Kohanaiki golf course - 13th hole
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Kohanaiki golf course - 13th hole
The 13th hole at Kohanaiki plays over lava rock to a sloping green. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfAdvisor
Kohanaiki golf course - hole 15
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Kohanaiki golf course - hole 15
It takes a carry over a lava hazard to reach the 15th green at Kohanaiki. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfAdvisor
Kohanaiki golf course
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Kohanaiki golf course
Several holes on the back nine of Kohanaiki skirt the beach. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfAdvisor
Kohanaiki golf course - hole 5
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Kohanaiki golf course - hole 5
The 233-yard fifth hole at Kohanaiki can be very demanding into the wind. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfAdvisor
Kohanaiki golf course - hole 7
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Kohanaiki golf course - hole 7
The seventh green at Kohanaiki, seen here from the eighth tee, juts into a water hazard. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfAdvisor
Kohanaiki golf course - hole 8
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Kohanaiki golf course - hole 8
After sweeping past a pond, the par-5 eighth hole at Kohanaiki plays to this well-bunkered green. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfAdvisor
Kohanaiki golf course - hole 10
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Kohanaiki golf course - hole 10
The 10th hole at Kohanaiki plays to a raised green. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfAdvisor
Kohanaiki golf course - hole 12
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Kohanaiki golf course - hole 12
The 637-yard par-5 12th hole at Kohanaiki heads toward the ocean. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfAdvisor
Kohanaiki golf course - 13th green
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Kohanaiki golf course - 13th green
A look back from the 13th green at Kohanaiki reveals the crashing surf. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfAdvisor
Kohanaiki golf course - clubhouse
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Kohanaiki golf course - clubhouse
The temporary Kohanaiki clubhouse is actually a $10 million home. Courtesy of Kohanaiki
Kohanaiki GC
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Kohanaiki GC
Rees Jones designed Kohanaiki on Hawaii. Courtesy of Kohanaiki
11 Images

Rees Jones' Kohanaiki course: An exclusive golf club on Hawaii's Big Island

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii -- With six holes near the ocean, Kohanaiki was certainly worth the wait.

Rees Jones completed construction on the ultra-exclusive course while renovating the celebrated Mauna Kea Golf Course on the Big Island in 2008. An ailing economy kept his 7,329-yard layout from opening until May 2013, when ownership moved forward with its plans to develop a luxurious private community set along 1.5 miles of majestic shoreline between the Kona International Airport and Kailua-Kona.

Kohanaiki will be the private playground of property owners, although there is limited public access on Mondays, when Hawaii residents with a valid driver's license can play for $275. Kohanaiki's commitment to five-star service can be found inside its two comfort stations, where players can munch on a wide assortment of gourmet salads, sandwiches and snacks, including homemade ice-cream sandwiches, frozen margaritas and frozen yogurt.

Kohanaiki shares a sensitive environment near the shore. There are 13 Ahu (rock shrines) running parallel to 200 anchialine ponds. These ponds were historically used by Hawaiians to raise fish and shrimp.

After the par-5 12th hole turns toward the ocean, the four most dramatic holes -- two par 3s and two par 4s -- play along the beach, requiring shots over these hazardous pond pits of black volcanic rock. The tee shot of the par-5 17th hole plays over the rocky ruins of an old donkey corral.

Construction on a new 62,000-square-foot clubhouse -- home to a bowling alley, movie theater, restaurant, spa, recreation/game room, fitness area and men's and women's lockers -- will begin in spring of 2014.

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.

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