The Hawaii Prince Hotel in Honolulu is the only hotel on Waikiki Beach that owns and operates a golf course for its guests, but the Hawaii Prince Golf Club also is a public course enjoyed by the locals and other visitors to the island.
The club is located about a 40-minute drive from Honolulu on the Ewa Plain, where Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay created three delightful nines that opened in 1992. Golfers will find three distinct golfing experiences.
There are the A Course, which is dotted by monkey pod trees and measures 3,514 yards from the back tees; the B Course, which winds through ironwood trees and plays to 3,609 yards, and the C Course, perhaps the most popular and lined by palm trees, covering 3,652 yards.
Mark Rolfing, NBC golf commentator and a resident of Hawaii, calls the last two holes of the B Course and the first two holes of the C Course “Hawaii’s Longest Mile of Golf.”
They are four of the best, longest and most challenging par 4s in succession any golfer would ever want to play.
( B Course No. 9)
B8 plays 433 yards to a green that has 21 palm trees as a backdrop and is rated No. 2 on that nine, and is followed by the No. 1 handicap hole, 440 yards to a green protected on the right by water and a devastating crosswind that the golfer does not feel because of a grove of trees.
The opening hole of the C Course is rated only as No. 7 on the card, even though it covers 484 yards from the back tees, and the next hole measures 459 yards and is rated the most difficult on that nine. From the back tees, that’s 1,716 of real estate without a par 5.
The signature hole on the A Course is the 418-yard seventh, a demanding par 4 on which the tee shot must carry a gigantic lake that runs the length of the fairway on the right side. But that’s not the only trouble on this hole. You cannot run the ball up onto the green in typical links style because of a large bunker 20 yards short of the putting surface.
Perhaps the best par 3 on the property is No. 7 on the C Course, 210 yards from the back tees, with two lakes to deal with on the right. It is the first leg of a dramatic finish that includes the scenic, 458-yard peninsula par-4 eighth hole and a 532-yard par-5 windup.
( No.1 on C course)
The property, which was host to the Hawaii State Open in 2000 and 2004, covers 270 acres and 10 large lakes come into play -- several on multiple holes. The fairways and Bermuda greens are dotted by 90 white sand bunkers, with dramatic views of the Waianae Mountains.
The Hawaii Prince is the first stop in the Prince Resorts’ “Ninety-Nine Holes of Golf” tour. Also included are two exceptional golf courses designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. at the Makena Golf Club adjacent to the Maui Prince Resort on Maui, the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel on the Big Island of Hawaii, with its groundbreaking course that was designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., and the Hapuna Prince Hotel, with its award-winning course designed by Palmer and Seay.
( Ko'olau Golf Course)
OTHER COURSES IN THE AREA: Among the many courses on Oahu are two spectacular resort courses at Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore; Kapolei Golf Course and Ko Olina Golf Club in Kapolei; the West and East Courses at Makaha Golf Club in Waianae; Mid-Pacific Country Club in Wailea; Mililani Golf Club, Pearl Country Club in Aiea; Waikele Golf Course; Luana Hills Country Club in Wailea and Ko'olau Golf Course in Kaneohe. Ko'olau is considered by many to be the most difficult course in the United States, with a slope rating of 152 from the back tees.
( Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa)
WHERE TO STAY: The Hawaii Prince Hotel, at the gateway to Waikiki when driving from the Honolulu Airport, affords scenic views of the Pacific in addition to Ala Wai Yacht Harbor, Ala Moana Park and the Koolau Mountains. The hotel offers a full-service day spa and a beauty salon in addition to a fitness center. Guests can take the hotel shuttle to any of the shops and restaurants along Waikiki or never have to leave the hotel -- which has its own high-end shops and two gourmet dining rooms, the Prince Court and the Hakone Restaurant.
You can find a slice of Old Hawaii less than an hour’s drive from the frenetic activity at Waikiki at the Turtle Bay Resort. It’s a short trip from fabled surfing spots at Waimea Bay, Sunset Beach and the Bonzai Pipeline.
Other hotels on Waikiki include the Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort and Spa, the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Resort and Spa, the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, the Sheraton Waikiki Resort and the Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach.
Away from Honolulu is Marriott’s Ihilani Resort & Spa in Ko Olina.