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Hawaii lands eight golf courses on Golfweek's best resort list

By Mike Bailey, Senior Staff Writer

When it comes to great resort courses, Hawaii certainly doesn't have a shortage of them. The 50th state, in fact, once again landed eight courses on Golfweek's 2012 list of best resort courses. Robert Trent Jones, Jr. designed half of the Hawaii golf courses on the list.

Mauna Kea Golf Course - hole 3
The famous par-3 third at Mauna Kea Golf Course on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Mauna Kea Golf Course - hole 3The Challenge at Manele Bay golf coursePoipu Bay Golf Course

Hawaii was second only to California, which landed 12 resort courses on the list. Florida was third with seven.

Hawaii's top entry is the site of the PGA Tour's first event, the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. The Plantation Course at Kapalua on the island of Maui came in at No. 17 on the list, and for good reason. This Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore design is fun, in great shape and on one of the most beautiful spots on earth. The 18th hole, a 663-yard downhill, downwind par 5 that the tour pros have no trouble hitting in two, is one of the most interesting finishing holes in golf.

Prince Course leads Kauai three

Kauai, known as the Garden Isle, landed the most resort courses on the list for Hawaii with three. The Big Island of Hawaii and Maui have two each.

Kauai's top entry is the Princeville Resort's Prince Course at No. 20. The Prince Course shut down in 2011 and was scheduled to reopen in 2012 after a renovation that included new paspalum grass. This Robert Trent Jones, Jr. design is both beautiful and challenging. It may have one of the most difficult opening holes in golf.

Kauai Lagoons, ranked 70th on the list, is another course coming back from a renovation. The back nine along the ocean is one of the most spectacular in the world with more consecutive holes along the coast than any other golf course in the world.

And Poipu Bay, another Robert Trent Jones, Jr. design, also underwent a recent renovation. It included new turf and bunkers. Poipu Bay, ranked No. 81 on the list, is the former home of the PGA Grand Slam of Golf.

Maui's other entry is the Gold Course at the Four Seasons Resort at Wailea, which used to host the Champions Tour's Skins Game. Another Robert Trent Jones, Jr. design, the Gold Course features spectacular vistas of the ocean, Molokini islet, ancient lava rock walls, coconut trees and sparkling white bunkers.

Big Island lands two on the list

The top-rated course on the Big Island is Mauna Kea Golf Course at the Mauna Kea Beach Resort in Kamuela. None other than Rees Jones restored this Robert Trent Jones, Sr.-designed championship layout. The course, which came in at No. 31 on Golfweek's list, is known for its signature par-3 third hole, which plays over the ocean and rocks onto a well-guarded green. From the tips, it can play 275 yards.

Another tour stop, the Four Seasons Hualalai in Kona on the Big Island, came in at 70th on the list. The Hualalai Nicklaus Course is the site of the Champions Tour's Mitsubishi Championship held in January. The par-3 12th has a bunker in the middle of the green in addition to the Pacific Ocean water hazard in front.

Oahu, Hawaii's most populated island, didn't get a course on the list, but one of Hawaii's smallest islands, Lanai, did. The Nicklaus-designed Challenge Course at Manele Bay is ranked No. 35 on the list. The 7,039-yard, par-72 course tees off from the cliffs at Hulopoe Bay with Pacific serving as a water hazard below.

Click here for Golfweek Magazine's 2012 list of best resort courses.

Mike BaileyMike Bailey, Senior Staff Writer

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in the Houston area. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 20 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @Accidentlgolfer.

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