The Manele Golf Course, formerly The Challenge at Manele Bay, is an ocean lover’s dream come true and one of the most breathtaking courses you may ever play. Jack Nicklaus certainly had a vision when he laid out this course taking full advantage of the raw ruggedness of the tract and the natural beauty of the island. As you leave the clubhouse you’ll gradually traverse up the mountain and be treated to an ever-changing kaleidoscope of color from different vantages of Hulopo’e Bay. On our approach to the 5th hole we reached the highest elevation on the property and an indication of what the back nine revealed. Up until this point I had been tearing up the course but from here on in it was all downhill, if you’ll pardon the pun.
On the back nine, several holes hug the shoreline. Each one is framed by the ocean, challenging not only your senses but also your skill and strategy. No doubt about it when I looked at my scorecard I knew that from here on in I had to focus on every shot, be that with a club or my camera!
When we reached their 12th signature hole, I found a peninsula green perched in front of a sheer 150-foot drop to the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean below. I felt like I was standing at the edge of the world and that there was nowhere else I’d rather be, despite the fact that I was facing a very unforgiving water hazard. Without a doubt this is probably the most photographed hole in the islands. No wonder Bill Gates chose this 202-yard, par three to say … “I do!”
Still, in my opinion, the 17th is their best and my favorite hole. This testy par four features a big dogleg right. Not only is it visually appealing but it also requires a good drive to carry the rocky cliffs followed by a slippery downhill approach to a mound protected green that juts out into the sparkling ocean at Kaluakoi Point.To read the entire article on golf on Lana’i Hawaii see golftravelandleisure.com.
Manele has ocean views from nearly every hole, and is beautifully maintained. Nicklaus courses are always solid strategically- Jack the architect tells you what your options are from the tee- I like that!
The bunkers are well positioned, and suit the grand scale of the surroundings. There are quite a number of lengthy forced carries, from the tee and for approach shots- but different tee box options give players choice as to the difficulty of the course they play
Longer hitters will have a number of decisions to make through the round but the shorter more strategic player will not be disadvantaged in playing his own game.
The first 6 holes are a very strong start to the round. The routing is very well thought out, but relies heavily on the use of carts to make the course playable. It would be a terribly long and difficult course to walk.
From one to six the holes play across or down the slope, relying on the drives from green to the next tee take you ever higher up the slope.
By using the carts to take the player up to the next tee, Nicklaus was able to accommodate elevated tees and approach shots- making those approaches both attractive to the eye and nice to play.
With an average of perhaps 20 players per day on the course, you will feel like you have the place to yourself. So stop half way and have lunch in the clubhouse looking out over the cliffs and sea vistas. It is a spectacular place to dine, and with the backing of the Four Seasons Resort team, the cuisine and service cannot be faulted...
The back nine starts well on 10 & 11- two strong golf holes with wonderful views. Then things go up a gear with the stunning par 3 twelfth hole. Off the back tees it is a carry of 198 metres to a slightly elevated green on the cliffs beyond.
With the pin at the front of the green, anything short will hit the cliff face, and fall to the white water and rocks of the Pacific Ocean 150 feet below. When we played the wind was at least a club into us, so it was a solid hit.
It is one of the longer sea carries any of us will experience and with the high cliff walls facing us at the front of the green, it is one of the most daunting tee shots I have experienced….
Thirteen, fourteen, fifteen and sixteen are also strong, visual holes with solid strategies…
And then we get to hole 17- a longer par 4 that wraps around the majestic cliffs giving the player the chance to make one more heroic carry to make the fairway. The approach shot here is slightly downhill and needs an accurate long shot in- with cliffs all along the right side of the fairway it’s a tough hole.
The closing hole has a strong collection of bunkers surrounding that final green, meaning you will need to hold your nerve to post a score
Manele is a one of the best courses in Hawaii. Manele is a resort course. It is a cart course. But it is a great course! Any trip to Hawaii playing golf should include Lana'i Golf, Manele
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.
I've never been a huge fan of Nicklaus designs but this one is excellent. The routing and cliff top views are as good as you'll see anywhere in the world and the course conditions are impeccable. The staff top it off with very friendly service and Kendric, the Head Professional looked after us very well. I've visited twice now and will be back again some day.