Maui Guys Golf Getaway
by Bruce Dowbiggin
With its tranquil charms and laid back atmosphere, the island of Maui has rarely been renowned as the perfect venue for a guy’s golf getaway. Despite excellent golf courses from Kapalua in the north to Wailea in the south, the perception of Maui has been as an idyll reserved for lovers, families and those who wish to get away from it all.
It is all those things (and more), but it also has the perfect DNA for four or more golfing buddies seeking a place in the sun for their annual golf trip during cold weather back home.
Before we left, my habitual foursome tried to decide what makes the foundation of a guy’s golf getaway? Memorable courses for all playing abilities? Check. Value in a condo setting where the for four or more of the boys can relax after the round and prepare food? Check. A range of terrific restaurants for when the barbecue is not the choice for the night? Check.
A suitable table for playing poker late into the night? A beach to veg on after golf? A workable excuse for your wife or girlfriend about why she’s not going – this time?
As we discovered when we finally made it to Maui, it’s check, check and check on all categories (except perhaps the domestic dialogue). All you have to do is pull out a map and begin.
For old pals planning a guy’s golf getaway on Maui, there are two principal areas to consider. In the south lies the laid back region of Wailea and Makena with its golden sands, stunning views of Lanai and Molokini and the superb golf courses stretching along the foot of Mount Haleakala.
In the northwest are the bustling beach resorts of Ka’anapali and Kapalua with their hotels on the boardwalk, whale watching and the great golf attractions spread out below Mount Kahalawai.
In the Wailea option we found a wide range of self-contained accommodations from budget level up to the most exclusive and luxurious properties that sleep four or more. For our trip, we chose a stunning 1,500-square foot condo with knockout views at Makena Surf, managed by Destination Resorts Hawaii
The two-bedroom, two bathroom property was equipped with a killer deck for watching sunsets. It also had complete kitchen and barbecue for grilling the fresh mahi-mahi and ahi tuna that make the area’s waters famous. Custom fish markets to large supermarket chains nearby offer a complete range of seasonal fish and meats to prepare.
The concierge at Destination Resorts was invaluable in making the necessary connections to keep the golfers happy, including a deck of cards for some friendly poker games. Typical was how they quickly set up an early morning snorkeling cruise of Molokini to view the abundant tropical fish life of the volcanic crater. With plenty of time left over for afternoon golf.
There’s nothing quite like the fishtail of dew rising behind an early morning shot rolling into the green. So we recommend golfers choose morning tee times at one of the four excellent Wailea courses or Makena North that are just minutes from the condo. The daunting trade winds arrive later in the day, putting low scores at risk. Afternoons are then left for sight seeing or just hanging out on the beautiful deck to mellow out from the morning’s golf.
The sights are unforgettable. On our final afternoon, a pod of spinner dolphins frolicked just off shore even as weddings were being conducted on the beach. Makena Surf features a full-sized pool on site for those who choose not to swim in the warm waters of Makena Bay.
One of our pleasant surprises on Maui was the excellent restaurants featuring local produce, meat and fish. The foody revolution capturing TV audiences is well served at Monkeypod Kitchen in Wailea where creativity was shown from appetizers through desserts. Enjoying their Rain Tree Elixir or Tsunami Tuesday cocktail on the deck will make your mainland miseries disappear. The staff at Monkeypod were friendly and full of tips on local activities worth trying.
For a lunch, try Cafe O’Lei in Kihei which has a range of delicious salads, sandwiches and entrees at prices that will make your budget happy.
A guy’s golf getaway is best served by a full-service condo, not hotels, so at Ka’anapali we were treated at the Ka'anapali Alii Resort along hotel row. With one of the best beachfronts on the strip and a courtyard of pools, hot tubs and a full-service gym, these 11-story units offer all the benefits of a hotel plus the facilities to prepare meals on your own after a round at nearby Ka’anapali or Kapalua courses.
The twin Ka’anapali Royal and Kai courses are just feet away from the resort, with the spectacular Kapalua Plantation and Bay courses a short 15-minute drive north on Highway 30. Special all-you-can play packages for three or seven days allow you to play to your heart’s content in the stunning locales for as little as $349.
Ka’anapali Alii is also a brief stroll away from the shopping and dining of Whalers Village. Chef Chris Schobel and his terrific staff make the Hula Grill a can’t-miss destination for a meal out on Ka’anapali. Serving a range of local produce and popular dishes (the tandoori fish was a knockout as were the poke tacos and fire-grilled ahi steak) in an outdoor setting just steps from the beach, Chef Chris is both friendly and creative. Prices here are great value and the staff reminds you how service can complete a memorable meal.
If your group wants to push back from the busy shore for a fine meal, try The Pineapple Grill perched above the Bay Golf Course in the Kapalua Resort. Chris Kaiwi and chef Isaac Bancaco mix Hawaiian elements with the best of contemporary Maui cuisine on their tasting menu.
Try the Ho Farms Baby Tomato Caprese Salad, Crispy Shiitake Mushroom Pork Hash Spring Rolls followed by Macadamia Nut & Lemongrass Crusted Mahi Mahi. Great service and an innovative wine list makes this a meal to remember after the day’s round at The Bay course.
Finally, for the care and moving of golfing guys and their clubs between courses on the north and south shores, a vehicle is a must. We used a stretch wagon from Budget Rent A Car, which is conveniently located right next to Kahalui airport. Budget offers rates for various lengths of stay, and offers a range of vehicles from cars and vans up to convertibles for enjoying the soft Maui air.
Bruce Dowbiggin grew up in Montreal, lived for a good spell of his working life in Toronto, and moved to Calgary near the beginning of this decade to write a general sports column for the Calgary Herald. He is also a successful author, having published five books including, Meaning of Puck: How Hockey Explains Modern Canada and he's won two Gemini Awards as a sportscaster. Bruce's column on sports media appears exclusively on globesports.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on twitter @dowbboy