LIHUE, Kauai, Hawaii -- Change has been a constant in recent years for Kauai Lagoons Golf Club, the only Jack Nicklaus design on the island.
The former 36-hole club had alternating nines closed for some lean years during the recent recession, but a renovation completed in May 2011 brought the club back to 27 holes and, more important, created the longest continuous stretch of ocean holes in Hawaii.
Golfweek ranked Kauai Lagoons eighth among the top public golf courses in Hawaii in 2013. Sweeping views of the Pacific and beautiful bays highlight the Kiele Moana nine (translating to "ocean"). Work also upgraded bunkers, moved several traps around and put Tif-eagle on the greens.
The Kiele Course's front nine -- named Mauka, which means "to the mountains" -- crawls through the jungle. This demanding par-37 loop features three par 5s in the first six holes. A new back tee on the fourth hole turned a monstrous par 4 into a reachable par 5. The do-or-die tee shot at the par-3 fifth hole might seem tough until you reach the hardest hole on Kauai, if not all of Hawaii. The 18th hole at Kauai Lagoons, a 459-yard par 4, plays into the howling trade winds with water up the right side and jungle along the left. It takes an all-carry poke over the water to reach the green. Good luck. You'll need it.