Considered by many to be one of Tom Weiskopf’s best designs, the golf course at Kukui‘ula boasts 18 technically demanding holes designed to test the metal of even the most skilled players. Along with the rollicking topography that defines the course, Kauai’s ever-changing trade winds add an additional element to navigate. And perhaps the greatest challenge of all is remaining focused on the game in the face of the alarmingly beautiful ocean vistas on display at every turn. Kukui‘ula’s Head Golf Pro, Brian Paul, was kind enough to pass along a few tips to help players around the course:
Hole #1 – The first hole is slight dogleg left with a gentle swale running the length of the hole down the left side. Players must avoid the deep bahia rough on the left side off the tee. Approach this green from the right side of the fairway, which is well protected by bunkers.
Hole #2 – This short Par 4 requires some strategy off the tee, as a bunker sits in the center of the fairway approximately 95 yards from the green. Depending on wind direction, players may opt to lay up short of the bunker leaving a relatively short approach into the green. A large bunker protects the front of the green as well.
Hole #3 – A short but feisty Par 3, the third hole requires players to hit over a ravine to a green flanked by two large bunker complexes. The safe play is a shot short and right of the green, which set ups a relatively simple pitch or putt to the hole.
Hole #4 – The shortest Par 5 on the golf course, the fourth hole can often be conquered, especially when the trade winds are blowing. From the tee, players must negotiate a fairway bunker placed on the right side of the fairway, while also avoiding a large swale that runs the length of the hole down the right side. A hazard bisects the fairway 165 yards from the green. Approach shots must be on target here as the green bends off into collection areas on both the right and left side.
Hole #5 – The fifth hole is a challenging Par 4 that is uphill from tee to green. Players should favor the right side of this fairway, as a miss left will leave a challenging shot from the deep bahia rough. A crown flower orchard runs down the left side of the hole as well. This large, relatively level green is protected in the front by a bunker, making the safe play to approach short and left.
Hole #6 – The sixth hole begins with an extraordinary view from the tee as players are treated to a downhill tee shot. Avoiding the fairway bunker on the left is key to success here, although the approach shot sets up much better from the left side of the fairway. Players must steer clear of a lake running down the left side of the fairway on their approach shots. A shot played slightly short and right of this green tends roll back towards the green making this the safe play to the green.
Hole #7 – The longest hole on the golf course, the seventh starts with a beautiful tee shot just left of a lake complete with several flowing waterfalls. Players must avoid the fairway bunkers on the right side of the fairway on this dogleg right par 5. Approach shots are also faced with some challenge as more fairway bunkers flank both sides of the fairway beginning approximately100 yards from the green.
Hole #8 – A dramatic Par 3 from the tee, the eighth hole is certainly one where pars must be earned. With the Pacific Ocean as the backdrop, players must safely negotiate a ravine from the tee. The safe play is a shot slightly short and right of this green, leaving an open pitch to the hole.
Hole #9 – An early favorite among members thus far, the ninth hole is a sweeping downhill Par 4 with more extraordinary views of the Pacific Ocean and the Club below. Ideal tee shots favor the right side, often catching the speed slot and sending the ball several more yards down the fairway. A menacing lake sits left and short of this green, and shots that come up slightly short often roll back into the water.
Hole #10 – The tenth hole is a dogleg right Par 4 that runs slightly uphill from tee to green. A large section of fairway bunkers leaves players thinking twice about cutting too much off of the corner from the tee. The safest play is left of the bunkers, leaving a longer approach into the green. Approach shots on this hole can be bounced into this green.
Hole #11 – This short par 4 is reachable for longer players when the wind is right. From the tee, the key is avoiding the large bunker complex short and left of the green. The ideal approach into the green is from the right side of the hole.
Hole #12 – The twelfth hole is a wonderful short Par 3 that features a large undulating green and a great green side bunker beginning at the front left side of the green and wrapping half way around the back of the green. The hole plays downhill, and often down wind, so club selection is the key here. Over clubbing can result in a treacherous lie as there is limited room long of this green.
Hole #13 – The thirteenth hole is a fabulous Par 5 complete with amazing ocean views. The tee shot is all about risk versus reward. Players carrying the fairway bunkers on the left side of the fairway are treated to a short approach to the smallest green on the golf course. A small coffee plantation can also come into play for players missing too far left.
Hole #14 – Breathtaking from the tee, the fourteenth hole at is one of the most exciting holes on the golf course. From the tee, players are faced with the decision to play aggressively or wisely on this short and often drivable Par 4. Players opting to go for it should try to position their tee shots just left of the left fairway bunker, leaving very little margin for error. A well-struck tee shot missing the left fairway bunker may very well roll onto the green. A safer play is to lay-up short of the left fairway bunker, leaving a 100-yard shot into an undulating green.
Hole #15 – The fifteenth hole again offers incredible ocean views from the tee, including an unobstructed look at Spouting Horn. This long dogleg right Par 4 may be the most challenging hole on the entire golf course, especially if the trade winds are blowing. From the tee, an ideal shot would finish short and slightly right of the fairway bunker. From the fairway, players are asked to hit a long iron, or possibly a wood, into a well-protected green. Par is typically a great score here.
Hole #16 – The sixteenth hole is another significantly challenging Par 4 that plays into the prevailing trade winds. Players should favor the left side of the fairway, as this offers a preferred angle into the green. The bunker in front of the green looks to be greenside, but is actually about 50 yards from the putting surface.
Hole #17 – The seventeenth hole is a medium-length Par 3 that is protected by several greenside bunkers on the right side of the hole. The safe play is short and left of the green, leaving an open pitch to the hole.
Hole #18 – The eighteenth hole is a great Par 5 finishing hole. Players must avoid the fairway bunkers on each side of the fairway from the tee. Depending on the wind, long hitters may have a go at this one in two, but beware of the lake that protects the front of the green. Players opting to lay-up should leave themselves with at least 80 yards to the green to avoid hitting it in the water.
Enjoy your stay at one of the best Hawaii luxury homes and choose golf on our top-notch course as one of your activities.