Originally established as a 9-hole course on an old sugar cane plantation, the course at Puakea Golf Club was extensively redesigned and extended by Robin Nelson before it re-opened to the public as a daily fee facility in 2003.
Unfortunately, the golf course closed until further notice in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
So much of Hawaii golf is based on the self-created hype from the constant bombardment of marketing messages from the big time resorts. Few actually deliver. And, candidly, one of the really interesting surprises comes from the public course Puakea.
Although there's been comment on the first five holes being adequate -- I really enjoyed the par-4 3rd with the way the water pushes right up to the putting surface. When the pin is cut on the left side the slightest pull will make a quick splash and watery death.
The holes that follow for the bulk of the course have the benefit in being on more hilly terrain and blend nicely into what Mother Nature originally provided. Credit architect Robin Nelson in fashioning a range of fun holes and, at the same time, keeping playability front and center so long as one chooses the appropriate tee box.
Puakea gets little attention because it doesn't have a mega marketing amplifying budget. But, the locals know full well on the quality golf found there. When going to Kauai be sure to keep a time slot open and check it out.
M. James Ward
Puakea Golf Club is a public access golf course in Lihue on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. The course was originally built as a 9-hole facility on an old sugar cane plantation just 2 miles from Lihue airport.
In 2003 the course re opened after a major makeover from noted architect Robin Nelson. Nelson made full use of the terrain to craft an entertaining 18 holes of golf.
After a quite opening few holes through a housing estate the course heads into tropical jungle with significant elevation changes and water hazards featuring and all with a magnificent mountain backdrop.
It is quite a dramatic course from hole 6 onward.
Puakea is a quality course in a memorable setting.
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.
One of the most underrated golf courses in Hawaii. The first few holes provide a straight ahead warmup for the great golf to come. Great mountain views, jungle encroaching on several holes and great use of bunkering and approach shots makes Puakea a great gem of a course on Kuaui.