Military Secret: Golf at Fort Shafter in Honolulu

The Water J. Nagorski Golf Course at Fort Shafter, within minutes from Waikiki and Downtown Honolulu, is an often overlooked destination for casual duffers on holiday on Oahu. It’s located on an active U.S. Army military base. Most don’t know, however, that the course is open to the public.

Golf in Hawaii is most often characterized by images of seascape resort courses or inviting fairways in a remote rainforest. But you don’t need to book a full golf vacation to take advantage of local courses on any given afternoon on Oahu.

The Water J. Nagorski Golf Course has recently undertaken a multi-million dollar renovation, smoothing fairways and grooming greens. The grass is comfortably green throughout the course. Of course, you have to hit the grass because out-of-bounds is a possibility on pretty much every hole.

The 9th tee at Walter J. Nagorski Golf Course at Fort Shafter.

Nagorski is a nine-hole course. For a full 18, play the nine from the blue tees first, then ease up and play from the shorter white tees. The first hole at the course is a challenging uphill par-3 which generally plays into the prevailing trade winds at nearly 200 yards. It’s forty yards shorter from the white tees the second time around.

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The par-5 holes at Shafter (as we locals refer to it) are challenging. Both play uphill and into the wind. And they’re long. They may be challenging, even for scratch golfers, but the views of the valley that nestles the Walter J. Nagorski Golf Course are worth a lost ball or two.

The 5th Tee at Walter J. Nagorski Golf Course at Fort Shafter in Honolulu

Several of the holes on the course offer sweeping panoramas of downtown Honolulu and Honolulu Harbor. The downhill par-3 5th hole points to the massive shipping cranes that line the main shipping lane in the harbor. Long hitters will be comfortable with a long iron off the tee. Mere mortals will do wisely to club up. Either way, the view is spectacular.

For visitors with a rental vehicle, you’ll just need valid registration, insurance, and safety inspection. For visitors using a ride service like Uber or Lyft, the same applies to the driver.

Stately Plantation-style on Palm Drive at Fort Shafter.

The Walter J. Nagorski Golf Course at Fort Shafter also offers high tech golf carts with ball and club washers, and a handy GPS system to give you highly accurate yardages from everywhere your ball might end up.

You can also take a quick trip around Palm Drive, where the “big brass” of the Hawaii and Pacific Commands take up residence in stately plantation-style mansions that ring an impressive, vast parade ground.

Talk to us here at Hawaii Aloha Travel to set up a round at Shafter, or any of the many golfing options available on Oahu and throughout the Aloha State. Our experts can find the best courses and deals to make a round of golf in paradise a real and affordable possibility for you!