Island Time

Alluring vacation destinations abound from mountains to deserts, but there’s something special about islands. Think dreamy beach walks graced by warm breezes, palm trees, rum drinks, and an idyllic lifestyle it’s easy to imagine enjoying forever. Throw in some oceanside golf courses and the combo is hard to beat. Here are several Troon-managed destinations just perfect for the island-lover in all of us.


KauaiThe Ocean Course at Hōkūala 

For many people, Hawaii is the ultimate island destination. There are five main islands where beach, golf, and luxury accommodations combine: Kauai, Oahu, Lanai, Maui, and Hawaii Island.

On Kauai, both Princeville Makai Golf Club on the north shore and The Ocean Course at Hōkūala on the southeastern shore near the Lihue Airport, are drop-dead gorgeous locations for golf. Verdant cliffside holes are backdropped by endless ocean views, punctuated in winter months by the tail slaps and breaches of migrating humpback whales.

The big news at Princeville in 2023 is the opening of the new 1 Hotel Hanalei Bay, where personal well-being and island luxury intersect in a resort experience, only a short ride from the golf course. Hole 7 on the Makai course is worth the price of the flight all by itself, an over-ocean par three with the stunning ridgelines of the Na Pali Coast behind.

The Ocean Course at Hōkūala, meanwhile, is part of Timbers Kauai Ocean Club & Residences. The Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course here boasts the longest stretch of oceanfront holes in the state, capped by the exciting par-4 16th that features a putting surface jutting onto a peninsula with a scenic lighthouse alongside. Activities at the resort include foot golf and scenic walking and biking trails for families who seek an energetic vacation.

Maui’s Kapalua hosts the annual Sentry Tournament of Champions that kicks off the PGA Tour’s new year, with Jon Rahm winning in 2023. The tournament is played across the Coore-Crenshaw-designed Plantation Course, a big-shouldered test of the game sited on the lower slopes of the West Maui Mountains. Broad ocean views are found on every hole, and when stepping onto the 17th and 18th tee boxes, both playing downhill and downwind, it’s not hard to put yourself in the shoes of Tiger Woods and the many professionals who have challenged this worthy course.

A few miles from Kapalua are the Ka’anapali Golf Courses. There are two resort-style, 18-hole layouts here. The Royal Ka’anapali Course (1962) hosted the Champions Tour Skins Game from 2008-2011, with the likes of Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, and Jack Nicklaus participating. The routing leads down to the Pacific at the green of No. 5, where players putt out next to gently lapping ocean waters. Ka’anapali Kai is a 1975 Arthur Jack Snyder design (2005 Robin Nelson redesign) that roams the foothills behind the resort, offering wonderful ocean and mountain views.

Hawaii Island is also known as the Big Island, and with good reason. It’s the largest and most environmentally diverse of the Hawaiian archipelago, and the two Troon-affiliated courses here reflect that diversity. On the Kohala Coast, known for its lovely beaches, swimmable ocean waters, and luxury resorts, golfers will find two of the best lava-field courses in the state at Mauna Lani. The contrast between the dark black a’a lava and the emerald-green fairways creates an almost surreal landscape in which to play golf, but the sheer fun of the design, combined with several oceanfront holes, makes it a joy to be out here.

A new Auberge Resort at Mauna Lani has elevated the laid-back luxury quotient a couple of notches also.
Other Troon-affiliated courses in Hawaii include Volcano Golf Course, located near the summit of Kilauea Volcano on Hawaii Island; Kapolei Golf Club and Pearl Country Club on Oahu; The King Kamehameha Golf Club on Maui, and the nine-hole Kukuiolono Golf Course on Kauai.


Bahia BeachBahia Beach Resort & Golf Club

Puerto Rico’s island charms are nowhere more evident than at Bahia Beach Resort & Golf Club. A stately St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort anchors this private enclave, with guests enjoying 18 holes of Robert Trent Jones Sr.-designed golf. A Certified Audubon International Gold Signature Sanctuary, the layout routes through the master-planned community and around a network of interconnected lakes that Jones took full advantage of in his design. Fifteen of the holes border some form of water, in fact, as the course emerges onto the Atlantic coast for the dramatic final three holes.

A spectacular trio, the 442-yard, par-4 16th runs down the beach, requiring a demanding approach; the 17th is a par-3 tucked inland; and the 18th is another strong par 4 that stretches along the ocean shore.

In addition to golf, St. Regis guests can luxuriate on two miles of crescent beach, lounge at the beachfront pools, get active with paddle boarding, kayaking, or fishing on the lakes and the Espiritu Santo River, take a swing at the tennis courts, or go jogging or biking on 4.2 miles of nature trails. The beach is also a nesting area for the giant Leatherback and smaller Hawksbill sea turtles, a wonderful sight to see.

Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Puerto Rico Golf & Beach Resort, with its large outdoor pools and water activities, is an ideal place to take the family. If the family plays golf, so much the better, as there are 36 holes at this stellar resort. Quite a few top men’s and women’s collegiate events have been staged at this resort over the years, often on the Greg Norman-designed River Course. Named because it winds around the Mameyes River, the verdant River Course is a joy to navigate and dishes up stellar views.

