KAPALUA, HAWAII | There is a gently curving staircase in the clubhouse at Kapalua’s mesmerizing Plantation Course that begs visitors to stand and gawk.
Stop halfway up the staircase or go to the top and lean over the railing outside a small restaurant and the view is almost hypnotic. The first tee sits just beyond the clubhouse walls with a long par-4 tumbling down the hill to a green barely visible in the distance.
Beyond that, the Pacific Ocean glistens or churns, depending on the cloud cover and the trade winds, neither of which detract from the grandeur. Pick the right time of the year and breaching whales are part of the picture.
That would be more than enough anywhere else, but not here.
There is still the island of Molokai looming across the water, its slopes and shadows seemingly close enough to touch. The majesty of the scene never gets old.
As golf destinations go, there may be no place that offers the panorama that Kapalua does. The Plantation Course, designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw in a fit of imagination, gets most of the attention and for good reason. It gets prime-time television love with the Sentry Tournament of Champions each January when much of the Northern Hemisphere is shivering, living vicariously through the images glowing on HD screens in the dead of winter.
The nearby Bay Course, designed by Arnold Palmer, offers its own awe-inspiring views, particularly the par-3 fifth that plays over a sliver of the Pacific, framed by lava rock and sea spray.
Think for a moment about places where you play golf. If you’re fortunate, there is a hole or two that would make for a nice photograph on your den or office wall. At Kapalua, you could fill a wall with photos and not do the place justice.
The reality is Maui is a world away for most people. It is remote and it is expensive. It’s a trip that is often years in the making, a life’s dream come true.
The butterfish at Sansei. The pasta arrabiata at Taverna. A cocktail on the deck at the Ritz-Carlton as the sun goes down.
The beach. The rainbows. The good life.
Here’s the good news: When you visit Kapalua – whether for a day, a week or forever — you won’t be disappointed.
Until you have to leave.