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Emerald Course at Wailea Golf Club in Hawaii: Maui's scenic, playable RTJ Jr. gem

Bill BowmanBy Bill Bowman,
Wailea Golf Club - Emerald Course - 1st
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The par-4 first hole on Wailea Golf Club's Emerald Course features a wide, inviting fairway. (Courtesy of Wailea G.C.)

WAILEA, Maui, Hawaii -- Start with three golf courses, add in beach-front resorts, mix in a variety of restaurant choices and top it off with ocean views you've got all the ingredients you'll need for your next golf vacation. In fact, with three 18-hole golf layouts (Emerald, Gold and Old Blue), the Wailea Golf Club can be your one-stop golf getaway.

"We have amazing course conditions, great weather, beautiful scenery and three different courses -- what else can I say?" said Rusty Hathaway, head professional at Wailea Golf Club. "It's just a great place to get away and play golf. And three distinctly different courses give players a lot of choices."

Wailea Golf Club's Emerald Course

For this story we're going to focus on the Robert Trent Jones, Jr.-designed Emerald Course at Wailea G.C. At 6,825 yards, the Emerald has plenty of distance to challenge even the best players.

But it's not the length that will catch your eye. It's the golf course's design. There are Pacific Ocean and Mount Haleakala views everywhere on this course that features winding fairways, elevation changes, well bunkered greens and consistent course conditions. There are no houses on the course, so it's just you and a four-hour golf outing that will tantalize the senses.

And that outing starts at the 380-yard, par-4 first hole. A wide, inviting fairway awaits the drive, allowing players to be a little wide off the tee. The second shot is in to a receptive green that can get players off to a birdie start.

One of the more intriguing features on the course is the double green shared by the 10th and 17th holes. A huge mound separates the two greens with a pond and bunkers adding to the challenges. Then there's the par-3 13th. This well guarded, tricky green makes this short hole still quite the test.

The 18th provides players one last chance to put a birdie on the scorecard. The par 5 plays 553 yards from the tips, but a wide fairway (on both the tee shot and the second shot) will let players be a little more aggressive. Lay up with the second shot to have a wedge into this greem. Try to stay below the hole to ensure an easier putt to end your day on the Emerald.

"This is one of the best finishing holes on the island," Hathaway said. "With the Pacific Ocean in the background and hitting down to the green, it's just a great way to end your round."

Two final notes for those looking to get away to play golf with the wife (or husband): The Emerald Course is constantly rated as one of the best anywhere for women to play. And don't let your ego stand in the way of having a good time. Remember, you're at sea level so drives will have a tendency to be shorter. Don't be afraid to move up a set of tees.

Wailea Golf Club: In the clubhouse

The food and the views are both impressive. Looking out over the golf course to the Pacific Ocean in the background as the sun begins to set is a great spot for that romantic dinner. With a menu from Chef Bev Gannon (including, but not limited to, cashew-crusted Mahi, Tandoori loin of lamb, braised short ribs and rock salt-crusted ribeye), there are dining options to fit everyone's taste.

Wailea Golf Club: Where to stay?

If you're looking for a place to call home during your next Maui trip, Wailea G.C. should be on the top of your list. There are plenty of resorts in the area, including the Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui; Four Seasons Resort, Maui; Grand Wailea Resort and Hotel Wailea. Add to those five white-sand beaches, spa getaways and an abundance of dining and recreational choices. There's a package that will fit everyone's budget. And they are all just minutes away from the three golf courses.

Now it's just a matter of narrowing down your choices -- just like with the golf courses.

Wailea Golf Club: The verdict

There's no doubt Wailea Golf Club should be a must-play stop on any golfer's list when traveling to Hawaii. But make sure you schedule at least a couple of days here because you can't play just one course. After all, two more courses -- the Gold and Old Blue -- are right on the property.

"These are three really enjoyable courses," Hathaway said. "These typify resort courses. We want players to come out and have a great time and have fun. We provide some of the best customer service and really want to make the players feel welcome when they come here. It's that simple."

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Wailea Golf Club - Emerald Course - 13thWailea Golf Club - Gold and Emerald clubhouseWailea Golf Club - Emerald Course - 18th

Bill Bowman is a Las Vegas-based writer who has more than 40 years in the sports-writing business. He's spent the past 16-plus years covering the golf scene in Vegas and has teed it up for magazine profiles with celebrities including comedian Bill Engvall, actor Jeffrey Donovan (USA's Burn Notice), ESPN personality Colin Cowherd, NASCAR's Kurt Busch, Collective Soul's Ed Roland, the Baltimore Ravens' Jonathan Ogden and many others.

Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.

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