Kaanapali Kai: Maui’s Golf Oasis

Home / Kaanapali Kai / Kaanapali Kai: Maui’s Golf Oasis

A new course design; lush, newly updated fairways, tees and greens; and a sense of tranquility await the golfer in search of true paradise. The Ka‘anapali Kai Course is a charmer.

Aloha, I’m Tim Murphy, director of golf at the Ka‘anapali Golf Resort. I’d like to show you our newly updated Ka‘anapali Kai Course, which has been a favorite on Maui for years. Let’s take a look at a course I know you’ll love to play.

Maui’s beloved Ka‘anapali Kai Course has evolved since its early days from a course for the typical resort player into so much more. Nowadays, golfers who are fortunate enough to play this golf course are treated to a much more enjoyable layout, one that beckons you to play the best shots in your bag.

Having undergone a complete redesign and updating of its entire layout, including its tees, bunkers, fairways, and greens, the all-new Ka‘anapali Kai Course represents the state-of-the-art in today’s resort golf.

It all begins from the moment you arrive at Ka‘anapali Golf Resort. You’re greeted with warm, genuine smiles from staff members who have been here for decades to help you with your clubs and get you situated and organized for your day of golf. There is even an orientation and a special gift that the starter imparts to each and every golfer who plays here. It’s all part of a tribute to the lands that Ka‘anapali and the Kai Course are part of: where ancient Hawaiian royalty came to stay and play. It’s true! So much so that “common natives” were not allowed here; instead they had to paddle out to sea and go around this hallowed land. Of course, that was long ago. Now, the people who come here to play are quite ordinary, and some are quite extraordinary too! Just look at the preceding pages, and you’ll get some idea of who has been on these fairways before.

The Ka‘anapali Kai Course ventures out at sea level and then quickly ascends into the foothills. These first five opening holes are unique, in that golfers are treated to a variety of shots that are the perfect way to begin a round of golf. You start with a straightaway par-4, with even lies and rewards to those who place their tee shots just right, then play yet another 4-par that is medium in length, but with some uphill sloping. It is on No. 2, in fact, that you can look off beyond the green toward the right and see the little boats moored along Lahaina’s shoreline.

The Ka‘anapali Kai’s first par 3 is all downhill. In fact, all four of the par 3s on the Kai Course play downhill, and each points toward either the north, or the west, allowing for the prevailing trades to shape more interesting shot-values.

There are views of the neighbor islands from every hole on the Ka‘anapali Kai Course. So vast are the panoramas that you will be glad you brought your camera when you go there.

One of Hawaii’s most prominent course architects was asked to revitalize and update the Ka‘anapali Kai Course. Robin Nelson has designed, refreshed, and redesigned many of the most well-known courses in Hawaii. He has literally helped to make Hawaii the golf destination it is with his award-winning and inspiring course designs. What he did with the Kai Course is the topic of continual praise from those who have lived here and played at Ka‘anapali for years. It is telling when residents, who are often opposed to changing what isn’t broken, actually find themselves delighted with the work Nelson has done.

You wouldn’t know that this golf course ever underwent a major change, but it has, and the end result is that you will find yourself pointed straight at the most beautiful scenery while playing virtually every shot. Further, you will also find that Robin has created a way to play the Kai Course away from trouble on every hole. Hence, you can increase your odds at making birdie, but when doing so, you also increase your risk. It is a trademark of Robin’s to offer every level of golfer distinct opportunities to get into, or out of, trouble.

Robin’s risk/reward approach to the game is fair, and fun too. You won’t find yourself trying to make an impossible shot just to get a peek at par on the Kai Course. Instead, you can breathe a sigh of relief, take out a 3-metal or a hybrid, and still reach the greens in regulation with a short-to-medium iron.

The putting on the Kai Course is a pleasure. Whereas the Royal Ka‘anapali Course will give even the greatest golfers on earth fits, the Kai Course’s greens roll true, and for the most part, are predictable. This ultimately instills confidence in your game, which is why the Kai Course is so much fun to play. And there’s room to miss a shot or two on this course, too. It is more sheltered from the trades, and as such is slightly narrower in some places, but for the most part, the weekend golfer will be able to hit every club in their bag, at some point or another, with self assurance and room for error.

It is the low handicapper who will try to eat the Kai alive, and it is this same golfer who often gets the thorniest feedback, too. That is why the Kai Course has four sets of tees: so the golfer can choose just how much bite they want from the Kai.

The Ka‘anapali Kai Course is a sentimental favorite among west Mauians. It has been a mainstay here for years. Since its recent updating, and that is a conservative description, the Kai has now become a major draw throughout the resident population, and with those in the visitor industry as well. Ask around, and you’ll find most recommend the Kai highly.

I can’t thank you enough for joining me on this tour of the Ka‘anapali Kai Course. We’d love to see you out here, so accept my invitation to play the Ka‘anapali Kai soon.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment