The Takeaway: A club known more for its clubhouse than the golf course it services, King Kamehameha is a solid track that would be much more enjoyable if the wind wasn't so frequently, and notoriously, strong there. Grade B-
Designer: Ted Robinson 1991; Ted Robinson Jr. 2005 renovation
Phone Number: 808-249-0033
Course Website: Official Website - Visit King Kamehameha Golf Club's official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - 2500 HI-30, Wailuku, Hawaii 96793 – UNITED STATES
What to Expect: One of the few private courses on Maui, The King Kamehameha Golf Club (formerly known as Waikapu Valley Country Club) is also the only track where players are afforded views of both the north and south shores of Hawaii's second largest island. While ocean views and idyllic tropical conditions are often the topic of conversation at Hawaii golf courses, the feature that gets talked about the most at King Kamehameha is certainly the 74,778 square foot Frank Lloyd Wright designed clubhouse that highlights the backdrop of the finishing hole. The three level architectural masterpiece, which at one point was designed for Marilyn Monroe, was constructed in 1993 and hosts a wide variety of cultural art while featuring domed roof tops and a peach colored exterior. The next thing people will surely talk about at the club is the wind. King Kamehameha features a notoriously windy location which is compounded by the fact that the routing has players virtually always playing dead downwind or directly into the wind which unfortunately eliminates some of the variety that could be enjoyed in the golf shots required. While Kapalua is widely known for getting windy, that can feel like a gentle summer breeze compared to the winds that will rip along the foothills of the west Maui mountains and take your hat off with it. There is a nice amount of movement in the terrain and bunkers placed that aid in the hole designs, but a couple of one-shotters and the finishing par five are what steal the show. In the end, Maui's oldest private club is a nice track but not one of the island's elite layouts. The clubhouse is certainly worth a visit, but if you are going to tee it up you better brace yourself for an extremely windy day.
By the Numbers
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 18th Hole – 559 Yard Par 5 – The closing hole at King Kamehameha is the one that everyone talks about and remembers. The final par five gives players the pleasure of having the wind at their back with one last chance to reach a green in two. With the breeze helping, the only fairway bunker that should be a consideration is the second one on the left before the rise in the fairway gives way to the impressive second shot where water flanks the left with a waterfall tumbling off the green's edge. The iconic clubhouse sets the backdrop with another waterfall sitting between the clubhouse and the green and stands ready to award a draw that works off the bunker on the right side and works towards the flag. It is a great risk/reward opportunity to finish on and stands as one of the most memorable holes on Maui.
Best Par 3: 3rd Hole – 257 Yards – With the ocean and Maui's mountain coastline creating the background, this lengthy one-shotter descends 65 feet enroute to the green and plays downwind, so the effective yardage is quite a bit less than the number on the scorecard. Bunkers cover each side and the rear of the green but the front is wide open for players that want to bound their ball onto the putting surface. It's a beautiful hole and an exciting green to hit in regulation if you can manage it.
Best Par 4: 6th Hole – 388 Yards – Despite playing uphill, Mother Nature makes sure the 6th also plays downwind which will require less than driver in order to stay short of the water that crosses the hole short of the green. The approach shot plays uphill and away from players to the right with a waterfall cascading down to the hazard which starts 75 yards short of the green's center. The uphill approach shot needs to fight the wind to stay accurate since the green is twice as deep as it is wide.
Best Par 5: 11th Hole – 545 Yards – The downhill 11th has views across Maui's landscape for miles with a cross breeze coming off the left to contend with. The fairway tilts to the right which encourages players to keep their tee shot up the left side to maximize the amount of roll available. At the end of the fairway a bunker resides and turns the short grass 90 degrees left towards a pond that fronts the green. The chance of an uneven lie is high while the two-tiered green has a front third that can be accessed by spinning a wedge off the tier and a rear portion that brings a bunker into play. Getting home in two is a risky proposition, but the putting surface is perfect for attacking with a wedge.
Birdie Time: 1st Hole – 580 Yard Par 5 – The opening hole at King Kamehameha offers an impressive view of the ocean along Maui's southern coast. The hole plays downhill and downwind which will give players an opportunity to get home in two when they normally wouldn't when covering this amount of distance. A bunker sits on the right side of the fairway that tilts from right to left with the approach shot playing to a raised green with a deep bunker at the front left. Second shots that stay up the right side will have an opportunity to kick onto the putting surface with a chance to roll in an eagle. Players that come up short will still have a scoring club in their hand with a chance to flag one close and pick up a birdie.
Bogey Beware: 14th Hole – 427 Yard Par 4 – The 14th is a tough dogleg left that plays dead into the wind. The fairway tilts strongly from left to right which will result in an uneven lie as players try to bore their approach shot through the wind to a green that is fronted by water. It is easy for a ball to balloon and sail right off the uneven lie and drop in the pond short and right of the green. With nowhere to bail out, this is the toughest green in regulation on the course.