Founded in 1926, Hamakua Country Club is among the oldest golf courses in the Hawaiian Islands. Once surrounded by the nature of the Big Island, today it is surrounded by residential properties that have prevented expansions or big renovations. Thus, Hamakua Country Club is certainly not going to be the largest, most scenic, most challenging, or most amenity-packed golf club you will find on the Big Island, but it does have some key perks that are worthy of note.
You will find the Hamakua Country Club in the small country town of Honokaa on the northern edge of the Big Island of Hawaii. Northern edge, but not northern coast as the golf course sits a good 1,200 feet above sea level. This location offers consistent, gentle trade winds while the elevation poses some nice uphill and downhill challenges as the design of the course definitely played into the hilly terrain here.
The entirety of the Hamakua Country Club spans fifteen acres and includes a clubhouse but no restaurant. The course is set up as a nine-hole with two sets of tees that are labeled white for the course’s outward nine and blue for the inward nine. All nine holes are established as a par 66 for me and 74 for women.
Overall, the atmosphere at Hamakua Country Club is incredibly relaxed. If ever there were an island feel golf course, this is it. Residents pay $20 for unlimited golf for the day and non-residents pay $25 for the same; both can enjoy a $10 Twilight Rate from 4 pm to whenever it’s too dark to see. Note, we say play to evening darkness because no one is going to be rushing you off the course. In fact, often you won’t find anyone at the clubhouse taking money as Hamakua Country Club generally operates on the old school “honor system”, asking patrons to simply drop the correct amount inside the wall’s pay slot and sign in on a clipboard.
Naturally, this low-maintenance style of running Hamakua Country Club does have some obvious drawbacks. This is not going to be the pristinely manicured grounds that other places are going to be. At busy times, you may find yourself waiting behind others. This is also largely considered a walking course, and you should not pop in sans clubs without calling in first. Remember, the staff is not always on-site. That said, if you call ahead of your visit, you can schedule rental golf sets as well as hand trolleys and golf carts.
You are welcome to bring any food or beverages you want to consume while playing, and there are some tables and chairs at the course’s clubhouse to relax before or after your game.
A few reasons to visit the Hamakua Country Club beside the bargain rate include the natural beauty and the fact that it often isn’t busy. Most tourists to the island opt to go to one of the bigger resort courses while the small-town nature of Honokaa itself makes it a bit less used by locals as well as tourists. There are certainly plenty of mornings and especially afternoons when you might find your party alone or with only a few others on the course, offering plenty of time to enjoy a leisure playthrough (or two or three).
Plus also there’s the beauty. Low maintained in terms of grass seeds and on-course landscaping, but quite gorgeous when you look out and can see the rolling hills, towering volcanoes, and far-off oceans. The hilly terrain of Hamakua Country Club offers a bit of a workout but also plenty of great vistas to pause and contemplate.
Don’t want to bring your own food to the course? Make a stop at Tex Drive-In just two blocks down from Hamakua Country Club. This beloved pit stop boasts a nice blend of American burger fare and Hawaiian treats like malasadas.