The Takeaway: While the Palmer course at Turtle Bay is often regarded as one of Oahu's best, it is more due to a lack of quality golf on Oahu than it is a tip of the hat to this north shore track. Grade C
Designer: Arnold Palmer 1992
Cost: $229 - $279 (Includes cart) Click for current rates
Phone Number: 808-293-8574
Course Website: Official Website - Visit Turtle Bay Resort (Palmer)'s official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - 57-091 Kamehameha Hwy, Kahuku, Hawaii 96731 – UNITED STATES
What to Expect: If you've played much golf in the Hawaiian Islands, it doesn't take long to realize that Oahu has the greatest amount of population and the least amount of good golf. That being said, if you find yourself on the north shore of Hawaii's capital state, Turtle Bay is the place to play. The resort formerly touted 36 holes of golf, 18 designed by Arnold Palmer and 18 more by George Fazio, but the COVID-19 pandemic caused Turtle Bay to close the Fazio courses due to lack of play. While the pandemic increased play in 49 states given the ability to enjoy the game while experiencing social distancing, there is one state in the union that relies on tourist play more than another other; the Aloha State. It also shut down Ko'olau which was often regarded as Oahu's best course and was certainly its most difficult. When playing Palmer's course at Turtle Bay you can count on hospitable service as the perhaps the biggest highlight since the golf course itself does little to engage players or deliver a compelling golfing experience. The hole designs are fine, but they offer little that is unique compared to thousands of other golf holes across the country. The 17th is the hole that gets the most attention and finishes with an ocean view, but for a course so close to the Pacific, the course is nearly devoid of glimpses of it. There aren't any poor features at Turtle Bay, but the mostly flat terrain and uninspiring hole designs don't offer much memorability in the layout either.
By the Numbers
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 17th Hole – 452 Yard Par 4 – Turtle Bay's signature hole doesn't appear special on the tee as the surprise is unveiled later. Players' eyes are instantly drawn to the large bunker straightaway with the ideal play being over, or to the left of it. With nine bunkers throughout the hole there is plenty of sand to deal with, five of which you'll carry enroute to the two-tier green. Once onboard the putting surface players are offered the best view of the day with expansive panoramas along Oahu's northern coast.
Best Par 3: 15th Hole – 201 Yards – An uphill one-shotter that plays over the corner of a pond, the 15th will require an extra club to reach the putting surface; and that's on a calm day. The trade winds are in your face on this hole so calculating wind strength versus the loft of your club and subsequent backspin created can result in a challenging green in regulation.
Best Par 4: 7th Hole – 394 Yards – The short dogleg left 7th hole features water up the left side before yielding to another water hazard that covers the front of the green on the approach shot. The stone faced putting surface slopes off on each side edge while the center features a high point. A good drive here sets up a great chance for a birdie.
Best Par 5: 18th Hole – 577 Yards – The closer at Turtle Bay is one of its best holes, and certainly the finest three-shotter on the property. The inviting fairway will catch most drives before tightening up as it winds between water hazards on each side of the short grass. The short route to the green is over the pond on the right while players laying up on the left need to find a position that won't bring the lone tree into play on the approach shot. A quartet of bunkers start on the left side and run behind the green and end up being a popular miss for players to find. Standing on the green players will get a glimpse of the ocean through the trees.
Birdie Time: 14th Hole – 379 Yard Par 4 – A shorter par four that plays downwind, the 14th is begging you to come birdie it. Tee shots that stay up the right half of the fairway will be rewarded with a full look into the green away from the tree laced left side. The high spot in the center of the green makes attacking the left side extremely inviting while flags in the back right will need to carry a bunker enroute to their destination.
Bogey Beware: 11th Hole – 457 Yard Par 4 – The difficult 11th plays as a dogleg right and is one of the most difficult tee shots of the day. A heavy tree line frames the left side while water up the right side becomes a bigger factor to consider with the prevailing wind pushing balls towards the water. The lengthy approach shot plays to a back to front sloping green fronted by water that is ready to drown balls that come up wanting.