And if you like coffee, this is your place. I’ve had great coffee all over the world, but it’s hard to top 100 percent Kona coffee. It’s expensive, but worth it – just like a Big Island golf trip in January.
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