Tee time at Maui’s Royal Kaanapali Golf Course

Posted: July 11, 2011 by Nathan Kam in Family & Friends, Golf Bug, Hawaiian Islands, Maui, Maui, Random Raves & Rants, Travel
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Hacking it around on Kaanapali’s Royal Course with my cousin Grant and brothers-in-law Kevin and Jon. Mahalo to Melissa Ludwig for snapping this photo.

If there’s one thing I wish I had more time to do these days, it’s golf! Getting out to play once a month is a major accomplishment, so when the opportunity to play arises, I try to make the most of it. As was the case during our recent family vacation to The Valley Isle. We had one free day to hit the links so we headed to Kaanapali Golf Resort’s Royal Course for some fun in the West Maui sun.

My friends Ed Kageyama (Kaanapali’s General Manager) and Melissa Ludwig (Kaanapali’s marketing manager) were kind enough to host my family and me for the round. This was everyone’s first time playing the Royal Course – also the home of the Wendy’s Champions Skins Game in January – so were were quite excited to tee off at 7:30 a.m. And needless to say, we had a great time. Heck, I even somehow managed to shoot a sneaky 79 (thank goodness for par 71 courses). All around great day enjoyed by all.

What follows is my five reasons you should tee it up at Kaanapali’s Royal Course.  Here we go…

NO. 1 – FRIENDLY STAFF AND FUN COURSE

The first thing I noticed upon arriving at the course was the staff’s warm, welcoming spirit. It wasn’t forced. It was more like being greeted by your uncles and friends….like coming home. We had fun talking story with the cart guys about things back on Oahu, they shared tips on playing the course, and Assistant Head Pro David Havens even found a stiff shaft, 8 degree driver for me to use for the round. Sweet!

The course itself is a fun track. We decided to play the white tees since the skill level of our foursome was all over the place. Generous fairways, not much water hazards, and not all that long to be honest. But you know short holes can be deceiving and the ones here need to be handled with care or else a big score lurks on a 340-yard par-4. There are some good elevation changes on this course too, which makes a solid second shot and distance control important…two things I’m not always the best with. But as expected, the course was in perfect condition…hardly a weed in the fairway and beautiful, fast, and true greens. Keeping your ball in the fairways is key as the rough, albeit not that tall, is still penal.

NO. 2 – GPS IN THE GOLF CART

It goes without saying that one of the most helpful pieces of information any golfer can have on the course is an accurate yardage from tee to green. If you’re like me, half the time your playing your second shot from the rough…on the other fairway or nowhere near a yardage marker…which can make getting an accurate distance tough. Well, not at Kaanapali. All golf carts are equipped with state-of-the-art GPS systems that give you all the yardages you need to know, enables you to keep score, and keeps your foursome on schedule by letting know how far ahead or behind your group is. Awesome!


The No. 5 hole on Kaanapali’s Royal Course. Challenging par-4 to a narrow green by the ocean. 

NO. 3 – BONDING TIME

One of the main reasons I don’t play a lot of golf these days is because of the time commitment. Days can get long when you take into consideration time to get to the course, the actual round, then the usual 19th hole shenanigans. But, when I do get out there, I’m quickly reminded how that quality time on a golf course can really be an incredible bonding experience for family, friends, and colleagues. There’s tons of time to talk story and you really learn a lot about someone’s character out there. Bottom line…it’s worth the time investment as long as you’re playing with the right foursome. 😉


The No. 10 hole is a downhill par-4 through a treelined fairway. Beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean!

NO. 4 – FOOD AND BEVERAGE CARTS ARE AWESOME!

One of the things you don’t see at too many golf courses anymore are the food and beverage carts circling the course throughout the day…bring happy golfers snacks, food, and BEER! So when the cart girl came upon our group at Kaanapali with refreshments, we had no choice but to patronize…twice during our round. That’s all I’m going to say about that. LOL! But the convenience of having the beverage cart come to you during your round is a service I wish more courses would offer.


The No. 18 finishing hole on the Royal Course is beautifully challenging with water all the way down the right. Solid drive and second shot required! 

NO. 5 – FOUR HOUR ROUNDS ROCK!!

Nothing beats a four hour round of golf where the pace is brisk and not rushed. No waiting for the group in front to tee off on every…single…hole…like is the case at many of Hawaii’s municipal and public golf courses. I’m the kind of golfer who appreciates an efficient round and my scores reflect that. My family and I enjoyed a round in just a little over four hours. We probably could have finished faster, but we wanted to take it all in. This gave us plenty of time to do our guy thing in the morning, before catching up with family and friends at lunch and having the other half of the day to explore Maui. While you may pay a little more to play a resort course, it’s worth it if you value time. I’ll take a four hour round over a six hour round any day!

So there you have it. My two cents on why you might consider a round of golf at Kaanapali’s Royal Course. You’re probably thinking this can apply to any resort course in Hawaii…and you’re probably right.

The takeaway: Get out, tee it up, and enjoy the 80+ golf courses Hawaii has to offer. Some of the best golf you’ll play anywhere in the world. But don’t take my word for it. Check it our yourself!

I’d love to hear your Hawaii golf stories too, so feel free to share them here. In the meantime, keep ’em in the short grass!

-NGK

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