Mauna Kea Golf Course on the Big Island: Hawaii's iconic course turns 50 in 2014

KOHALA COAST, Hawaii -- The third hole at Mauna Kea Golf Course trumps all but a handful of the world's best par 3s.

The view of the Pacific Ocean from the tee is a feast for the eyes. Most golfers don't even notice the six bunkers ringing the massive, slanting green. They're too busy staring at the Kauna'oa Bay, listening to the waves crashing against the rocky cliffs, smelling the salty sea air and judging the tropical breeze. The 272-yard shot from the tips remains daunting but doable.

Mauna Kea, the thrilling oceanfront challenge designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. in 1964, will celebrate its 50th anniversary in December 2014 as the undisputed king of resort golf on the Big Island. A refreshment effort by Rees Jones in 2008 bolstered the cosmetic appearance and upgraded conditioning on the 7,370-yard course.

Mauna Kea G.C. relentlessly attacks with a slew of elevated greens with wild breaks that move like the ocean waves and treacherously deep bunkers that drown golfers in sand. Its punishing demands might break your will but never your spirit. It's too beautiful a round to pout about a bad score. Golf Digest rates Mauna Kea no. 31 in "America's 100 Greatest Public Courses" for 2013-14.

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed and photographed more than 1,000 courses and written about golf destinations in 20 countries for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Instagram at @jasondeegangolfpass and Twitter at @WorldGolfer.

Related Links

As the largest of the Hawaiian islands, the Big Island has the most climate zones. But there's one climate, in particular, that seems made for golf -- the Kohala Coast. The Kohala Coast is where the resorts are, which means it's also where the best golf courses are. But which ones are the best? Mike Bailey offers up a list of five must-play, public-access golf courses on the Big Island.
2 Min Read
A golf vacation to the Big Island doesn't have to be all birdies and bogeys. The sheer size and diversity of the island's many landscapes and ecosystems offers so much to explore off the golf course. Whether it's by land, sea or air, pick your pleasure -- and you'll treasure them all on Hawaii Island. Jason Scott Deegan has more.
3 Min Read
Latest Popular Content
2 Min Read
June 5, 2023
If you just started playing golf or the sight of your ball rolling into a bunker is soul crushing, these bunker tips are for you.
6 Images
May 17, 2023
View the future golf course sites for the PGA Championship, pro golf's major championship conducted by the PGA of America.
5 Images
May 15, 2023
View future venues in Scotland, England and Northern Ireland that have been awarded The Open by the R&A, golf's top British championship.
5 Min Read
April 6, 2023
Mike Bailey is no stranger to Hilton Head Island-Bluffton and ranks his favorite courses to play.
Nestled in the heart of the Colorado Rockies, Red Sky Golf Club’s Tom Fazio and Greg Norman courses are consistently ranked at the top of their class. Both courses feature dramatic mountain views from greens surrounded by aspen forests, wildflower meadows and sage covered hills. Guests at Beaver Creek and Vail Resort’s lodging properties enjoy coveted access to the courses of Red Sky Golf Club.
2 Min Read
April 7, 2023
These monster golf holes play more than 700 yards from the tips. Tee it high and let it fly!
11 Min Read
April 3, 2023
Alister MacKenzie, Bobby Jones and many of golf history's greatest figures have shaped America's iconic championship golf course.
Now Reading
Mauna Kea Golf Course on the Big Island: Hawaii's iconic course turns 50 in 2014