Kauai's Makai Golf Club: Back in business and better than ever

PRINCEVILLE, Hawaii - Makai Golf Club at the St. Regis Princeville Resort on Kauai's North Shore has reopened for play after a multi-million dollar renovation.

Makai Golf Club - hole no. 7
The new bunkers provide plenty of contrast to the paspalum turf on the par-3 seventh hole at Makai Golf Club in Princeville.
Makai Golf Club - hole no. 7
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Robert Trent Jones Jr., who originally designed Makai, also oversaw the renovation. Opened in 1971, the golf course features lakes, woodlands and great views of the Pacific Ocean coastline.

Jones also directed design of the widely acclaimed and nearby Prince Course at Princeville, which opened in 1991.

Troon Golf of Scottsdale, Ariz., which manages Makai, does not manage the Prince Course; it is separately owned. Golfers can obtain packages that include both courses, however.

The Makai project included the reconfiguration of greens complexes, reshaping of the bunkers, cart-path work and upgrading the practice facility. More importantly, the course got new turf – seashore paspalum on tees, fairways and greens. The fine-bladed, saltwater-tolerant grass thrives on coastal golf courses. It also has an unmistakable, bright green hue.

The course also received new bunker sand and an additional 300 yards in length, bringing the par 72 to more than 7,200 yards. Four sets of tees now - there were three - and new tee boxes, give players more options, said Makai Golf Club General Manager Alex Nakajima.

"It's really like a brand new golf course," said Nakajima, who worked at the Prince Course from 1993 to 2000. "The community is very excited about Makai."

Nakajima said Jones added wrinkles near the greens to create more challenges. The new sand is pure-white G3 silica, imported from Vietnam. "That white sand with the green, paspalum fairways is a nice contrast," Nakajima said. "You don't see that much around here."

Although the golf course has yet to receive a new rating, Nakajima said he thinks it plays about five strokes more difficult for a 15-handicapper than before the renovations.

In addition to the course changes, the old clubhouse was demolished with plans to rebuild within a couple years.

Work on the golf course began in late 2008, coinciding with the renovation of the Princeville Hotel. It reopened as the St. Regis Princeville Resort in October 2009. Overlooking beautiful Hanalei Bay, the resort offers 252 guest rooms, a signature restaurant and the hotel's Halelea Spa.

To celebrate the reopening, the resort is offering an "Endless Golf Package" for travel between Jan. 30 and July 1. It includes unlimited golf for two at Makai Golf Club with a minimum stay of five nights required at the St. Regis Princeville Resort. It also includes Callaway rental clubs for two. Rates begin at $610 for one room per night.

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