The Woman’s Golf Guide to Maui

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The Woman’s Golf Guide to Maui

Courses cater to female golfers on the popular Hawaiian island of Maui, where the challenge almost rivals the scenery
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Written By:

Susan Fornoff

Susan Fornoff, a trailblazing sports journalist and the founder of GottaGoGolf.com, is a Colorado-based writer, editor and golf consultant who endeavors to help women have more fun with the game. Susan will play golf anywhere, anytime, with anyone. But her favorite hole is always the 19th.

With the LPGA Tour making a stop in Oahu this April, the LPGA Women’s Network travel correspondent, Susan Fornoff, has put together a guide of places not to be missed if you’re planning a trip to the Hawaiian islands. 

 

Unless you play for the LPGA or PGA tours and have tournament business, you’ve surely traveled to Maui for a vacation. You’ve brought your foursome for a girls’ getaway, your significant other for a romantic respite, your kids and grandkids for some family time . . . or maybe you’ve just rewarded yourself for another year of hard work with an all-about-me, solo vacation.

Here’s the great news for women golfers: There may not be another destination on earth that will show you so much love as a golf trip to Maui. The golf course operators know they’re in the hospitality business, so they welcome women. The staff will try to pair you up with a couple, other women, or even send you out as a twosome. The marshals may flirt with you because you’re a woman, but they will not harass you. The shops are full of high fashion for women golfers, and the latest rental sets are yours to try. The course architect made playability a priority and the superintendent guarantees you a perfect lie (if you keep the ball in the fairway). If you want advice or inspiration, there are plenty of women teachers on the island, and even, at Wailea Golf Club, a woman general manager and a woman restaurateur.

The problem with this destination is narrowing down the choices to just three. Even choosing a home base on Maui poses problems, because both weather and attitude shift slightly from Wailea to Lahaina/Ka’anapali to Kapalua. Just to further confuse, we’re adding the small island of Lanai to the mix, because unless you’ve got a private plane you’re probably taking the ferry over from Maui.

So let’s get started!

PRICE GUIDE


Maui is an expensive destination, so the symbols are for comparative purposes on the island and bear no connection to the range of prices you’ll find in mainland cities. Expect to pay $150 and up for golf, no less than $300 nightly for resort accommodations, and $50+ for dinner with a glass of wine.

GOLF HERE

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Wailea Golf Club ($$)

Wailea Golf Club has three courses, Emerald, Gold, and Blue, and I cannot get a consensus from women on which to play (or which to play first). Two women, Renee Lee and Cathy Torchiana, teach up the hill with a spectacular island vista; another woman, Brenda Rego, is head pro at Blue; Anne Takabuki runs the club; and avid golfer Jennifer McNally handles sales and marketing. Even women who don’t golf will make the clubhouse a destination for the fashion-packed pro shop. Even though Blue is shorter from the forward tees, I recommend the Emerald course for a first-timer, for fabulous views and a friendly layout.
GOLF HERE
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Ka’anapali Golf Courses ($)

You’ll know you’re welcome when a female mannequin wearing golf clothes greets you at the door of the Ka’anapali Golf Courses, which are within walking distance from the beach resorts. The Royal 18 has the prestige and the higher green fee; I recommend the hillside Kai 18, which measures only 4,522 yards from the forward tees and has another option for longer-hitting, female amateurs at 5,563 yards. Either course will have spectacular views and perfect conditions more likely than not. When I visited, the website was offering a week of unlimited golf including rental clubs for under $700, so check for specials before you go.
GOLF HERE
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Kapalua ($$$)

Anyone who watches golf on TV won’t come to Maui without making a tee-time at Kapalua. The Plantation Course has wild and stunning vegetation and elevation changes, and the cameras love it. For women, however, it is a very tough course, at 5,627 yards and a par-75 from the forward tees. So I recommend the 5,119-yard Bay Course, which has hosted an LPGA tournament and where some trees have even been removed recently to open up the ocean views. You won’t forget your score when your tee shot carries the ocean on the 135-yard, par-3 fifth hole.
GOLF HERE

STAY HERE

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The Wailea Beach Resort Marriott ($)

The Wailea Beach Resort Marriott charms visitors upon arrival, with a wide-open lobby area full of comfy couches with ocean views. A stay here comes with three pools, including one quiet spot for adults only and another dominated by two water slides for the kids (and playful adults). There’s a movie theater, a fitness center, a spa, a new restaurant concept from Roy Yamaguchi, plus five other places to eat, and a full slate of free, daily activities including yoga and stuff for kids.
STAY HERE
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Ka’anapali Alii ($$)

For the home-away-from-home feel in the middle of all the action on Ka’anapali beach, I recommend the Alii. A 264-unit, high-rise condo complex built in 1982, it has kept up with the times behind the leadership of a general manager who sweet-talks, cajoles or orders property owners to update regularly. The views are wonderful, and all the $1-million-plus units have 1,500 square feet or more and two bathrooms. I loved the pool and beach service here; one cannot golf all day, even in Maui.
STAY HERE
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Four Seasons Resort Lanai ($$$)

Finally, for luxury, aloha-style, I'm not going to go without mentioning the pricey-but-worth-it Four Seasons Resort Lanai and its Manele Golf Course, where every hole has an ocean vista. These days, one must stay at this property to play the course, so a typical day sees only a score of players. I had the lush fairways to myself—with more groundskeepers than golfers! The rooms have 75-inch TVs, iPads, toilets seats that rise to greet you when you enter the water closet, and push-button panels for opening the window coverings or lighting the mood.
STAY HERE

EAT HERE

Gannon's Restaurant ($)

All three suggestions here overlook golf courses, the ocean, and the sunset. The big patio at Gannon’s is especially alluring at sunset, and the menu changes according to what’s in season. My friend and I shared a King Salmon Stack to start, yet still I somehow managed to take in three huge pancetta-wrapped scallops, served over linguine with grape tomatoes, asparagus, lemon, and kula corn in a pistachio pesto. Next time I’ll try Bev’s Crab Dip.
EAT HERE
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Roy's Restaurant ($)

The restaurant in the Ka’anapali clubhouse has undergone many incarnations, but the latest is a keeper. Maui’s original Roy’s moved in 2012 and caters not only to golfers cooling off after their rounds but to locals and tourists who come just for his signature cuisine.
EAT HERE
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Plantation House ($$$)

If you’re staying at Kapalua—and that could mean in a Fairway condo, at the deluxe Montrose, or at the elegant Ritz-Carlton—plan an open-air, sunset dinner at the Plantation House, where Chef Jojo does his best to distract you from the stunning views with his preparations of what’s fresh and local.
EAT HERE

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