Tom and George Fazio designed the nearby Ocean Course. Playing 6,716 yards, this course is situated between the mountains of the El Yunque Rainforest and the majestic Atlantic Ocean, and winds through lakes and natural contours, with ocean vistas at every tee.

PXG Clubs


The Bahamas are an idyllic sun and sea destination, with crystal blue waters and soft sand beaches where fun and relaxation are easy to find. Add gaming, eco-tourism, and some of the best golf experiences you could dream of, and you’ve got a winning combination.

All of these elements align perfectly at Baha Mar in Nassau. This stellar resort with a stunning Jack Nicklaus Signature course next door — the Royal Blue Golf Club (Main photo at Top) — makes for a true immersion in paradise.

Baha Mar encompasses three iconic hotels, 45 different dining and nightlife options, a 30,000-square-foot spa, a 100,000-square-foot casino, championship golf, and its newest enticement, a 15-acre beachfront water park called Baha Bay that will thrill kids and adults alike with its many amenities. It even includes a wave-surfing pool.

So much to do … but that Jack Nicklaus design at Royal Blue awaits. Players find a demanding front nine that unfolds over mostly level terrain with rippled mounding, low-rising sand dunes, bold bunkering, and water hazards on eight of the nine holes, many in the form of salt-water ponds. Oh, and handsome views of the Atlantic Ocean come early and often.

The back nine is a completely different story. Roomier fairways, dramatic elevation changes, jungle-like foliage, and holes that zigzag through what Nicklaus calls “moonscaping” — a lunar-like landscape of limestone rock outcroppings — spice up the play.

All told, Royal Blue is an environmental triumph that incorporates as many as 15 species of native trees, more than 70 species of birds, and an actual bat cave in the trees to the right of the 16th hole.

On Paradise Island, the masterfully conceived and stunningly beautiful Tom Weiskopf-designed Ocean Club offers every element for the perfect game. This 18-hole, par-72 course stretches over 7,100 scenic yards on Paradise Island’s peninsula, where crosswinds challenge even the most experienced players.
Turquoise ocean views are prominent from every palm tree-lined hole, and several holes play so close to the beach you could take a swim between pars if you so desired. In addition to player accolades every time they walk off the 18th green, Ocean Club Golf Course annually ranks high in major golf and travel publications as among the best golf resorts in the world.

Several hotels and resorts are available nearby, from family friendly and all-inclusive to exclusive retreats.


Velaa Private IslandVelaa Private Island

If the Maldives is firmly established as one of the top handful of remote island getaway destinations on the planet, then Velaa Private Island, home to Jose Maria Olazábal’s first-ever dedicated short game academy, is perhaps the ultimate expression of that luxury.

White sand, coconut palms, and pristine coral reefs are a staple of the Maldives, which stretches across more than 550 miles of Indian Ocean to the southwest of Sri Lanka. Two key attributes set Velaa apart. One is the sheer quality of the experience. From Michelin-starred cuisine to the immaculately appointed villas, every tiny detail has been refined to an almost overwhelming degree.

Velaa’s second defining characteristic is the Velaa Golf Academy. Comprising six immaculately conditioned green complexes and nine tee options designed to give guests a range of hole choices at a variety of lengths, the facility also boasts a state-of-the-art indoor studio equipped with a launch monitor and advanced swing analysis software. “When I tell people about this island, I say it’s the closest thing you can get to paradise,” Olazábal says. “It’s hard for words to adequately do this place justice. You have the pristine white beaches and the coral reef, but here you also have something that’s completely unique to the Maldives: a golf academy that you can reserve entirely for your own use or take a private lesson with the teaching professional. I don’t really know anywhere else in the world where a golfer could enjoy that privilege.”


Oceans4PGA Ocean’s 4

As the name suggests, PGA Ocean’s 4, located on the southeast coast of the Dominican Republic, approximately 60 miles east of the country’s capital city of Santo Domingo, features a foursome of oceanside holes that will linger long in your memory.

The layout, designed by Jack Lund of Maverick Golf, includes three distinct styles, as Lund told Golf Course Architecture in May 2020. “The opening holes of both nines are predominantly parkland with lakes and mature trees. As the player approaches the coastline, trees,” he said. “and lakes give way to dunes, cordgrass, and pot bunkers, creating a links feel. Holes 14 to 16 have been carved through sandstone rock and scrub vegetation, creating a feel reminiscent of the desert courses in Arizona, in complete contrast to the rest of the holes.”

Ocean’s 4 is primarily a resort course. “As a consequence,” Lund said, “it offers generous fairways on the par fours and fives. Water is obviously a dominant factor in the layout of the course; lakes border seven holes and the course’s name came from the signature four holes which follow the Caribbean coastline.”

Of the foursome overlooking the Caribbean (holes seven, eight, 16, and 17), one stands above the rest. The eighth is a par 5 with a double fairway separated by an island of coconut palms next to the sea that borders the right side from tee to green. The player has the option of playing more safely, or taking risks if he or she is a big hitter and can try to reach the green in two strokes.

Tee times are available for guests staying at nearby resorts, including Bahia Principe Luxury Bouganille and Bahia Principe Grand La Romana.