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Ko Olina Resort in Hawaii: The sunny side of a great golf island

William K. WolfrumBy William K. Wolfrum,
Ko Olina Golf Club
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Ko Olina Golf Club in Oahu, Hawaii offers spectacular views of water, but not much rain. (Courtesy Ko Olina Resort)

At Ko Olina Resort & Marina, they make a claim that few golf resorts in Hawaii would dare to foist upon travelers: rain won't be an issue during your stay at this world-class resort.

But how is that possible? This is Hawaii, right? Doesn't it even rain indoors in this tropical paradise? Hyperbole aside, for the most part, when you plan a Hawaiian golf vacation, you can expect some rain. It's rarely enough to ruin a travelers' plans, mind you, but a steady drizzle is often par for the course throughout Hawaii, with the benefit being a lush landscape rarely seen outside the Amazon.

Ko Olina, however, is located on the West side of Oahu, and has natural protection from rain clouds. The Koolau Mountains catch incoming rain clouds, which need to deliver their watery payload before they're able to ascend high enough to get to the other side. The result is that while other parts of Hawaii get more than 100 inches of rain annually, the west coast of Oahu is clear, dry and sunny, and gets much less rain. And while the vegetation may not have the same green density, the upside for travelers, especially golfers, can be immense.

"We may lose one or two days of golfing a year to inclement weather, but even that's rare," said Tim Dietrich, a teaching professional at Ko Olina Golf Course. "We've got the best weather on the island."

Ko Olina Resort & Marina

Ko Olina sits on 640 acres, with the JW Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa at its center, both literally and figuratively. Nearly 400 rooms make up the resort, including 36 suites. A world-class, 35,000-square-foot spa will have you relaxed and ready to enjoy the five dining venues of this tropical resort, where the sun is your constant companion.

"Also, it's a contained resort, so there's a feeling of exclusivity and security," said Dietrich. "In this day and age those are pretty much the buzz words for travelers."

Outside the resort is the Ko Olina Marina, which is a boon to both boaters and those who thrive on fishing. The Marina houses 330 full-service slips and the Ko Olina Marina General Store. Boaters who lease these slips also have access to electricity, water, telephone, cable TV, high-speed Internet, barbeque and picnic areas and other luxuries.

Ko Olina Golf Club

Like the area it resides in, Ko Olina Golf Course stands out from other Hawaiian golf courses. This is a course that has hosted the Champions Tour and the LPGA's Fields Open, yet it retains its resort-course feel and reputation, having been listed as one of the top 75 U.S. resort courses by Golf Digest. It is at once a course tough enough to challenge the world's best golfers, but not punish duffers looking to have an enjoyable round of golf.

"It's really what you see is what you get here," said Dietrich. "There are not a lot of forced carries. Where the course protects itself is around the green."

That's not to say Ko Olina is a stroll in the park. Playing to more than 6,800 yards from the back tees, water comes in to play on eight holes - though as Dietrich said, mostly the water is there to play with a player's mind rather than create forced carries - along with well-bunkered, multi-tiered greens will have players reaching deep into their golf bag to navigate this Ted Robinson run.

"The layout is challenging and beautiful," wrote WorldGolf.com reader Kenneth Lawson. "Water is in play on quite a few holes and each has some type of fountain, brook or waterfall. This course is a pleasure to play."

Ko Olina is popular with locals, receiving 58,000 rounds per year as players from around the island flock to the great golfing weather the area provides. Also popular with locals, and visitors, is the Ko Olina Golf Academy, where players can go to sharpen up their game at a school with top instructors and all the latest in golf instruction technology.

"We've got all the bells and whistles," said Dietrich. Because while you can feel safe you're round won't get rained out at Ko Olina, you can be sure you'll get everything you could ask for from this Oahu resort.

William K. Wolfrum keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation. You can follow him on Twitter @Wolfrum.

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

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