A Round in Paradise
Makai Golf Club Is Greener and Better Than Ever
By Jeff Smith
Location, location, location. World-renowned for its tunning views and impeccable playability, both the Prince and Makai Golf Courses in Princeville consistently rank as top courses in the nation. Simply put, golf doesn’t get
much better than at Princeville. While enthusiasts flock from around
the globe to tee off at these challenging courses, many will be pleased
to learn of Princeville’s dedication to maintaining a sustainable and
eco-friendly environment. Recent enhancements to the oceanfront
Makai Golf Club upgraded what was already a fantastic course to a
tournament worthy venue. But behind the reconfigurations on the
greens and the bright white G- 3 silica sand that now fills the bunkers,
the most appealing aspect of the renovation involved Makai’s
initiatives to create a sustainable course that would preserve the land
and protect Kaua‘i’s most precious resources.
In 1971, world-famous golf course designer, Robert Trent Jones,
Jr., was commissioned to create Princeville’s Makai Golf Club.
Developing one of the most remarkable golf destinations, he returned
in 2008 to revamp the same course, updating it for today’s standard of
play. While the enhancements included a great deal of change, most
significant were the renovations to make this an eco-friendly, green
oasis. Non-invasive enhancements and resource saving technology
was added to the course, initiatives that are often unseen by even the
most seasoned of golfers. Just ask a professional at the Makai Golf
Club about the ways the course has been improved to protect the
culture and environment—the explanation usually starts with a smile.
As mavens of the island and its resources, the staff at the Makai Golf
Club are dedicated not only to the sport, but each holds a sense of
aloha ‘äina, love and respect for the land.
Director of Agronomy Seth Miller exudes this very passion when
speaking on the improvements made to Makai saying, “It is the
staff’s desire to elevate the area, to open the course to the beauty
of Princeville and also this verdant isle to the course.” It is obvious
Makai is in the hands of those who are passionate about honoring
the traditions and elements of this game, while maintaining the pure,
natural beauty that Kaua‘i so generously offers.
In order to execute a more sustainable, environmentally friendly
golf course, all tees, fairways and greens were replanted with Seashore
Paspalum grass. Drought resistant and extremely salt tolerant, the
turf is ideal for oceanside holes. Paspalum is an aggressive grass that
grows year-round in tropical climates like Kaua‘i. Unlike traditional
Bermuda grass, Paspalum requires only half the amount of fertilizer
and water. By also minimizing the use of mixed turfs on the course,
the sole use of Paspalum will allow more efficient maintenance and
treatment. And this is just the eco-aspect—golfers take note that
Paspalum creates a smoother, less grainy putting surface on greens,
making them faster and more consistent.
In consideration of another vital element, the Makai Golf Club
is also dedicated to its preservation of water. The course sits on the
North Shore of Kaua‘i and has the blessing of rain throughout most
of the year. However, protecting this precious resource is still of
great priority. Makai now boasts a state-of-the-art weather system
that monitors the climate from solar to wind and precipitation. The
system is also capable of detecting evapotranspiration, the evaporation
levels and loss of water in the soil. Checked multiple times a day, this
new technology allows the staff to accurately tend to the land.