Course Spy: Ko'olau Golf Club

Ko'olau Golf Club, February 2011
Evan Schiller
Don't be fooled by Ko'olau's beauty. From the tips, the layout has a beastly slope rating of 152.

Ko'olau Golf Club
Kaneohe, Oahu, Hawaii
7,310 yards, par 72
Green fees: $80-$130
808-247-7088
koolaugolfclub.com

Service
A beautiful grass range and a quality restaurant in a sprawling clubhouse with a stunning view are all the amenities you really need. But as a special bonus, the snack shop at the turn sells the island's finest spam musubi, a seaweed-wrapped delight that puts hot dogs to shame.

Pace of Play
One of the country's most punishing layouts (the slope is 152 from the tips), Ko'olau is rarely crowded because casual golfers tend to stay away. Still, balls often go missing, so expect to do some waiting. Even fleet-footed low-handicappers should set aside at least four hours.

Quality
Multiple forced carries and tight fairways flanked by jungly vegetation make this highly stylized target golf. But aside from the 18th, an awkward par 4 that plays over a ravine, the course never feels tricked up. It eases artfully along a mountain backdrop, in a postcard setting.

Value
It's hard to call a course a bargain when you're shelling out more than a C-note. But by Hawaiian standards, the price is right. You won't enjoy resort-style pampering (the vibe is too low-key for that). What you pay for is the chance to take on a formidable challenge.

Verdict
Not for the faint of heart or those with fragile egos, Ko'olau is the antiresort course, and a treat for anyone who relishes a fire-breathing test. Bring an extra sleeve of balls, don't bother keeping score and brace yourself for an exotic adventure on a layout that's like few others.

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