Story by Lehia Apana | Photography by Artin Ahmadi
If location is everything, Wailea has it all. Set along Maui’s southern coast, it ticks all the boxes of what a premier golf destination should be. Year-round sunshine? Check. Panoramic oceanviews? Check. 10,023-foot volcano—you know, for atmosphere? Check.
Add in five world-class resort hotels, more than 150,000 square feet of upscale shopping, and the only fifty-four holes of championship golf on Maui, and it begins to sink in—Wailea is much more than the sum of its parts.
”You have the finest golf, the finest hotels, the finest selection of chefs, great beaches and water activities, and it’s all within a 1,500-acre resort,” raves Jennifer McNally, director of sales and marketing at Wailea Golf.
“The biggest advantage of coming to Wailea is the variety,” she adds. “Within one resort it’s five minutes from your hotel door to the clubhouse—and three championship courses to choose from.”
Here’s a look at what’s on offer.
Call it the Gold standard. Wailea’s crown jewel is the course by which to measure all others. Its unapologetically demanding design moves with the terrain’s natural landscape, making it a favorite among serious players.
Former host of the Champions Skins Game, the Gold has tested golf greats such as Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. But you don’t have to play like a pro to take advantage of this course—four to six tee boxes on every hole make it suitable for all levels.
Papohaku, prehistoric lava-rock walls built by ancient Hawaiians, dot the 7,078-yard Gold, providing a true sense of place with every shot. Coupled with panoramic views of Molokini and Kaho‘olawe on the horizon, golfers are treated to that “only-in-Maui” moment at every hole.
Move over diamonds; the Emerald is truly a girl’s best friend. With few forced carries from the resort and forward tees, wider landing zones and spacious fairways, this 6,825-yard layout has earned a reputation as Wailea’s most female friendly.
“With the Emerald, there aren’t a lot of ravines or lava-rock outcroppings or lakes or other obstacles that the ball has to carry, so visually that’s less intimidating for any golfer,” McNally explains.
Plus, she adds, “The yardage for women is such that it’s possible for the average golfer to reach the greens in regulation.”
As compared to the rugged feel of the Gold, wider fairways framed by tropical blossoms give the Emerald a decidedly softer aesthetic.
Wailea Old Blue
Before the resorts, there was the Wailea Blue. Built in 1972, and aptly referred to as “the Grand Lady of Wailea,” it laid claim to this part of the island when it was barely a blip on travelers’ radar.
The 6,765-yard Blue is a true Hawaiian resort course, weaving throughout and offering a picturesque tour of Wailea.
“It wanders,” Renee Lee, instructor at Wailea Golf’s David Leadbetter Golf Academy, says of the Old Blue. “You have to think, ‘Wait, now how many holes have I played?’ because it just keeps going.”
This scenic charmer is gentle enough for the newbie golfer, but elevation changes and strategically placed hazards appeal to the veteran players as well.
The perfect climate for golf
Whether you’re an avid shooter aiming to drop your handicap or a Sunday afternoon amateur, Wailea has a course to match.
“It’s a nice juxtaposition,” McNally says of Wailea’s golf options. “You have the more traditional and historical Blue, and then you have the grand and somewhat opulent Gold and Emerald where everything is big.”
Then there’s the weather. Situated on Maui’s leeward coast, Wailea sees just eleven inches of rainfall yearly. Even the dormant volcano Haleakalā, towering overhead, serves as a natural windbreak.
“When people come to Hawai‘i to play golf, they don’t want to fight the elements, and when you come to Wailea, the weather is perfect,” Lee says. She adds with a chuckle, “The only thing that you have to deal with is your own golf game.”
Wailea Golf has partnered with five Wailea Resort hotels—Fairmont Kea Lani Maui, Four Seasons Resort Maui, Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa, Hotel Wailea, and Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa—treating guests to preferred tee times and promotions throughout the year.
Those guests can sample every club in their bag at a twelve-acre training facility, or swing by the award-winning pro shop—named six times to Golf World Business magazine’s list of the top 100 golf shops in America.
Wailea Golf Club also hosts Hawai‘i’s only David Leadbetter Golf Academy, with instruction designed by the man who coached such greats as Ernie Els and Nick Price. Hawai‘i’s own Michelle Wie is another of Leadbetter’s star students.
Many happy returns
At Wailea Golf Club, repetition is the best form of flattery. With more than 70 percent of its customers repeat guests, the facilities are constantly being upgraded. Among its newest amenities is a Rehabilitation Therapy Service featuring on-site massage therapists.
Frequent golfers can take advantage of the Seahorse Swing package offering three days of unlimited play at the Gold and Emerald Courses ($495 January 9 to April 30).
“A solid percentage of our golfers play three or more rounds with us, so the Seahorse Swing package gives significant savings,” says McNally. “It’s our most popular package and really appeals to the avid golfer.”
The less ambitious can still make the most of their vacation with Wailea Golf’s “Stay & Play” specials, featuring discounts on golf and hotel bundles.
For information, call 875-7450 or visit www.waileagolf.com.