Great golf value on Maui? It exists at Kahili Golf Course
WAILUKU, Hawaii - Tucked into the foothills of the West Maui Mountains sits one of those hidden golf gems you read about but hardly ever check out.
Kahili Golf Course should be checked out.
Away from the hustle and bustle, you'll find an 18-hole, par-72 course. Yes, there's hustle and bustle on Maui, but not at Kahili, with no housing projects or highways in sight. So let your mind wander to the amazing views of the island and challenge your golf game.
The golf course is a 6,570-yard layout designed by Robin Nelson and Rodney Wright in 1991. But don't let the length alter you perception of this golf course; the elevation changes that golfers face on nearly every hole add or remove yardage.
With the wind as an aid, it's the kind of course on which you can score well. But a few missed shots here and there can leave players shaking their heads and wondering what happened.
"It's just the best golf value in Maui," said Rick Castillo, director of golf.
The most expensive price for 18 holes is $95 and that's for prime-time play.
"We have about 50 percent visitors on any given day," Castillo said, "so the word is getting out that this is a great golf course to play."
Castillo, who also oversees operations at King Kamehameha Golf Club - the private, sister club just up the road - said there's a reason for all the repeat business at Kahili.
"Both courses have the same conditions, and it's just a pure golf experience," Castillo said.
Frank Shearer, on a family outing with son-in-law Paul Ziccarelli, was quick to agree.
"I'm in Hawaii and playing golf at a great price," Shearer said. "You can't ask for much more than that."
Ziccarelli said the golf course impressed him. "It's a nicely conditioned course," he said. "We play it just about every year, and we will continue to play it every time we come to Maui."
Kahili Golf Course's stand-out par 3s
On the course, the par 3s really stand out. Elevation changes, water and bunkers come into play, but wind that serves as the key factor.
Take the 190-yard eighth hole, for example. It's all carry over a pond that attracts native birds as your audience.
A pair of bunkers guard the diagonal green on the right, so there is bailout area to the left. But a false-front on the green can be deadly. Take an extra club. Oh, and again, allow for the wind. It can knock down shots very quickly.
Most finishing holes are long and challenging. Here, it's short and challenging.
Playing just 358 yards from the tips, No. 18 presents a severe dogleg to the left. Trees on the left can wreak havoc for those looking to cut the corner. Use a hybrid, and set up a short second shot to a green that slopes severely from back to front.
Get above the hole, and you're dead, because it's like putting on a glass tabletop. Leave your shot below the hole, and you'll have a solid putt at birdie and a great end to a great round.
"This is a testament to a well-designed golf course," Castillo said. "If you're looking for quality golf at a great price, this is it."
Overall, there are no bells and whistles at Kahili - just straightforward golf in an amazing destination, Maui.
"It may be a shorter golf course, but it's, by no means, a pushover," Castillo said. "It plays through a forest of kiawe trees that really add to the test. It's just a beautiful course."
Kahili Golf Course: Pro shop
From clothing to clubs to knick-knacks, the spacious Kahili golf shop - and we do mean huge - has it all.
Practice at Kahili Golf Course
You'll find a generous layout to warm up those muscles, which won't take much time in the warmth of 75 degrees-plus. The putting and chipping greens are in great shape and replicate course conditions nicely.
Dining at Kahili Golf Course
Before or after your round, check out the Kahili Restaurant. Variety is the name of the game, with entrees featuring cuisine that will satisfy any appetite. Whether it's the coconut-breaded shrimp, the shredded Kalua spring pork rolls or just a burger or sandwich, prepare to be impressed by Chef Eddie Munoz's creations.
On Friday nights, Kahili has an all-you-can-eat seafood and prime rib buffet. It's gotten so popular, they take reservations. Play a round of golf and stay for the buffet. It doesn't get much better than that.