Home to the only Rees Jones golf course in Hawai’i, Kohanaiki’s 18-hole course is both beautiful and, at times, wonderfully distracting. The 7,329-yard, par-72 course winds across more than 100 acres with six ocean-front holes set along 1½ miles of shoreline. It’s challenging, yet infinitely fun.
Crafted around 14 historic Ahu (ancient rock shrines), the emerald-green SeaDwarf paspalum turf intertwines with flows of black volcanic rock, historic structures and 200 protected anchialine ponds, home to native and migratory birds and wildlife. Kohanaiki has taken painstaking measures throughout to honor the history and natural beauty of the area.
To maintain the course in pristine condition while keeping operating costs to a minimum, Kohanaiki invested in a solar powered desalination and reverse-osmosis system that provides the 1 million gallons of water per day needed to water the entire course.
Rees Jones’ masterful design is not only breathtaking, it’s registered with the Audubon International Silver Signature Program for its careful consideration to protect wildlife, conserve water, and preserve and rehabilitate the native vegetation.
Par 5 | 477 Yards
Course Handicap: 10
A gentle handshake to start your round, this short par 5 is possible to reach in two. Be sure to avoid the bunkers just short of the green on your approach.
Par 3 | 149 Yards
Course Handicap: 18
This short par 3 continues to ease you into the course. The prevailing winds make this hole play shorter than the card so be sure to take this into account. Hitting long on this hole will make par a challenge.
Par 4 | 407 Yards
Course Handicap: 6
The longest par 4 on the course, hole 3 has an uphill slope that can be deceiving from the tee. Don’t be too distracted by views of Hualālai in the distance or you may find yourself in the fairway bunkers, at which point bogey will be a great score.
Par 4 | 368 Yards
Course Handicap: 10
A good drive left or right off the tee on this hole can work equally well due to the funnel effect of the fairway which will gather your ball into the center of the fairway. The green has a natural bowl added to its shape.
Par 3 | 196 Yards
Course Handicap: 16
A beautiful amphitheater of lava rock surrounds the green on this hole. Although it’s a par 3, the hole plays a little longer than expected. Avoid the bunkers on either side of the green and run your ball up the alleyway to the green for a good par.
Par 4 | 398 Yards
Course Handicap: 12
This hole is ideal for the precision golfer. Thread the needle between the two fairway bunkers keeping slightly to the right to set up the best approach to the green. From there, a solid approach and up and down for par and you’re off to the comfort station at the next tee.
Par 4 | 379 Yards
Course Handicap: 8
A straight drive is important on this par 4 with the fairway bunker and golf lake on either side of the landing area. The wind normally blows right to left and if you play left of the green the closely mown grass allows for a good run up.
Par 5 | 480 Yards
Course Handicap: 2
You’ll be tempted to cut the corner off the tee on this dogleg right hole, but be careful as this fairway slopes left to right towards the lake. For best results, aim for the center of the fairway to set up a good approach – which you’ll need as this hole has the shallowest green on the course.
Par 4 | 332 Yards
Course Handicap: 14
This hole tends to draw players into hitting over the bunkers. Those who know the course know those bunkers are farther than they appear and play left. The contoured green is well guarded by bunkers and favors a controlled approach.
Par 4 | 348 Yards
Course Handicap: 15
The back nine starts by teeing off over the organic farm. Aim left down the fairway and then play to center of the green. Avoid the bunker to the left of the green at all costs.
Par 4 | 305 Yards
Course Handicap: 17
This short par 4 is reachable for long hitters if you can carry the right fairway bunker. Go too far left and you might run out of room. The dogleg right focuses your attention towards the green and sets you up for the best left turn in golf.
Par 5 | 580 Yards
Course Handicap: 3
Take a moment to soak in the spectacular ocean view before teeing off on the first of 6 oceanfront holes. This hole plays longer than the card with onshore winds and salt spray adding to the challenge. Be conservative with your lay up; the farther down the fairway you lay up, the smaller your landing area. Take an extra club when hitting into this green.
Par 3 | 154 Yards
Course Handicap: 11
This is the closest you can get to teeing off from the beach. The prevailing wind may lure you into playing a lesser club, but don’t be deceived or risk coming up short and out of play. Play onto the center back of the green and set yourself up for birdie.
Par 4 | 310 Yards
Course Handicap: 5
This may be the best short par 4 in Hawai’i. Weaving through beautiful anchialine ponds, this is a risk/reward hole. A solid drive down the center of the fairway sets you up for an easy approach to the green but veer left, right, or come up short, and you’ll find yourself trying hard to save bogie.
Par 4 | 382 Yards
Course Handicap: 7
This hole can favor the bold, offering you an opportunity to be more aggressive and drive far down the fairway. Keep to the left to avoid running out of fairway and set yourself up for the approach. The lava and anchialine ponds make this one of the course’s most dramatic greens.
Par 3 | 165 Yards
Course Handicap: 13
Aiming straight for Wawahiwa`a Bay in the distance, keeping to the left side of the green, is the smart play off the tee on this hole. The wind blows right to left of the ocean making this hole play longer than one might expect.
Par 5 | 516 Yards
Course Handicap: 1
The 17th hole begins with a drive over the historic donkey corral onto a wide fairway. Aiming left of center on the fairway is your best bet. A poor drive will require a lay up short of the lava area. Enjoy the spectacular ocean views on this hole but stay focused to avoid the bunkers to the right of the green on your approach.
Par 4 | 411 Yards
Course Handicap: 9
The final hole is the perfect home stretch, with the Kohanaiki clubhouse as your backdrop for the green. Keep right of center off the tee and avoid the course’s only pot bunker. Avoiding the bunkers to the left of the green is key to finishing strong and most members will tell you that if you haven’t hit a ball into “mochi valley” on the right side of this hole, you haven’t played at Kohanaiki. Finish with a strong up and down in front of the audience at the Members Shop above.
DIRECTOR OF GOLF
Dakota was initially introduced and recommended to us by Kohanaiki’s very own golf course architect, Rees Jones. He returns to the Big Island joined by his wife Monica, his daughter Tatum, and son Declan. He enjoys spending time with his family, hiking, diving, surfing, body boarding, working out at the gym, and fishing in his spare time.
HEAD GOLF PROFESSIONAL