10 Best Courses on Oahu
O’ahu is a special place. It has the third largest population of the Hawaiian Islands with just over one million inhabitants. It is sometimes known as “The Gathering Place” and is home to most of Hawaii’s diverse population. The island features a blend of Eastern and Western cultures rooted in the values and traditions of the Native People. There is much to see and do on O’ahu, but let’s face it you came to read about golf.
In truth, O’ahu could be named “Golfing Paradise”. The island features more golf courses than any other Hawaiian Island at 40, both public and private. Each course has its own challenges, a unique layout and incredible scenery.
If you’re planning a golfing vacation to America’s 50th State, then O’ahu has to be the destination of choice. But all that choice can make things a little confusing. That’s where this article comes in as we look at the 12 Best Golf Courses in Oahu!
Where To Base Yourself
You’ll probably find Honolulu is the best place to find accommodation. It is the largest city and state capital. You shouldn’t have any problems finding something to suit your budget – well ok holidays can be pretty expensive these days! This should give you plenty of opportunity to spend time down at Waikiki, one of the most famous areas for tourists to visit.
Now on to the pick of Oahu golf courses …
Kapolei Golf Club
Designed by Ted Robinson (designer of Sahalee) this beautiful course has played host to both the Champions Tour and the LPGA. Although the fairways are fairly generous there are 5 lakes and 80 bunkers to keep you on your toes. Green fees are $185 per round although you can save some money using the twilight rate of $135. From the very back tees, you are looking at a testing 7001 yards! The 18-hole course has a par of 72 and rating of 74.3 and slope of 136 from the tips.
Laid out over 190 acres of former sugar plantation Kapolei offers plenty of challenges for all.
Voted the best course in Oahu by a local newspaper in 2010 and 2014.
Waialae Country Club
When a course becomes a regular feature on the PGA Tour schedule then its quality goes without saying. Waialae Country Club has played host to the Sony Open in Hawaii since its inception in 1965 when it was known as the Hawaiian Open. Some of the greats of the game have won the event including Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Hale Irwin, Vijay Singh and Ernie Els.
The 7,012-yard Par 72 layout – reduced to a par 70 for the Sony Open – was first opened in 1927. The course design has a variety of influences and keen observers will note similarities to courses from all over the world, including France, Long Island and Scotland, especially the world-famous Road Hole at St Andrew’s.
The downside to Waialae is that it is a private club and tee times are only available for non-members by way of invitation. That being said, the effort of getting a tee time is repaid by the chance to play a world-class course and walk in the footsteps of some of the greats.
Hawaii Prince Golf Club
Opened in 1992 this 27-hole complex was designed by Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay on land that used to be used for growing sugar cane. The three nines are known simply as A, B and C and feature white sand bunkers and 10 strategically placed lakes.
The longest combination is the B and C nines at 7255 yards with a course rating of 74.8 and a slope of 134.
Green fees for visitors are $159 while Hawaii residents can play for as little as $65 on a weekday. Set on 270 acres overlooking the Waianae Mountains, Hawaii Prince offers a challenging round of golf.
Ko Olina Resort
While Waialae can boast a PGA Tour event, Ko Olina Golf Club can brag about featuring on the LPGA Tour schedule. The course hosted the Hawaiian Open from 1990 to 1995, the Fields Open from 2006-2008 and most recently the LOTTE Championship from 2012 to 2019. In 1992 it also made an appearance on the Champions Tour when it hosted the Ko Olina Senior PGA Tour Invitational.
It was built in 1990 by architect Ted Robinson. In the past, it has won a multitude of impressive accolades such as Best Golf Course on O’ahu, Golf Digest Top 75 Resort Course and Top 100 Golf Shops in the U.S.
The par 72 measures 6,815 yards and features exceptional water features, multi-tiered greens and large landing areas. It is perfect for experienced and beginner players alike and is a challenging course to all levels of golfers.
