Golf arrived at the Wailea Golf Club on the southwest coast of Maui in the early 1970s when Jack Synder laid out the graceful, classic Blue and Orange 18-hole courses, incorporating ancient stone walls and natural lava outcrops into the design well before it became the fashionable thing for architects to do.
The Blue course still survives, but the Orange course was built over in the mid-1990s when Robert Trent Jones Jnr designed the Gold and Emerald 18-hole layouts. Host venue for the now defunct Champions Skins Game between 2001 and 2007, the Gold course is the longest and toughest of the three 18-hole layouts at Wailea.
Feature holes include the heavily sand-protected short par four 6th, followed by the hole regarded as the most difficult on the property, the right doglegged 590-yard 7th. On the back nine, the long par four 14th plays to the only water-guarded green on the layout, with a small pond sitting to the right of the putting surface.
Wailea Resort on the leeward coast of south west Maui is blessed with golden beaches, and the best golfing weather on Maui. Sunshine, light breezes, and just 11 inches of rain a year sounds just too good to be true! It really is golfing paradise.
The Resort boasts five luxury hotels, and quite a number of condominiums, spas, restaurants and lots of high end shopping. With it's constant balmy weather, and choice of activities, Wailea has something for everyone.
Golf forms an integral part of the Wailea Resort, with three highly regarded courses, two clubhouses, and extensive practice facilities.
The Gold was designed by Robert Trent Jones Jnr in conjunction with his work on The Emerald Course, and opened in 1994 to criticial acclaim. The Gold Course is regularly rated as one of the better resort courses in the USA.
At 7078 yards from the tips, 'Gold' is the longest and the most challenging of the courses at Wailea. There are some forced carries off the tees, and approaches to greens on some holes can be a little more challenging, with less 'bail out' spots.
After all this is the championship course at Wailea and has hosted the Wendy's Champions Skins Game from 2001-2007.
The course is routed through some undulating terrain, starting with the downhill first with it's magnificent ocean views. RTJ Jnr has used the movement to advantage creating some dramatic holes.
With multiple tees on every hole the course is playable for players of every level, but will tend to be the course the better players gravitate to. It combines a challenging golf course in tip top condition with a magnificent setting. That's a nice combo!
Because the carries are longer, and the gullies and rugged gorges are full of all sorts of colourful vegetation- frangipanis, bougainvilleas etc- the Gold course looks even more impressive than the Emerald, in my opinion.It is very picturesque.
My only criticism is that the closing stretch of holes tend to include a number of parallel fairways as the courses heads back and forth across the slopes...
Notable holes include:
- the downhill dogleg par 4 first- a very pretty starter if ever there was one!
- the short par 4 sixth hole which really gets the golfer thinking! The green is drivable for the long hitter, but is an easy birdie if you can place your tee shot short of the bunkers and hit an accurate wedge. Stay out of the bunkers at all costs!
- the double dogleg par 5 seventh hole. It's a true par 5
- the par 3 eighth hole over the gully and downhill is probably the candidate for signature hole- even though Wailea says the don’t have one! It does look very intimidating!
- the short par 4 ninth hole presents you with two visually 'in your face' moments- first with the long carry over the gorge off the tee, and then with the short iron into a green drowning in bunkers…
- the short par 3 eleventh hole is a cute green surrounded by 5 biggish bunkers. It’s just a nice hole to play.
- the final hole is a longer par 4 playing blind over a ridge. The downhill approach to the well bunkered green has the ocean and the clubhouse as a backdrop.
The Gold Course should be played by every golfer who lands on Maui. It is certainly one of the top couple of courses on the island, and one of the better courses in Hawaii
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.