than one golf writer has described The Dunes at Maui Lani golf course
as a "British Open course on Maui." The Dunes is indeed
inspired by such great venues, with its clever hole designs and
rugged terrain closely mimicking the birthplace of golf. A million
years ago, The Dunes was submerged beneath the sea. Most classic
links courses in Ireland and Scotland are by the water. But in Hawaii
it is a little different because many of the shorelines are of lava.
There are few real dunes in the islands.
Maui's Central valley
however, known as the Kahului isthmus, rests between two separate
volcano mountain ranges. Over tens of thousands of years, as the
volcanoes rose, and the sea receded from the Isthmus, sand dunes
formed where The Dunes at Maui Lani is today. Settlers over the
past two centuries cultivated much of the land, but the site where
The Dunes lies was mostly left untouched. It is one of the few
spots in Hawaii where true dunes exist.
occurred when The Dunes was designed and built six years ago;
a departure from the modern-day American course architecture that
has ruled for much of the last century.
Its layout routes up,
down, over, and around the course’s ancient alluvial sand
dunes (not through them). These dunes, which were shaped by the
winds over a million-year time span, are where the holes weave
and turn. Golf shots must be played through these gaps formed
by nature, much like they are in the greatest links courses on
Like many classic links
courses, the front nine heads out, and the back nine heads in.
According to Nelson, “Anyone who has seen Ballybunion, Wild
Dunes, or Shinnecock Hills will recognize a similar look and feel
at The Dunes.