Green fees are on the expensive side with Standard Rates coming in at $255 + tax while Twilight Rates (after 1pm) cost $190 + tax.
Arnold Palmer Course at Turtle Bay
There are 36 holes of championship golf at Turtle Bay Resort, the Arnold Palmer Course and the George Fazio Course. And while both are spectacular, there’s no doubt that the Palmer Course is superior. It played host to the Turtle Bay Championship on the PGA Champions Tour from 2001 to 2008 (no tournament in 2004).
The course only opened in 1992 and in that same year was listed as one of Golf Magazine’s “Top 10 New Courses” in America and 4th among Golf Digest’s “Best New Resort Courses in America”. The Palmer Course offers a varied challenge with a Scottish Links style layout for the front nine and a more tropical setup on the back nine.
At 7,218 yards off the back sticks with a choice of 5 different tees available, this par 72 will thrill all levels of golfer. Standard rates for visitors start at $229 with Twilight rates priced from $159.
Royal Hawaiian Golf Club
When a course is described as ‘Jurassic Park’, you know you’re in for something spectacular. The Royal Hawaiian Golf Club was designed by renowned golf course designer, Pete Dye and his son, Perry before being recently redesigned by Australian golfing legend Greg Norman.
The spectacular 6,609-yard par 72 layout will stun and amaze at every turn. It features native and exotic plants and beautiful wildlife including red-vented bulbuls, egrets and Auku’u, a rare Hawaiian bird that thrives in the course’s surroundings.
Green fees cost $165 per person regardless of time.
Hawaii Kai Golf Course
Strictly speaking, there are two courses, the Championship and the Executive at Hawaii Kai.
The Championship course was put together by William Bell and opened for play in 1973. It stretches to 6500 yards with a par of 72. It is rated at 70 with a slope of 124. Weekday green fees are $145 rising to $165 at the weekend.
Ocean views are a prime selling point but that means the wind can also play a part in your game!
One of the most famous designers created the Executive course in 1962. Robert Trent Jones Sr. put together an 18-hole par-3 layout that covers 2196 yards and will set you back $40 per round if you walk rather than ride.
Olomana Golf Links
With the Ko’olau mountain range as a backdrop, it’s no wonder that former President Obama still nips back to Olomana to play golf occasionally. The course was designed by Bob Baldock and opened in the late 1960s.
International visitors pay the most with rates starting at $120, US citizens can play from $90 and local residents can play for as little as $32 when walking. I wonder if the President gets courtesy of the course?
360o Ewa Beach Golf Club
There’s a trend emerging…that every golf club in O’ahu is amazing. 360o Ewa Beach Golf Club is no exception to this. The links-style 18-hole Championship layout was designed by Robin Nelson and opened in 1992.
The course is immaculately maintained and offers a unique challenge from the first hole. Your opening tee shot is played over the remains of a kūlanakauhale or ancient Hawaiian fishing village, and throughout the round numerous native birds can be seen including the endangered ae’o.
Standard prices vary from $167 to $195 per person with Twilight prices costing $135. Well worth its place in this list of best Oahu golf courses.
Kahuku Golf Course
The final course on this list is very different from the others. Kahuku Golf Course is one of a small number of state-owned municipal courses on the island. The course doesn’t have the glitz and glamour of other courses. It has no pro shop or restaurant, and players are encouraged to bring their own food with them.
As it is a beachfront course though, it has incredible sea views. It’s only nine holes and measures 2,699 yards and 18 holes can cost around $30. It’s a no-frills course that is designed to be fun and enjoyable. And sometimes that’s the best thing for golfers. To just play without worry. A great choice if you are staying in the North Shore region of the island.
Ala Wai golf course and Pali Golf course are a couple of other municipal courses that won’t hurt your wallet as much.
Here are a few suggestions for some other bucket list golf trips.
10 Best Courses on Oahu: Summary
There you have it. The 10 best courses on the incredible island of O’ahu.
Hopefully, something to suit a variety of budgets.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to book my flights and pack my bags!