LIHUE, Hawaii -- The island of Kauai has a handful of the best resort golf courses in Hawaii, including Poipu Bay, the Prince Course at Princeville at Hanalei, Kauai Lagoons and Makai Golf Club at St. Regis Princeville.
For the more-frugal traveler, that doesn't mean you're priced out of a round while on the Garden Isle. Kauai may have one of the highest concentrations of top-ranked courses in Hawaii, but it also offers some great bargains.
In the heart of Lihue, Puakea Golf Course features a local atmosphere with a driving range often filled with area residents and junior golfers.
The clubhouse is a converted trailer, and the first few holes play right in the heart of town.
First impression aside, the rest of the experience is resort-worthy -- except the green fee. It's a championship-caliber design by Robin Nelson and climaxes with a scenic back nine that plays parallel to the mountains.
While green fees never exceed $99, there are a lot of ways to pay less. Super Twilight, for example, begins at 3 p.m., runs just $35 and the tee sheet is generally open enough that you can zip around and play all 18.
Also, "Fit Club," which is a walking rate at 4 p.m., is a trend that is emerging in the Hawaiian Islands. It started at Ka'anapali G.C. on Maui and soon came to Puakea (both managed by Billy Casper Golf Management). For $50 a month, golfers can walk the course after 4 p.m. You won't get in 18 holes, but chances are you should play nine holes comfortably.
It's easy for visitors to get jealous of all the local, or ka'amaina, deals on golf courses in Hawaii. But at historic Kukuio'lono Golf Course near the south shore, even tourists can play all day for $9.
One of Hawaii's oldest golf courses dating back to the 1920s, it was donated by Walter McBryde -- and turning a profit isn't on the course's agenda. The 3,173-yard course sits high on a lofty hill and meanders through a mix of trees and gardens with some wonderful views of the ocean.
Undoubtedly the island's most casual golf experience, if you show up with a collared shirt, you're probably overdressed. Arrive at the first tee without a shirt, you'll fit right in.
While its 18-hole Makai course is one of Hawaii's top luxury plays, you can find a more affordable nine-hole course, Makai Golf Club at St. Regis Princeville's Woods Course, next door.
Before the resort's major renovation project in 2009, the Woods served as one of three interchangeable nines at the golf club. Today, it's a separate entity with a more relaxed feel -- and it didn't undergo such major enhancements as the other 18, which received a wall-to-wall redesign and reseeding.
Golfers can play the walker-friendly Woods for $50.
Hawaii municipals are famous for their casual settings and great bargains for residents.
While visitors pay a premium to play most of these munis compared to golfers with a valid state I.D., it's still an affordable option compared to resorts. But these courses are also wildly popular and relaxed, so expect waits to get on the first tee and fivesomes.
In Lihue, Wailua Golf Course offers a stretch of holes right along the ocean and a $48-$60 rate for non-residents. A five-round pass can also be purchased for $215.
While it costs just $1 for resident children to play Wailua, it's quite common on Kauai to give kids a break on green fees with a paying adult. Makai Golf Club lets kids play free with a paid adult, while
Kauai Lagoons lets them play free in the afternoons with a paid adult.
It helps to check based on seasonality, though. For instance, Puakea offers a complimentary kids rate in the summer time but regularly charges $9-$18.
"Member for the week" specials are taking off on the islands.
Kauai Lagoons Golf Club offers a tremendous bargain for weekly visitors. For $495, guests can play unlimited golf all week on the Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course and its recently reopened -- and famous -- Kiele back nine, which features the longest continuous stretch of ocean holes in Hawaii. You won't get sick of playing holes like the par-3 14th over the ocean and the short, par-4 16th anytime soon.
Additional perks for the member-for-a-day rate also include an engraved bag tag, logo shirt and a half-hour lesson.
Makai Golf Club offers a similar deal but is a little more limited: six rounds of golf on the 18-hole course for $700. Or you can buy a three-round pass for $420.
Also, Puakea promotes its ho'okipa "buy three rounds, get one round free" visitors deal.
In addition to the above deals, be sure to check in on Hawaii golf packages that include lodging and other perks such as breakfast or activities. Or, check out TravelGolf.com's online tee times for Kauai for any last-minute specials.
October 25, 2011