Golf Article

Hawaii - A Stop Before Heaven

Hawaii- A Stop Before Heaven

By Peter Hellman

Classic GOLF Tours


Some years ago, my then wife and I took my elderly parents to Hawaii with our then young children.  We stayed at spacious condominium on the beach in the Kaanapali area of Maui.  Though it was not planned as a golfing vacation (reason: really young kids), I was determined to play at least one round with my Dad.  Convincing him, however, was going to be a challenge. 


Dad had been an avid golfer for much of his adult life.  Though at 85 he was in good health and quite mobile, he complained that he no longer "had game".  He preferred hitting range balls to embarrassing himself on the golf course, he said.  I knew that the only way that I was going to convince him to play was to employ a strategy some times effectively used by parents  - guilt.  "Dad," I said, "if you won't play golf for yourself, would you please do it for me?"


It worked!  The next day, after a bucket of balls, we started off on the first of nine holes on the Kaanapali Kai Course.  Oh, there is one more thing you need to know about my Dad.  He hates carts.  Electric or gas powered, they were all the same to him.  Though they were okay for getting around in a retirement community, they didn't belong on a golf course according to Dad.  In some respects I shared his view, but I also knew we wouldn't finish nine holes without some mechanical assistance. 


Having mastered the cart challenge, we were off.  Neither Dad nor I played well, but I got my wish and we both enjoyed doing together something we had done many times in the past.  It was the 8th hole when things got really interesting.  Dad had had a few too many whacks at the ball and was some 130 yards from the hole.  I had gotten on the green and was looking back at Dad as he hit his ball.  It was a blind shot.  A large bunker rose to protect the green from any view of the hole.  Dad's shot was high and soft.  It bounced twice on the green and disappeared into the hole.  "Wow!  What's Dad talking about, he's got game and with encouragement like that, he'll want to play tomorrow and probably for the next ten years", I said to myself


Back in the cart, my Dad seemed amazingly calm.  The excitement I felt was apparently not mutually shared.  As I began to make our way to the 9th tee box, Dad turned to me, smiled and said, "That's it.  Take me home.  I've played my final round and you know what, I played it for me." 


Whether Hawaii is the place for your final round or the place for many firsts, it's a great place to create your golf memories as well.  With golf courses on six islands you won't soon run out of challenges and fun.  One way to experience golf on four of the six islands in one easy trip is on a golf cruise.  NCL, a U.S. registered cruise line, has three new cruise ships plying the waters of the islands.  With plenty of port time on the Big Island, Maui and Kauai you can play up to five courses on the 7-day cruise.  Add a two night pre or post cruise land package on Oahu and you will be able to play another two or three rounds there.  Cruising has many advantages over a multi-island hotel or condominium package.  On a cruise you unpack once and your hotel room travels with you.  All your meals and nightly entertainment are included.  There is no need for wasting precious vacation time or expense flying from island to island nor do you need a rental car.  Non-golfers also have tons of activities to enjoy.  Cruise ship organized shore excursions are a terrific way to experience the islands and there is always the beach.


Cruising, however, is not for everyone.  And, even if you have cruised a lot, you may find the service level on NCL's Hawaiian cruises a bit "boogie".  This has much to do with U.S. law governing domestic cruise itineraries.  The law requires 90% of the crew to be American on exclusively U.S. itineraries.  International crews that work on cruises that cruise to foreign ports tend to be more service oriented and more willing to work for the low wages and long hours required.  For you non-cruise folks, may I recommend a single or two island land package.  With a few trips you too will be able to experience all the golf that Hawaii has to offer and collect a bag full of memories as well.


Story by Classic GOLF Tours.  Designing custom golf trips to Scotland, Ireland, Hawaii and virtually everywhere there is golf.  For information visit or call 800.359.7200 or 303.751.7200.