After Snub, Makai Earns Praise

The par-3 seventh hole on the Princeville Makai Ocean 9 plays across a small bay. Photo courtesy Princeville Makai Course

It’s pretty common for a Hawaii golf course to be recognized as one of the top courses in the country.

So when one doesn’t make a prestigious list, it’s cause for concern.

According to, a network of more than 300 regional and national golf websites that features candid reviews of golf courses, the Makai Golf Club at St. Regis Princeville deserves more credit.

Brandon Tucker, a writer for, wrote about five courses that were snubbed from Golf Digest‘s 2011-2012 Top 100 Public Golf Course rankings.

The Makai Golf Club was one of the courses for which he made a strong pitch.

“I’ve met too many golfers who take these Top 100 lists too literally and go out of their way to play as many as they can,” Tucker wrote in his article. “If you play any of the following five golf courses on my recommendation and don’t think you got a fantastic destination golf experience for the money, I owe you a beer.”

Tucker said his hunch as to why the Prince Course at Princeville recently closed to renovate is because a year prior, the next door Makai really upped the ante with an enhanced new layout and firmer, faster paspalum turf.

“While not as tough or jungly as its famous neighbor, Makai features a par-3 shot over the ocean on the front nine, then a drivable par-4 along the cliffs on the back,” Tucker wrote.

“The long, inland par-5 hole, which gently tumbles down toward the water, might be my favorite hole in Hawaii.

When the Prince reopens in October and the conditions are primo, it’s probably a better golf course, but Makai isn’t that far behind.”

Doug Sutter, an assistant golf pro at the Makai Golf Club, tells MidWeek Kaua’i that he “wholeheartedly” thinks it should’ve been ranked in the Top 100.

“I agree that we got snubbed,” Sutter says. “We put a lot of time and energy and money into this course. We turned it up a notch when we did our renovations.”

Sutter also praises its next-door neighbor, the Prince, for making improvements of its own.

“I love everyone at the Prince Golf Course,” he says. “I kind of agree the Prince Course was the best on the island for years and years, and they’ve now seen what kind of surfaces can take it to the next level.”

One thing that many can agree on, though, is that golf on Kaua’i’s North Shore has upped its game, making it a must-stop for golfers from around the world.

“When you put Hawaii on there as one of the top golf destinations, the Makai should be considered,” Sutter says.

“The views are amazing, the surfaces and playability are hard to match. It’s fun for everyone, not too easy or too challenging.”