Staying, playing and exploring in Wailea are doable with three courses
The possibilities are endless on the southwest shore of Maui, where the 1,500 acres of Wailea encompass five resorts, multiple beaches and 54 holes of golf.
Where to start? The links, of course, where Wailea Golf Club has three layouts that beautifully reflect the landscape and culture of the island paradise.
The oldest and most casual of the layouts – Wailea Blue – has a new look for golfers who haven’t visited in a while. In 2014, the Blue Course reconfigured its holes and moved the clubhouse to the heart of Wailea Resort. The renovation also introduced a short-course option, called Blue Wave, and a new pro shop.
The Blue Course remains a classic island layout, with coral sand bunkers, lakes, garden-like landscaping, coconut trees and tropical foliage always in view. One of the prettier holes is the 560-yard 17th, where a tee shot up a massive hill leads to spectacular views of Molokai, the ocean and the green in the distance.
As the former course of the Champions Skins Game and LPGA Skins Game, Wailea’s Gold Course is the most challenging of the three layouts, and architect Robert Trent Jones Jr. did a nice job using the rugged and undulating terrain to incorporate native features such as lava rock outcroppings and papohaku rock walls that present pretty sights and tricky hazards. Every hole comes with broad vistas of the ocean and Mt. Haleakala, with up to six tee boxes on several holes making the layout suitable for all abilities.
Like most people in management, Wailea director of golf operations Rusty Hathaway has a difficult time picking a favorite hole, but there is one on the Gold Course that gets his attention – the 215-yard, par-3 No. 8 and its lava gully between a tee box and green that is framed by coconut trees and backed by ocean views.
“I have 54 favorite holes at Wailea and it’s hard to choose just one, but to me this hole epitomizes what golf in Hawaii is all about,” Hathaway said. “The view is so amazing; it’s difficult to concentrate on your swing.”
Beauty abounds on the Emerald Course as well, with lush landscaping, colorful blossoms and only a few forced carries off the tee giving the layout a gentle feel. But strategy comes into play, with club selection and ball placement keys to scoring well.
A round on the Emerald ends on the highest elevation in Wailea, with the 18th hole sending golfers back to the clubhouse or hotel room with one last panoramic view of the coastline, other islands, tropical landscaping and pockets of black lava.
It might be your favorite, or perhaps not, but that’s part of the fun if all 54 holes are in play.