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Royal and Kai Ka'anapali: Maui Gems

By Don Kriefall

The Royal Course, designed by Robert Trent Jones and built in 1962, has hosted the Champion's Tour Skins game since 2006. It was host to a PGA tour event for 15 years. This is not your typical resort course. Hole number one is a 550 yard par 5 tester that usually plays into the prevailing trade winds. This course is immaculately maintained with panoramic views of the ocean and the terrain of the West Maui Mountain foothills. This course will test every level of golfer, but is a very fair course that rewards good shots, but will punish you, especially on errant approach shots. The signature 449 yard par 4, 18th hole requires accuracy and length, with a dog leg that makes it play much longer. Water protects the entire length of the right side of the fairway, so keep the fade in your bag.

The Skinny
4 Tees Boxes - 6700, 6267, 5839, 5016 Yards
Slope - 131

The Kai Course Ka'anapali Kai Course was originally created as an executive course and was later redesigned by architect Arthur Jack Snyder in 1976. At 6,400 yards, the Par 70 course is a more forgiving than the Royal Course, but does have enough hazards to test golfers at all levels of ability. The Kai Course hosted the 12 ladies of Big Break Ka'anapali in 2008- the Golf Channel's #1 series! The natural canals, gulches and lava rock boundaries that line the course come into play on errant shots. The landscaping is visually stunning with hibiscus, bougainvillea and plumeria growing throughout, as well as Norfolk Pines and coconut trees that border many of the fairways.

The Skinny
4 Tees Boxes - 66388, 6010, 5563, 4522 Yards
Slope/Rating - 135/70.7


Royal Ka'anapali Course
Ka'anapali resort guest $179
Non Ka'anapali resort guest $235
Twilight $120
Junior (any time of day) $ 75

Ka'anapali Kai
Ka'anapali resort guest $139
Non Ka'anapali resort guest $195
Twilight $ 95
Junior (any time of day) $ 55

Practice Facility, Pro Shop and Instruction

Ka'anapali employs two PGA teaching pros with group and individual instruction available and has PGA certified employees on staff in the pro shop. Premium rental clubs and golf shoes rentals are available. The practice facility consists of a driving range, putting green, chipping area and sand trap. The pro shop is recognized as one of the country's best.


2008 Golf Digest 4.5 stars, 2010 "100 Best Golf Shops" by Golf World.

Deals For Resort Guest

The mixed plate-1 round at Royal, 1 round at Kai $269
1, 2, 3 FREE (four rounds) $399
Whale of a deal (five rounds either course) $499
Royal package (7 days unlimited golf) $499

Local Knowledge

The Royal course is set up that the prevailing trade winds will affect your tee shots, so you need to be able to drive low and through the wind. Many of the par 4's will test your mettle, requiring a long iron on your approach. Many greens are protected by sand traps, so shape your tee shot to set up your approach to the green. The Bermuda greens are greatly affected by the grain, which usually runs toward the ocean. But, several greens have ocean on more than one side, so test the grain and aim accordingly. These greens will run uphill if the grain is facing the hole, behaving much like a downhill putt, so it will be very important to spend some time on the practice green.

The Kai course is shorter, but has narrower fairways and many sand traps come into play. Greens on the Kai are smaller and less undulating as the Royal Course, but are also primarily affected by the grain. Since the ocean is not visible from all greens, reading the grain is imperative. Less water hazards than the Royal course, but they are strategically placed, requiring accurate approach shots.


The Clubhouse Café and Bar is a place to stop for a "killer" omelet before your morning round, or stop afterward for the plantation style fried rice or the foot long hot dog, which is almost a meal for two. On your way out, make sure to stop at Tia Juana's Margarita Bar for one of their signature Margaritas.


There is something for everyone at Ka'anapali with over 6,000 rooms available in the Ka'anapali and Sheraton Resort area. Ka'anapali is a can't miss golf experience when visiting Maui.

More Information

Royal and Kai Ka'anapali Golf Courses
2290 Ka'anapali Parkway
Lahaina, Maui, HI 96761

Revised: 03/09/2011 - Article Viewed 31,511 Times

About: Don Kriefall

Don Kriefall Don Kriefall is a golf contributor for Known as as a weekend warrior, Don is still in pursuit of his first hole and one.

When he is not journaling about his travel, Don is either playing with his grand children or his dogs.

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