Ancient lava fields, cliffside lob shots—Manele Golf Course has earned a top slot on many a golfer’s bucket list of courses.

The islands of hawai’i are known for many things~beautiful palm trees, white sandy beaches, lush flora and a unique culture. For golfers, though, there’s an added layer of beauty to this island paradise, with courses that take advantage of the geographically diverse landscape and transform it into opportunities to challenge and delight all skill levels.

At the Four Seasons Resort Lanai, guests can combine the thrill of having their own island to explore with all the luxurious touches that are synonymous with the Four Seasons name. Lana’i, which has only 3,000 residents, has the unhurried pace of its past while maintaining up-to-date with all the touches and technology of the future.

“It’s a charming plantation town,” says Scott Ashworth, director of golf at Four Seasons Resort Lanai, adding that the resort ofi ers guided experiences on the land, in the water or in the air, as well as a wellness spa, tennis, an array of dining options and more.

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Golf legend and designer of Manele Golf Course Jack Nicklaus regards the Lana'i fairway as one of his best designs ever.

But for many visitors, it’s the golf that proves irresistible. Built on lava outcroppings, the Jack Nicklaus-designed Manele Golf Course uses the unspoiled terrain to present an incomparable backdrop for play. The par-72 course opened in 1993, and stands high above the Hulopo’e Bay, which means dramatic views complete with the crashing surf below.

“One thing that makes it so appealing is the incredible scenery on every hole,” Ashworth says. “And when you add in all the little touches or attention to detail that have gone into this course, it makes for an unbelievable golf experience.”

LABOR OF LOVE

Jack Nicklaus himself has called the Manele Golf Course one of his best designs, and while it has the challenges of a championship course, it also has the welcoming appeal suitable for a more casual game with friends.

The beautiful setting is some of Mother Nature’s finest work, and allowed Nicklaus to position three of the holes on cliffs that use the Pacific Ocean as a water hazard. Even the best golfers find themselves challenged by tee shots that require them to navigate natural gorges and ravines.

Players first experience the challenge of a cliff-top hole on the 12th, which is a par-3 that, if not navigated properly, ends with your ball dropping into the Pacific. Immediately after that hole is a par-4 that has similar challenges—and often sees similar outcomes for golfers.

“We are fortunate to have many ‘signature’ holes,” Ashworth says, adding that No. 17 is one of the most challenging—and the most scenic. It’s also the final cliff-top hole and is a par-4 that is both menacing and beautiful.

“It’s difficult because it sits right on the ocean with nothing to protect from the wind and then requires a carry over the ocean to a relatively narrow fairway. It’s a very difficult shot and can be somewhat intimidating.”

One of the added bonuses of visiting the resort during the winter months is that players are often treated to the sight of whales frolicking in the ocean. Regardless of when they visit, however, Ashworth assures that it’s an unforgettable experience you’ll want to return to again.

The course’s distinctive beauty hasn’t gone unnoticed. It has won nods from such publications as Conde Nast Traveler (Top 100 Golf Resorts), Golf Magazine (Gold Medal Resort) and was named one of the top 20 golf courses in the world by readers of Celebrated Living magazine. Golf for Women also designated it one of the 50 best courses in the world for women.

AFTER THE GAME

When relaxing after an invigorating round of golf, guests can sign up for a variety of complimentary classes, from cooking and mixology workshops to cultural classes and golf clinics. Th ere are also a number of spa and fitness options to suit all levels of ability and interest.

One of the newest attractions is the Lanai Shooting Range and Archery, which allows guests to enjoy sporting clays and archery in the island’s wooded upland forests. Th e 14-station course is designed for all ages.

“Whether novice or experienced, it’s a great adventure,” Ashworth says. Th e challenges include five towers that allow for varying heights and set the stage for a unique and memorable family outing.

ISLAND FARE

Th e fresh flavors of the island factor heavily into the dining options at Four Seasons Resort Lanai. In addition to three lounges—all of which serve a wide selection of creative cocktails and light, casual food offerings—three restaurants with their own flair and distinctive fare ensure you can have the exact dining experience to suit your mood.

Guest favorites include ONE FORTY American Steak, Hawaiian Seafood, which includes an extensive steak and seafood dinner menu with an emphasis on local ingredients; the acclaimed Malibu Farm, which relies on fresh local and organic ingredients to create an exciting lunch menu that has become a favorite of everyone from A-list celebrities to surfers to local residents; and, finally, Nobu Lana’i, which offers both hot and cold Japanese cuisine from the creative mind of star chef Nobu Matsuhisa.

fourseasons.com/lanai