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Tough choices: Ten must-play golf holes on Maui, Hawaii

Bill BowmanBy Bill Bowman,
The Dunes at Maui Lani Golf Course - No. 4
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The Dunes at Maui Lani's fourth hole features an undulating fairway and pot bunkers. (Courtesy of Dunes at Maui Lani)

Picking your favorite golf holes is like picking a favorite steak or favorite wine: It is all a matter of taste.

Do you favor challenging holes? Or holes with a view? Or holes requiring strategy? Whatever your choice, it is exactly that: your choice.

With that caveat in mind, here is one writer's view of the 10 of the best golf holes on Maui, Hawaii (in no particular order):

The Dunes at Maui Lani, fourth hole

No. 4 at the Dunes at Maui Lani is a par 5 that is just 503 yards on the scorecard, but this challenging hole is a real-life roller coaster ride.

The fairway rises and falls twice before players reach the green. Add in about 10 bunkers and an elevated green, and you've got all the makings of a dramatic golf hole.

Kaanapali Royal Course, 17th hole

This par-3 17th at Kaanapali Royal Course looks innocent as players look to close their round strong.

And at 158 yards, distance isn't a problem. But what puts it on the list is the picturesque look of the hole as a fountain and pond front the green. Add in two huge bunkers and a false-front green, and the test is ramped up a couple of notches.

King Kamehameha Golf Club, sixth hole

The par-4 sixth at King Kamehameha Golf Club isn't long in length (388 yards from the tips), but it does provide quite the test with an elevated green that is guarded by a pond on the right side that feeds a stream that cuts in front of the green. Accuracy with the second shot is imperative.

Pukalani Country Club, third hole

At around 140 yards, the third at Pukalani Country Club is an easy short-iron for most players. But there is a catch.

There are two greens on this hole. The easier of the two plays to a green some 50-feet below the tee box. The tougher hole, and the more fun, is a shot across a ravine to the green. The shot over the ravine is all carry, so short is not an option.

Take an extra club or be ready to tee up an extra ball. It's a wonderful golf hole no matter which green you take aim at.

Wailea Golf Club's Emerald Course, first hole

At 380 yards, the first at Wailea Golf Club's Emerald Course is a hole that's short enough to give players a wedge into the green and a chance at an opening birdie. But the reason it's on the list is the view from the tee box.

If it's your first golf hole of a vacation, it doesn't get much better than this: A wide, deep-green fairway with the blue of the Pacific Ocean as a stunning backdrop. Take in the view before you take on the course -- after all, this is what paradise is all about.

Kahili Golf Club, eighth hole

This par-3 eighth at Kahili Golf Club is one of those holes that will make players stop and pause.

At 189 yards from the tips, it's long enough to get your attention, but add in the fact that it's all carry over a pond, and you've got one of those golf holes that will have even the best players double-checking the yardage and club selection.

There is bailout to the left and bunkers to the right, but hitting this large green is no easy feat.

Kaanapali Kai Course, fourth hole

The par-4 fourth at Kaanapali Kai is one that every course needs -- a hole that gives players the chance to drive the green.

From the tips it's 308 yards (obviously shorter as players move forward). There are bunkers left off the tee and to the right of the green, so accuracy is a must. Play the hole at just the right time, and players will see the Sugar Cane train roll by. Quite a site on quite a golf hole.

Kapalua Bay Course, fifth hole

The par-3 fifth at Kapalua Resort's Bay Course plays 205 yards from the tips. But what a 205 yards it is.

With the tee box and green separated by a 50-foot drop to the ocean and waves crashing below, it's as beautiful as it is tough. If you play a draw, you're going to have to start tee shots over the ocean and hope they come back.

Add in a little breeze, and this is one amazing golf hole.

Kapalua Plantation Course, eighth hole

Another par 3 that mixes beauty and intimidation perfectly. The eighth at the Kapalua Plantation Course is 205 yards and plays across a gorge with five bunkers surrounding the green.

Tee shots are do-or-die here, and the huge, undulating green puts pressure on your putting touch and green-reading ability.

Makena Golf Club, 14th hole

At 620 yards, golfers will face the second longest hole in Hawaii on 14 at Makena Golf Club. The hole is a double dogleg that adds to the challenge.

Throw in lush green fairways, brilliant white-sand bunkers, jet-black lava and views of the blue waters of the Pacific, and you've got a golf hole that is as beautiful to look at as it is testing to play.

More photos

King Kamehameha golf course - No. 6Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort - hole 8Pukalani C.C. golf course - 3rdEmerald Course at Wailea Golf Club - No. 1Makena Golf Course - 14thKahili Golf Course on Maui - No. 8

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.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • wrong hole

    Gregory G. Hyde wrote on: Jun 21, 2014

    The par 3 you refer to on the Bay Course at Kapalua is not the 4th hole (which is a short dog leg left par 4) but the 5th hole. We have a painting of this stunning hole in our living room.