Travel Destinations

Monday, August 25, 2014

Set a Course for Kauai Lagoons Golf Club

Kiele Moana Hole 7 Kauai Lagoons Golf Club Hawaii

A common question asked during a round of golf is, “How long you been playin’?”  I like to say my game is of legal drinking age.  So, as a seasoned golfer, I have mastered the art of the excuse after a mediocre round on a fantastic course.  My handicaps for this particular round of golf at Kauai Lagoons Golf Club were as follows:
  1. It was windy and it rained a little.  It’s a golf course in Hawaii; there’s always a little rain and wind.
  2. As do most golfers, I have a certain setup of clubs I am used to and which has its particularities.  For example I carry a stock pitching wedge, a 54, and a 60 (not a 50 and a 56), I am accustomed to long irons (I don’t know anything about a 4 hybrid), and as of late,  I play a counterbalanced 37” two ball putter and am no longer used to the standard 34” job.  All that said, what a nice set of rental clubs Joe in the clubhouse set me up with at the Kauai Lagoons Golf Club.  Just tell them your flex and leave your bag at home.
  3. I was a bit tired from the flight the night before, blah, blah, blah.
  4. And lastly, most importantly, I was distracted.  Distracted by the crazy beautiful course around me, the calm seas, and the mountain backdrop (really not sure if Jack had that installed or if they were already there, either way, distracting).
View from the Putting Green Kauai Lagoons Golf Club Hawaii

Hole 2 Kiele Mauka Kauai Lagoons Golf Club Hawaii

I have been to the Hawaiian Islands many times in the past, and nine years ago while in Kauai I was fortunate enough to play the Prince Course at Princeville.   I have played both Ko’olau and Kapolei in Oahu, Mauna Lani on the Big Island (that’s the one with all that dramatic black lava rock everywhere), and Kaanapali, Makena, and Kapalua on Maui.  So this was not my first Hawaiian golf rodeo, nor in fact even my first trip around the course of Kauai Lagoons Golf Club.  Actually, the wife said we were going back to Kauai and my first thought (after oh sweet, shaved ice) was cool, I can figure out that golf course I loved with all the statue markers.   She located it, and we even stayed at the Marriott’s Kauai Lagoons, which is on the same property, as the Kauai Lagoons Golf Club is managed by the Marriott.  I was very excited to find out they had changed some stuff and wondered if it would be even better. 

Kiele Mauka Hole 5 Kauai Lagoons Golf Club Hawaii

Kiele Mauka Hole 6 Kauai Lagoons Golf Club Hawaii

In my opinion, it is even better.  Kauai Lagoons Golf Club was a larger facility before.  There was in fact an additional 18 holes many moons ago.  Then that was reduced to a total of 27 a bit back, then refined to the 18-hole Kiele Course which remains.  Jack (yes, that Jack) stopped by a while back to check on things and gave his seal of approval.  Mr. Nicklaus created the original design back in the 80s, so who are we to second guess?  The big brag of the Kiele Course is that it is the longest stretch of holes along the coast in all of the Hawaiian Isles.  That’s a half mile of glorious oceanfront golf.  It’s pretty much breathtaking, and I know because I try to pay close attention to my breathing on each swing.  So there’s handicap number five, hard to breath. 

Kiele Mauka Hole 6 Kauai Lagoons Golf Club Hawaii

Kiele Course Kauai Lagoons Golf Club Hawaii

If the Kiele Course’s longest stretch of oceanfront holes is not impressive enough:
  • 2013 Golfweek: #84 in America's Best Resort Courses
  • 2012 #7 Best Public Golf Courses in Hawaii
  • 2012 MSN Travel: World's Most Beautiful Golf Courses
  • 2010 GolfWeek: America's "Top 100 Resort Courses"
  • 2010 GOLF Magazine: #4 in Hawaii's Best Public Golf Courses; named a 2010 Silver Medal Winner for Premier Resorts
  • 2010 Golf World: Named to America's Top 50 Golf Resorts
  • 2010/2011 Conde Nast Traveler: "Top Golf Resorts" Readers' Poll

Kiele Mauna Hole 1 Kauai Lagoons Golf Club Hawaii

Kiele Moana Kauai Lagoons Golf Club Hawaii

The Kauai Lagoons Golf Club’s practice putting green, chipping area, and range are nestled right off the starter booth and surrounded by the front nine so you get a good feel for what is about to occur.  I’m not sure what they call the actual “Signature Hole” of this course.  If I had to vote, there would be problems.  It could be the second on Kiele Mauka with its red sand bunkers guarding its reachable-in-two green.  Or the par three fifth hole with a carry over the ocean to a cliff-side green bordered by more red sand bunkers.  Or hole seven two pins later on the Kiele Moana nine with a green jutting out over the water with an edge like one of those infinity pools approached from above from what feels like a 45-degree down slope (terrifying).  Or maybe the water guarded ninth right in front of the clubhouse where passersby can watch you chunk your approach shot right into the lagoon short of the green, which I wish I could say is not from personal experience.  Here again is where I refer you to my excuse of not being used to a 50 degree wedge.   

Kiele Moana Hole 5 Kauai Lagoons Golf Club Hawaii

Kiele Moana Hole 7 Kauai Lagoons Golf Club Hawaii

It’s a fine test for golfers at any level.  Just know where you stand with your game.  I don’t think this is the place to force bravery on yourself.  As Clint Eastwood says in Magnum Force, “A man’s got to know his limitations.”  If you really enjoy trying to carry 219 yards to a sideways landing strip, then, by all means, have at it; it’s certainly available for you here.  I personally choked up a tee from the back and had more than enough course to challenge myself without grinding my teeth too much.  The forward tees would give you a nice break but not be an indication of any lack of intestinal fortitude.  In a nutshell, fun for golfers of all levels.

Kiele Moana Hole 7 Kauai Lagoons Golf Club Hawaii

The pace of play was exactly as it should be.  On the day I played, there were folks in front of me as well as behind, but I never felt rushed or spent too much time waiting on the tee.  This is a factor that is often overlooked in an effort to get as many patrons out as possible, and when this happens the experience suffers.  Golf is stressful enough without looking over your shoulder or waiting and losing your tempo.  This was not the case at the Kauai Lagoons Golf Club on either of the occasions I've played there.  Bravo and mahalo for that!

The Golden Bear Hole 18 Kauai Lagoons Golf Club Hawaii

In addition, no pun intended, I love birds and there are birds everywhere.  It’s not just the handsome roosters and hens which inhabit all of Kauai that are plentiful; stilt, duck, coot, gallinule and nene can also be seen.  In fact, Kauai Lagoons is the world’s largest nene sanctuary.   Keep a watchful eye out and you’ll be sure to see many of these beautiful fowl about the grounds, ponds, streams and flats at the Kauai Lagoons Golf Club. 

Hawaiian Rooster Kauai Lagoons Golf Club Hawaii

Hawaiian Coot Kauai Lagoons Golf Club Hawaii

Thank you to the Kauai Lagoons Golf Club for hosting my round and making this post possible.  All opinions are my own.

Travel the World: If traveling to Kauai to play golf, consider the Marriott's Kauai Lagoons Golf Club, a Jack Nicklaus designed golf course.

Katherine Belarmino and Romeo Belarmino are the authors of Travel the World, a travel blog for the everyday working stiff. They work full-time in non-travel related jobs, but take every opportunity they can to travel the world during their limited vacation time.