Playing a round at the Jack Nicklaus Signature Manele Golf Course on Lanai is most certainly a lesson in concentration. There you are putting your golf game to the ultimate test, all while being surrounded by the almost indescribable scenic beauty of Hulopoe Bay and the blue Pacific. And with an ocean view from every hole, you’ll find it difficult keeping your eyes on your golf ball.
Ranked the #2 course in Hawaii by Golfweek, Manele Golf Course is the perfect blend of skill and thrill. There are four well-placed tee boxes to accommodate all levels of play. Relaxed tee times and the absence of a course marshal make the pace more suitable for taking pictures and enjoying your surroundings. And the course’s seaside location provides some of the most challenging, but fun-to-play, holes in Hawaii.
Let’s start with challenging. The 462-yard number 5 is the toughest hole on the course. This par 4 features a fairway that slopes towards the ocean, so there’s very little room for error from the tee. Add a green that’s 60 feet below the fairway, and this hole just might do some serious damage to your scorecard. But before you hit that approach shot, take some pictures of the unobstructed views of Maui and Kahoolawe in the distance. You may even be able to see Hawaii Island on crystal clear days.
One thing every golfer loves to do is “grip it and rip it.” And Manele’s par 5 number 6 will give you a chance to do just that. The tee shot plays to a very receptive fairway, allowing for a wide margin of error. The green is reachable in 2 strokes for long hitters, but if you fall short, you’ll have to contend with a tricky cluster of bunkers on the right. Experienced players at Manele have learned to play the ball to the left side on both the drive and approach.
The seventh and eighth holes feature a true golf rarity; two back-to-back par 3 holes, something only a confident course designer like Nicklaus would dare try. Number 7 is 172 yards long and often plays into the island’s unpredictable trade winds, making you reconsider your club choice. The green at hole number 8 rests on a hill and requires an extremely accurate shot to place the ball in putting range from the tees.
But the most talked about four-hole stretch at Manele Golf Course happens between holes 10 and 13, which run along Lanai’s rugged 200-foot tall sea cliffs. Here the Pacific Ocean acts as an exhilarating water hazard that puts even the most experienced golfer’s skills to the test. This is also where you’ll be glad you brought your camera. Photo ops are everywhere, especially in the winter months when humpback whales leap out of the water just offshore.
On the 12th green—the signature hole where the Pacific backdrop is unobstructed for 3,000 miles—the view is so unspeakably scenic that it was the site of Bill Gates’ wedding. This par 3 hangs 150 feet over the surf, and you’ll find nothing but rugged sea cliffs between you and the green – a thrilling test for golfers of all skill levels.
If you choose to play it safe through the first 14 holes, then hole 15 is where you’ll want to “go for it.” This par 5 thriller is more beauty than beast, and has the potential to deliver an eagle to your scorecard if you avoid the central fairway bunker and can reach the green in 2 shots.
Then, just when you thought you could coast through the rest of the course, you encounter Manele’s longest forced carry right from the tees on number 17, making you to drive the ball over a towering cliff with the surf crashing below. And that’s just to reach the fairway! From the tees all you see is the flag in the distance. What you can’t see are the hidden bunkers lurking all around.
With any great challenge, there has to be a reward at the end. And at Manele Golf Course the reward is nearby VIEWS restaurant, a venue that lives up to its name. VIEWS is open from Wednesdays through Sundays, and is the perfect spot to grab a drink and some locally sourced mahi mahi. Relax while reviewing all of the amazing photos you captured during your day at one of Hawaii’s best championship courses.
In addition to providing a memorable 18-hole experience, Manele Golf Course has a world-class driving range complete with wooden bag stands, drink coolers, a seating area, and top of the line golf balls like the Titleist Pro V1. Golf carts are outfitted with the latest GPS course guides, and there’s a top-notch Pro Shop filled with everything a golfer needs for a day on the links.
The course is open to guests of Four Seasons Resort Lanai and Four Seasons Resort Island Club members Wednesday through Sunday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Lanai locals and Hawaii Kama’aina have rates available as well. For more information, or to reserve tee times call (808) 565-2000 or visit fourseasons.com/lanai.
Manele Golf Course is also the perfect destination for day tripping golfers on Oahu and Maui. It’s an easy flight from Honolulu International Airport. And from Maui you can either fly, or take a scenic ferry ride from Lahaina to Manele Harbor. Rabaca’s Limousine & Island Tours provides transportation from both Lanai Airport and Manele Harbor. If you find yourself in no hurry to leave, look into reserving one of 11 rooms at Hotel Lanai in charming Lanai City.
There are currently some enticing promotions that make golfing at Manele Bay even more attractive. The “Make Manele Your Own” golf experience includes private access to all golf amenities for up to 20 golfers, unlimited golf at Manele Golf Course, clinics and lessons, morning cocktails, and much more. For visitors on Maui, take a short ferry ride to Lanai and play for the day with The Winter Golf Offer. Available through December 31, 2015, this offer is $325 and includes greens fee, club rental, transportation to/from harbor, and an exceptional prix fixe lunch at VIEWS. For details, visit fourseasons.com/lanaigolf.