Set out at the start of the rugged Na Pali coast to the north of Kauai, the Makai course at the Princeville Resort was one of Robert Trent Jones Jnr’s earliest designs, first opening for play in 1971. It’s a 27-hole layout, with the easier 9-hole Woods course complementing the 18-hole track. The highly regarded Prince course completes the golfing element at the 45-hole resort and the same architect designed this layout in 1991, with golfers accessing the course via a separate clubhouse, two miles to the east.
Noteworthy par three holes on the front nine at Makai include the 181-yard downhill 3rd, which plays to a water-threatened green, and the 213-yard 7th, where the tee shot must carry a frightening clifftop gully on its way to a distant green. On the inward half, the course routing returns briefly to the Pacific Ocean at the short par four 14th hole before fairways head inland and the round concludes with a meaty left doglegged par five.
Almost forty years after Makai debuted, Trent Jones Jnr returned to carry out an extensive $6 million renovation of the layout and this saw the introduction of Seashore Paspalum grass on all tee boxes, fairways and greens, which has added to the playability and durability of the course. Many of the green complexes and surrounds were also re-shaped, along with a number of the bunkers, and all of these changes have heightened the strategic element of playing here.