The Story of Waialae


The Royal Hawaiian Hotel and Waialae Golf Course were built by the Territorial Hotel Co. as part of a promotional program to develop luxury travel trade to Hawaii. Matson Navigation Co. built the luxury passenger liner Malolo as part of this program. The hotel and golf course lands were leased from the Bernice P. Bishop Estate. The Golf Course was opened for play on February 1, 1927.

Mr. Seth Raynor, world famous golf architect, and his associate, Mr. Charles Banks, designed and supervised the building of Waialae. Their outstanding work is reflected on many of our holes.

  • The par three 13th is designed from one on the Biarritz Course in France.
  • Waialae's 8th hole is paterned after the famous Redan hole on the North Berwick Course in Scotland.
  • Our unique 16th hole is similar to the 6th hole of the National Course at Southhampton, Long Island.
  • The 10th Hole introduces features of the 17th or Road hole at St. Andrews in Scotland.

Local players were able to use the course, and by payment of annual fees for play became "privilege card holders" in the Territorial Hotel Company's Waialae Golf Club. In 1930, a group of these Waialae players formed a private club within the Waialae Golf Club which they called Waialae Country Club. Waialae Country Club dates from September 29, 1930 when this group was formally organized and By-Laws were adopted. It enlarged a small service building close to the main clubhouse, installed showers, and had its own clubhouse where the swimming pool is now.


1930s -
The great depression of the 1930s severely reduced travel and resulted in bankruptcy of the Territorial Hotel Co. Matson took over the obligations and interests of the Territorial Hotel Co. which included the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, the Moana Hotel, and Waialae golf Club. During these years play on the course was mainly by local privilege card holders, most of whom were members of Waialae Country Club.


1940s -
In August of 1941, fire destroyed the Waialae Pavilion which was used by Waialae Golf Club for dining and dancing, and Matson decided to turn the golf course and remaining buildings over to Waialae Country Club. Before this plan was consummated, the United States had entered World War II, the military had requisitioned the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, and numerous military defenses had been installed along Oahu's coastline including the golf course at Waialae. Waialae Country Club was incorporated on September 30, 1942 and became lessee of the golf course acreage and a small section of land owned by Matson on which the old Isenberg home (later The Pavilion) had been located. The military built a replacement for the Pavilion because of the heavy use of the course by military personnel during the war.


1950s - The old Waialae Country Club clubhouse was destroyed by fire in 1952, but through the ingenious conversion of the military structure into kitchen and dining facilities, and the building of new locker rooms, Waialae was again in full operation within twenty-four months after the fire. Tennis courts, swimming pool and added parking units were completed in 1958 and Waialae became a Country Club in fact, as well as, name. No major physical changes were made in the golf course layout until 1954 when the 15th hole was lengthened from 320 yards to 435 yards.


1960s - However, in the early 1960s major reconstruction on the front nine was necessitated in order to provide beachfront areas for the Kahala Hilton Hotel and the Kahala Beach Apartments. Holes number 1 and 9 were relocated completely from the green, hole number 2 retained the same green but the hole played from mauka to makai instead of along the coast, and a new tee was required for number 3. At about the same time the Bishop Estate withdrew land where the 7th hole and much of the 6th hole were located for the Kai Nani subdivision, and this required a realignment of the 5th, 6th and 7th holes. The 7th hole had originally run along the beach in a Diamond Head direction but as a result of the subdivision was relocated inland.

Along with the golf course work, a new Pro Shop and a new golf cart storage building were built on the mauka side of Kahala Avenue. The First PGA Tour Hawaiian Open Golf Tournament was held in the fall of 1965. Hawaiian Opens (under various sponsorships) have been held at Waialae since 1928. Extensive work continued on the golf course between 1965 and 1970, with the conversion of all greens from bent grass to tifdwarf, and the installation of an automatic sprinkler system throughout the golf course. During this period much time was spent in finalizing lease agreements with Bishop Estate and with Sheraton Hotels who had in 1959 acquired Matson's hotel interests and two acres of Matson land where the swimming pool and tennis courts are located. Long-term lease agreements were concluded in 1970.


1970s - The Club was now in a position of being able to develop plans for a new clubhouse. Construction work commenced in the summer of 1971, and the new clubhouse was opened on September 1, 1972. Financing was through purchase by members of transfer certificates.


1980s - The main Clubhouse was renovated in 1980, and in 1981 renovations were completed at the Golf Pro Shop. The expansion and renovation of the Men's Grille were completed in June of 1983. On December 19, 1983, a fire completely destroyed the cart shed/club storage building located next to the Golf Pro Shop. Fortunately, the Golf Pro Shop itself sustained only minor damage. A modern and spacious cart shed/club storage building was constructed during 1984 with many fire-safety features.

Numerous capital improvements to the various Waialae facilities over a ten-year period (1984-1994) were projected, and therefore the membership approved an assessment of all members in February of 1985 on the basis of their access to Club facilities and in relation to the dues structure. One of the first capital improvement projects undertaken was the installation of a computerized irrigation system for the golf course, with accompanying reservoir and pump facility. Omnicourt surfacing was installed on the tennis courts in October of 1985, and renovations to the tennis shower and locker rooms as well as swimming pool were accomplished.


2014 - Hale Ohana Ola ' House of Family & Fitness' a multi-functional fitness annex opened in February 2014 for Waialae members and their guests. The 5,179 sq. ft. facility features an exercise room, a fitness room featuring Life Fitness exercise machines, two multi-functional rooms for meetings and social gatherings, lockers and shower facilities. Our Certified Fitness Staff provide on-going training and fitness advise for members who want to achieve a new level of fitness, work on injury recovery or prevention, train for an event, or design a personalized diet and exercise program. Our brand new 'Oceans' outdoor, casual dining was introduced with local entertainment.