Hualalai Golf Club - Nicklaus Course
|Championship (W)||72||6632 yards||78.3||137|
|Regular (W)||72||6032 yards||74.9||130|
|Mua (W)||72||5374 yards||71.2||117|
|Mahope M: 74.1/129||397||434||422||526||205||392||556||227||461||3620||566||416||167||387||519||428||440||164||410||3497||7117|
|Championship M: 71.5/126 W: 78.3/137||363||394||396||505||174||359||538||217||425||3371||547||389||145||359||502||384||408||161||366||3261||6632|
|Regular M: 68.5/123 W: 74.9/130||328||357||362||463||151||319||492||203||382||3057||517||345||131||330||493||322||369||143||325||2975||6032|
|Mua M: 65.4/113 W: 71.2/117||303||323||327||409||126||288||422||166||348||2712||473||323||97||303||435||294||316||126||295||2662||5374|
Great course but Four Seasons prices
I love Hualalai but at $290 it's overpriced. If you're going to shell out and play, try to tee off around 10am. Trade winds don't start until about then and before that it's pretty hot & sticky.
Pace of play is pretty awesome. Played as a twosome in about 3h15m-3h30m. Played as a single first off the tee on the day I was flying home and finished in just over 2h!
Bunkers desperate for attention
I have played this course 7 different times. Last November 2015 the bunkers had not been maintained. Many fairway bunkers and green side bunkers were packed down like hard pan. I complained about this in November. In May I played here again, and the condition of the bunkers had not been improved. I don't consider these Four Seasons standards, and don't justify the $275 greens fee in November not the $295! I paid in May. In May I sent an email to the director of golf operations for Hualalai complaining again, and I didn't even receive the courtesy of a response. I have to wonder what has happened to the Four Seasons philosophy of exceeding expectations. Apparently it has been lost.
Where to begin? I was fortunate enough to honeymoon in Hawaii back in February 2013, and even more fortunate to stay at the Four Seasons Hualalai for 6 days. With a wonderful (and incredibly understanding) wife comfortably treating herself to the luxuries of the resort, I simply had to get out there and play this course. It was one of the most incredible golfing experiences I have ever had.
While the course is right on the property of the Four Seasons, the way everything is quietly tucked away behind trees and landscaping make the 5 minute walk to the clubhouse from the resort all the more incredible. One minute you're on the beach having breakfast with a mimosa, the next you're in the pro shop. Because of the high-end nature of this place - it is one of the nicest hotels in the world - the pro shop is both luxurious and quiet. Facilities are everything you could possibly need and expect in a private club. Of course, you're paying for it.
More importantly, the golf course. The front 9 plays out and up into the hills that overlook the resort property and crystal blue ocean below. The contrast between the dark lava rock and the lush green fairways is stunning. It is a resort course and the fairways are wide, allowing you to hit the big stick off the tee quite often. Some of the holes have incredibly unique features, like a par 5 that is literally split horizontally by a large lava rock wall, requiring a bling shot over the wall to the fairway and green beyond.
As you make the turn, you've come back down towards sea level, and some nice dogleg par 4s await. If the wind wasn't kickin' up top, it will be now. The rounds gets better and better as you go. Nicklaus put a bunker smack in the middle of the green of a par-3 -- it's awesome. Finally, you come to 16, where you're playing into a green set against the water, and then heading to 17, one of the nicest par 3s I've ever played, and the signature hole on the golf course (I assume). 18 tee is also on the water, and the hole plays back into the clubhouse with the surrounding resort.
The conditions of the course were impeccable. The pace of play? What pace of play? The resort is so exclusive, you'd be lucky to spot another golfer.
Then there is the price. Between rental clubs and fees, I paid well over $300. Worth it just for one round? Without a shred of a doubt. But the greens fees give you access to the course for the entire day. That means free replays. I went off at 7am, finished my morning round at 10, then spent the entire day with my wife at the pool (after all, it was my honeymoon). At 4pm, I went back to the course where they had all of my stuff waiting for me and off I went solo. I made the turn in under 90 min, and the head pro was nice enough to drive my wife out so she could ride with me for the final 9. A Hawaiian sunset while you're golfing on one of the nicest ocean courses imaginable? Yes, please. Did the 35mph afternoon winds that accompanied my afternoon round take anything away from the smile on my face? Not for a second. In fact, as we came in on 18, I hit an approach shot from a fairway bunker to about 12 feet as the gallery in the restaurant above the green enjoyed dinner and drinks on the patio. After 36 holes of some of the most enjoyable golf I've ever played, I got a round of applause from the gallery to finish the day. Now how about that.
If you're lucky enough to have the chance to play this course, you should jump at it. It's amazing.
Even better the second time around
Think of it this way: My first round on the Nicklaus course at Hualalai last January was a blind date. My next round 10 months later was the second date where I fell hard for this beauty. Hualalai's nuances don't really show up until you've played the course a couple of times. The first time it feels like just another high-end resort course where you can spray it and still enjoy it. The second time you realize there's some great variety ... a bunker in the middle of a green, a risk-reward blind shot over black lava rock, fun doglegs, short par 4s and jaw-dropping oceanfront holes. Mauna Lani and Mauna Kea might be prettier, but Hualalai might be the most fun to play. To be honest, I haven't paid much attention to the TV broadcast of Hualalai's Champions Tour event. I'll be watching now.
A Four Seasons-caliber golfer experience at the Hualalai Golf Club on Hawaii
Only guests of the Four Seasons Hualalai have access to the Jack Nicklaus design right next door. (The Tom Weiskopf course is a private members course).
The Nicklaus course has hosted the Champions Tour since 1997, crowning an impressive list of winners, notably Hale Irwin (1997, 2007), local home owner Tom Watson (2010) and Bernhard Langer (2009, 2014).
Although it can play tough when the wind kicks up, Hualalai was designed to be resort-friendly. Wide fairways and relatively flat greens with only subtle breaks make it playable for everybody. There are few forced carries, just the tee shot on the par-3 fifth hole over a lake and a bite-off-as-much-as-you-can tee shot over marsh on the final hole, a dogleg left par-4. The most intriguing challenge comes on the par-5 seventh hole, which always provides fireworks during the tournament. Rock lava flows on either side of the fairway pinch tight to form a narrow tunnel. These black rocks create an intimidating blind second shot. The hole is short enough that going for the green is an option, but most golfers are just concerned about clearing the lava to reach the other side. The round climaxes as the 16th green and the par-3 17th hole sit right on the ocean shore. Views like these are worth the long flight from the mainland.