It’s a tight race for the title of best public-access golf course in Hawaii, with the Four Seasons Resort’s Manele Course in Lanai having jumped ahead of Kapalua’s Plantation Course for the No. 1 spot on Golfweek’s Best Courses You Can Play list in 2022.
Built by Jack Nicklaus atop lava outcroppings and opened in 1991, the Manele Course features three holes atop cliffs above the Pacific Ocean. Besides being No. 1 among Hawaii’s public-access layouts, it ties for No. 32 among all modern courses built since 1960 in the U.S.
Golfweek’s Best offers many lists of course rankings, with the list of top public-access courses in each state among the most popular. All the courses on this list allow public access in some fashion, be it standard daily green fees, through a resort or by staying at an affiliated hotel. If there’s a will, there’s a tee time.
Also popular are the Golfweek’s Best rankings of top private courses in each state, and that list for Hawaii is likewise included below.
(m): Modern course, built in or after 1960
(c): Classic course, built before 1960
Note: If there is a number in the parenthesis with the m or c, that indicates where that course ranks among Golfweek’s Best top 200 modern or classic courses. Several of the private courses listed below do not qualify for those premium lists because they haven’t seen enough rater play in the past 10 years, but they are still eligible for the state-by-state lists.
* New to or returning to list
1. Four Seasons Resort (Manele)
2. Kapalua (Plantation)
3. Mauna Kea Beach Hotel GC
Kohala Coast (181m)
4. Princeville Makai
5. Four Seasons Resort Hualalai
Kailua – Kona (m)
7. Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa (Poipu Bay)
8. Mauna Lani (North)
9. Wailea (Emerald)
10. Turtle Bay Resort (Arnold Palmer)
11. Wailua Municipal
12. Ocean Course at Hokuala
13. Kapolei GC
14. Mauna Lani (South)
5. King Kamehameha*
The hundreds of members of the Golfweek’s Best ratings panel continually evaluate courses and rate them based on 10 criteria on a points basis of 1 through 10. They also file a single, overall rating on each course. Those overall ratings are averaged to produce these rankings.