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Puakea Shines Like a Hawaiian Gemstone
John Torsiello
By John Torsiello
Published on 07/2/2015

Puakea Shines Like a Hawaiian Gemstone
Designed by architect Robin Nelson, Puakea Golf Course in Lihue, Hawaii is one of “The Islands” top daily fee golf courses.

The layout is resort quality and built on more than 200 acres of historic property, which was once a sugar cane plantation. Puakea has been named among the “Top 10” nine-hole facilities (prior to it being enlarged to 18 holes) in the U.S. by Sports Illustrated. The magazine stated at the time that Puakea Golf Course “is too spectacular to keep off our list...dramatic in the extreme, the course offers fabulous views of the Pacific and is built amid volcanic cliffs, massive ravines, giant sinkholes and lush tropical undergrowth.”

Work on the course originally began in 1992, but when Hurricane Iniki came through and caused extensive damage construction of the golf course stopped for a time as the island recovered from the storm damage. The land on which Puakea is situated is known as Grove Farm (a co-owner is Steve Case, founder of AOL). The Case family has strong ties to Hawaii, where Steve Case grew up with his family.

Grove Farm began as one of the first sugar cane plantations in 1854. After sugarcane production slowed and eventually ended in the 1990’s, the plan for a golf course reached fruition with the renowned late golf course architect Robin Nelson heading up its design.

In 2000 Grove Farm was bought by Steve Case, and in 2003 construction of eight holes (the original course was 10 holes) were completed and the track opened as an 18-hole facility in the summer 2003.  Sports Illustrated’s website ranked Puakea 15th Best in State in 2014 for Hawaii, and the layout was ranked 15th in state by GolfWeek Magazine in 2013.

Puakea has a state-of-the art practice facility that includes a 40-stall driving range, putting green and spacious short-game practice area. The facility also offers a complete schedule of clinics, private and group lessons.

For before or après golf, stop by at club’s Ho’okipa Café, open for breakfast, lunch and “pupus” from 7 a.m. until sunset.

“I would say overall, Puakea is a fun, great value course,” says Glenn Tamagawa, Head Golf Professional at the course and a Kauai native. “We do not have all the frills and amenities of some of the resort courses, but the course layout is phenomenal and it treats golfers to lush, beautiful landscaping, especially on the back nine.”