Robert Trent Jones would eventually lay four golf courses across the Hawaiian islands but the first came with the Royal Kā’anapali at the Maui resort of the same name.
Jones could certainly utilize natural beauty when creating a golf course, however offering a challenge to the skilled golfer was always the first thing on his mind during that era of his career. Just two years after its opening, Royal Kā’anapali hosted the Canada Cup (seems ironic, we know) during 1964.
Although the course only measures to just beyond 6,700 yards now, the course’s signature holes were certainly intimidating to the best players of the time. No. 17 is, as at many championship courses, is both the shortest and the most intimidating par three on the course. Measuring 155 yards, it is a full carry over an inland pond to a green that is surrounded by sand on all other sides.
The closer is a 440-yard par four with water down its entire left side, which imposes itself particularly close to the green. Even the opening hole is no walk in the park: a 520-yard par five, the aforementioned pond travels down its right side...hope you got the slice out of your system at the range!
This course was very fun and they did an outstanding job with the layout given the hilly, mountainous terrain. I will say I was disappointed with a few of the service items there. The range is minimal, which is fine, real estate is expensive - but disappointing to hit off of mats. Also, I had hoped being one of the first groups off, I would have played quickly, but that was not the case. I finally bailed at the 4-hour mark in the 16th fairway when we had three groups on 16, two on 17, and none on 18. I think they have a 4:12 pace of play goal but there is no reason it should take longer than 3:50 to play here.
I was pretty frustrated to learn from the couple that I was paired with that even though you are paying $190, they will not provide water in your cart and the beverage cart won't start until 9:30 (teed off at 7:10). There is an ABC Store in the Whaler's Village just by the first green but they do not open until 7:30.
It was a fun round and if you are looking to play golf while on Maui you won't be disappointed...the course conditions we excellent and some picturesque holes - but rather frustrating given the pace of play and lack of water on the course.
Located on the west coast of Maui, north of Lahaina, The Ka'anapali Resort is home to two championship golf courses, five luxury hotels, and a host of condominiums. With a gorgeous beach, high end shopping complex, and typical western Maui weather it is a popular spot. But this is no surprise- after all, it was the home to ancient Hawaiian royalty...
One of the highlights of Kaanapali Resort is its world-class golf. The Ka'anapali Golf Resort offers 36 holes of legendary golf and is rich in history and tradition.
The Royal Ka'anapali Course is a Robert Trent Jones Senior design, and opened in 1962 . It is a par 71 course measuring 6700 yards from the tips. It hosted the Champions Tour Kaanapali Classic for 14 years, and has also hosted Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf, the Canada Cup and the LPGA Kemper Open.
In 2006, the course was renovated by renowned golf course architect, Robin Nelson. Combining wide fairways and undulating greens, the Royal Ka'anapali Course is basically a flattish parkland course that uses water hazards, palm trees and bunkers to define the course.
It is not a championship course in my eyes and is not maintained as one. Most of the clientele would be there for a beach holiday, and golf is perhaps not the main focus.
The 5th hole is well known as the hole that nears the famous shoreline, and as such photos of this hole are oft seen in marketing. It's a good hole!
With a golf course that features on televised tournaments, great weather, beautiful beaches, shopping and all facilities, you don't need to be Einstein to see why Ka'anapali is popular!
Royal Ka'anapali course has no shortage of punters lining up for tee times. It is certainly a lovely place to have a beach and golf holiday. it's a nice course, but not amongst the the best in Maui
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.
Royal Ka’anapali is a Robert Trent Jones Sr. design that dates back to 1962. Over the years it has hosted events such as Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf, the LPGA’s Kemper Open, and the Champions Tour, Ka’anapali Classic. However, that was many years ago.
The first hole is a reachable par 5, slight dogleg right with water all the way down the right. Well -protected green with 3 bunkers and the water hazard creating a narrow approach. As it is the first hole, I would advise playing it as a 3 shotter, make par or better and get your round off to a good start. The 3rd is a long par four with a redan green. Off the tee favor the right side of the fairway. The 4th is a dogleg right with three bunkers on the inside elbow and one on the outside. The 5th is a long par 4, 474 yards with a beach on the right. The number one handicap hole, par is a super score. Interestingly, the 470 uphill 6th is a par 5 and even I reached it in two. Not a lot to this hole, but a cautionary tale of grain is worth noting. I did not want to leave eagle putt short, so I went after it to set up a 20 foot birdie putt. Now I am thinking, these have gotten quick, better dial it back a bit. Now, I have a ten foot par putt which I nestled into the circle of friends for a 4 jack. Pay attention to where the sun is, very grainy greens. The 7th is a short dogleg right with some fairway bunkers adding to the nuisance factor. A good birdie oppty. The 9th looks intimidating on the card a 485 yard par 4. There are a couple of fairway bunkers on each side, but if you are playing the correct tees, they should not affect a decent drive. You will have elevation and wind assisting, favor the left side off the tee.
The look and feel from 10 - 14 are similar, pretty open fairways, some fairway bunkers and usually well-protected greens. The long 200 yard par 3 15th has some teeth. Three bunkers with one short right and one short left. The par 3 17th leverages the only water hazard on the course. It is only 155 yards, but one of the funner holes on the course. On the 18th you will have a water carry off the tee, with water all the way down the right side. If you are to cautious you may end up in the left fairway bunkers. Too bad the rest of the course is not like the 18th.
Not impressed. I would not go back even if you were paying. However, if you are stuck at one of the local hotels with no vehicle playing Ka’anapali beats a sharp stick in the eye
It's your standard Hawaiian resort course. I don't feel it's worth as much as the green fees might indicate, but it is a good course. #5 is a lot of fun to play as you come right up alongside the Ka'anapali beach and get to putt out with lots of beach bums spectating. The course is in good shape, but between value and bang for your buck, I firmly believe visiting a course like The Dunes at Maui Lani or Kahili is more valuable. They're better golf courses in my book, cheaper, and not nearly as busy. I'd like to see at least one of them make the cut and be listed on the Hawaii ranking here sometime.