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Kauai's Golf

With year-round temperatures in the 70s and 80s, four of Golf Digest's top ten rated courses in Hawaii, and two of Golf Magazine's top golf resorts in the U.S.A., it's no wonder Kauai has a unique reputation among golf enthusiasts. With so many spectacular and challenging courses located around the island, this is truly a golfer's heaven. Golf Around the Island: Kauai Golf Providers.

Poipu Bay Resort Golf Course, on Kauai's south shore, was created by Robert Trent Jones, Jr., and he nicknamed it the "Pebble Beach of the Pacific." Parts of the Poipu Bay course halt at the top of sheer cliffs, with waves crashing below, and prevailing brisk trade winds add to the challenge. Spread over 210 acres, this course is full of bright light and brilliant colors, deep to bright greens on the fairways, red-gold cliffs, and a turquoise sea edged in white foam. The clubhouse and the adjacent Hyatt Regency Kauai sustain the theme with their green tile roofs atop white walls engulfed in lush tropical foliage. There are 86 bunkers, several lakes, and the long drop off the cliffs to test your skill. To add another dimension to the course, ancient Hawaiian archeological artifacts are carefully protected, and explanatory signs installed.

The 14th hole, par 5, offers a magnificent view of the ocean, and during the winter whales breach and spout off the coast. This hole plays directly into the wind, and only the best make it to the green in two shots. The panorama from mountain to ocean is awe-inspiring. Poipu Bay hosts the annual PGA Grand Slam of Golf, a face-off between the winners of the PGA's four major titles.

A few minutes west is the Kiahuna Golf Club, also in the Poipu Beach area. The ocean view is a distant one, the terrain gentler. Elegant homes overlook the course, and vibrant red, orange, and purple bougainvillea gleam in the sun. This course was designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr., and it has hosted the Worldwide Championship of Pro-Am golf, featuring top players.

On most days, brisk trade winds provide a challenge and keep you cool in the brilliant sunshine. Hole No.14 has an exciting tee shot that must be placed between four fairway bunkers. The second shot is your choice of either a high or low fairway. From the high side you can see the old Koloa sugar mill, the first on Kauai. As you approach the hole, the green is partially hidden by mounds-it's wide but shallow, creating a test of skill.

West of the road to Koloa and Poipu Beach is the community of Kalaheo. High in the hills is Kukuiolono Park and Golf Course. It's a great 9-hole course with sweeping views of the coast and Niihau and a charming Japanese garden in its midst.

To get to the Kauai Lagoons Golf Club, drive northeast to the main town of Lihue, and turn toward the airport and Nawiliwili Harbor. Rated No. 1 in the state by Golf Weekly, the Kiele Course was designed by Jack Nicklaus. The site of the 1991 PGA Grand Slam of Golf, this course truly tests your concentration and skills. Hole No. 13, a par 3, tees off over Running Waters Bay and you get no second chances. The views of the Hoary Head Mountain Range and crescent-shaped Kalapaki Beach are spectacular.

The Lagoons Course, also a Jack Nicklaus design, provides an enjoyable round for golfers of all levels. The 18th hole, par 4, puts a nice finish on your game. A straight-ahead hole, accurate tee shots will place your ball left of the fairway bunker, and only the long hitters will make it. The next shot finds a difficult, undulating green and challenges your putting skills.

Heading north, the Wailua Municipal Golf Course is just four miles away. Cradled between ocean and mountains, it is picturesque and well-maintained. The oceanside holes make Wailua one of the prettiest public courses in the U.S. Many residents play regularly here, and young golfers learn to love the game by starting off at Wailua.

About 25 miles northeast is Princeville Resort and its two magnificent courses. The Prince Course has attained Golf Digest's No. 2 ranking in the state, a tribute to the skill of its esigner, Robert Trent Jones, Jr., and to the unparalleled variety and complexity of its terrain and natural setting.

There are five tees for each hole, the back two reserved for those with handicaps of less than 10. Try the 12th hole, par 4, which tees off directly ahead with a 120-foot drop impairing your view of the fairway. Your only guides are the tops of an ancient grove of mango trees. You can hear a rushing stream and, once on the green, you are surrounded by lush jungle.

Princeville's Makai Course offers an Ocean nine, a Lakes nine, and a Woods nine. This was the home of the Women's Kemper Open from 1986 to 1990, and the Lakes No. 9 hole has been the deciding factor on several occasions. On the Ocean course, hole No. 7 features an over-the-water shot with a panoramic view of the Mamalahoa Mountain Range, from Mt. Makana to Namolokama.

Top off your day of golf at the elegant Princeville Golf Club and Spa or at the Princeville Hotel, watching daylight fade on the mountains and the sea as the sun sets behind Mt. Makana (Bali Hai).