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Along the Oahu’s Waianae Coast, the famous Makaha Beach and Yokohama Bay further up the coast are the most popular destinations for more intrepid visitors not dissuaded by the 90-minute drive from Waikiki or the grittiness of life out there. There is a string of public parks at beaches in Nanakuli, Waianae, and Maili, but other than beaches there isn’t much to do on the Waianae Coast.
Unless you happen to be a golfer, that is. The Makaha Valley Country Club offers sweeping ocean views, significant elevation changes, and an 18-hole championship course that is as beautiful as it is challenging. Green fees can be prohibitively expensive for visiting golfers in Hawaii, and Makaha Valley Country Club is one of the only courses with green fees under $100 for nonresidents in the state.
The dominant features at Makaha Valley are the valley walls themselves. Horizontal striations run the length of the valley and jagged ridges and deep gouges eroded by rainwater over the millennia climb to the sky. Golfers marvel at the raw natural beauty. From the higher elevations at Makaha Valley, the horizon opens up with a view out to Makaha Point.
Makaha Valley Country Club’s course is deceptively inviting, with wide, green fairways populated by Norfolk pines and giant monkey pod trees. But it poses some significant challenges, too. The shortest par three is over 150 yards, and the rest are closer to and over 200 yards.
The first hole is a blind tee shot that doglegs downhill to the right with a 50-foot elevation change and an uphill approach to the green. All of the greens at Makaha Valley are massive, but that doesn’t mean they’re easy. They’re not. They say everything breaks toward the ocean in Hawaii, and that’s generally true. But watching a putt bend impossibly toward the coast on what appears to be a perfectly flat green is enough to confound even the most patient golfer.
The final hole at Makaha Valley is one of the most challenging. The tee shot on this difficult par 5 is wide open, but the second shot is blind, and it doglegs down and right, much like Hole #1, but with much more elevation change. Par here is a victory.
It’s a long way out to Makaha Valley Country Club, but the views and the course itself, and the fact that it’s practically always sunny in that part of Oahu make it worth the time and effort. The restaurant in the clubhouse is excellent and reasonably-priced. There is a drive up window for golf carts to grab a snack and beverages at the turn after the 9th hole. And the reasonable green fees and club rentals for nonresidents mean that you can get a round in at a world class golf course for under $150.