Nanea GC

 Nanea GC- hole 18 with clubhouse in backgroundNanea GC- hole 18 with clubhouse in background

 Nanea (Nar- nay- uh)

"of absorbing interest, interesting: fascinating, enjoyable; repose, leisure, tranquility; relaxed, at ease, at leisure, amused, engaged with, busy with; to have a good time"

Nanea is an exclusive golf club on the west coast of Hawaii's Big Island, located around 15 miles north of Kailua Kona.

The course was designed by Scottish architect David McLay Kidd, and first opened for play in 2003

It is an intriguing course.

Set on the side of the vast slopes of Mount Hualalai the terrain is hardly ideal for great golf.

And with black lava as the base, one would have to say whoever thought of producing a quality links type course on this site might have been out in the sun just a little too long...


But Charles Schwab and George Roberts employed David McLay Kidd to do just that.

They wanted to create a very special meeting place for a select group of members, who can talk business, play golf and enjoy the facilities, away from the 'riff raff'.

The clubhouse is unique and commands superlative views over the course and out to the Pacific Ocean, the dining was superb, and the club service levels were everything you could ask for.

This would be a very nice place to be a member!


Nanea GC- 9th fairwayNanea GC- 9th fairway


The course is not really a true links course and the green paspalum is not normally the grass of choice on links courses.

But the ball does bounce and roll like a links course.

Kidd had a vast parcel of land to work with, and produced a big, sprawling course that measures 7464 yards of the back tees.


At Nanea the fairways are wide, and the first cut of rough is also wide and cut low.

So tee shots on most holes have to be seriously off line to find trouble.

The long fountain grass rippling in the wind offers a nice contrast to the verdant green of the fairway and first cut, but is basically there for definition, and does not trouble the travelling golfer over much…

Long hitters will love this course, because they are rarely penalised for being off line, and can obtain significant advantage by cutting doglegs…


Nanea GC- the distinctive hedging of tussocks on hole 7Nanea GC- the distinctive hedging of tussocks on hole 7


No, the real action at Nanea is on and around the greens!

Perhaps because the whole site is on a constant gradient, it is very difficult to establish whether putts that look downhill compared to surrounding territory, are in fact downhill, and if so, how much!!

I have never been so confounded by greens before!


Caddies are part of the deal at Nanea, but even with a caddie advising on slope and speed on the greens for the entire round, we just could not get our putts in the same postcode as the hole.

Both of us are good putters, and good readers of the green, who have played many of the better and also the craziest greens going around.

We have never floundered as badly!

I concluded that given the base slope the course is built on, that perhaps the greens had just a little too much going on....

As you would expect Nanea is beautiful maintained, and has a links feel-  but while it has that links style, for me it does not really match the standard of the traditional links courses.

Kidd has done a grand job given his canvass but he had very little in the way of natural features to work with.

He manufactured some interesting holes, but at least a couple of the greens are just plain awkward and need reworking.

Nanea GC- 9th green with clubhouse in the backgroundNanea GC- 9th green with clubhouse in the background

Nanea is first and foremost an exclusive club, with wonderful facilities.

It is a lovely place to play golf and rub shoulders with some interesting people.

And if you are fortunate enough to be a guest at Nanea you are guaranteed to have a memorable experience.

 The course is a nice contrast to the Hawaiian courses around- but is not among the better links, or links style courses on a world scale, in my opinion.


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