Nice and cozy
Kaanapali's courses and nearby lodging make for a stress-free stay
If you have an “a” game, bring it to Kaanapali. If not, the site with more vowels than consonants in its name is still great for a relaxing round of golf.
Make that two rounds, as the Royal and Kai layouts at Kaanapali Golf Courses in West Maui are a nice blend of resort golf with enough challenge to keep you on your toes from start to finish.
Royal Kaanapali, built in 1962 and designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., has played host to such events as the Champions Tour’s Kaanapali Classic, LPGA Kemper Cup and Shell's Wonderful World of Golf, with golf greats such as Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Chi Chi Rodriguez and Betsy King competing there. It was the first resort course in Hawaii for Jones, who crafted undulating greens and wide fairways to highlight views of the ocean and West Maui Mountains.
Royal Kaanapali’s routing has an oceanfront green on the fifth hole and middle holes on bluffs above the highway. Trade winds also add to the risk/reward aspects at the course that closes with a hole that Palmer was called one of the best closers in the game because of water along the left side of the fairway from tee to green and the prevailing wind blowing from left to right.
The Kaanapali Kai course opened a few years later than Royal and received an extensive renovation in 2005. The course is shorter but narrower in most spots, with several holes tucked into the mountains. The renovated layout makes good use of the site’s canals, lava rock formations and gullies. It also added significant plantings of Norfolk pine and coconut palm trees that add beautiful touches to the layout while also acting as guides for shots.
All of the resorts are an easy walk or a few minutes by car from the golf clubhouse.
One of those options is the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa, a 23-acre property at the foot of Black Rock. Its lush lawns, lengthy lagoon-style pool and a nightly cliff diving ceremony make it ideal for families, buddy trips or a couples’ getaway. The romance for the latter is enhanced by the sweeping views of the ocean, mountains and other islands, in addition to the Sheraton’s option for Dinner Under the Stars, where good food, an intimate setting and top service add to the appeal and possibilities.