The Best Little Golf Course Anywhere

Michael Kaplan was ready to open Kaua‘i Mini Golf this past weekend

The new Kaua’i Mini Golf Botanical Garden in Kilauea is the centerpiece of a community center that will include two theaters

The highly anticipated Kaua’i Mini Golf Botanical Garden is open.

“Just from the calls we’ve been getting already, people are really excited to see what’s going on. People are already calling to book reservations for parties,” says Anaina Hou project manager and Kaua’i Mini Golf general manager Michael Kaplan. The invitation-only grand-opening celebration was slated for this past Sunday.

The family-friendly 18-hole miniature golf course is part of the initial phase of the Kilauea project, Anaina Hou (a new gathering), and was something the community was seeking in an effort to help educate and entertain its keiki.

After several years of planning and many meetings with folks in the community, Kaplan approached landowner Bill Porter with the idea of bringing a youth-oriented activity to the North Shore. Following Porter’s purchase of the 15-acre parcel of land in June 2006, Kaplan spent the first year talking to the community, and says “youth activities was a big one” as far as what people wanted to see occur in the empty parcel of land.

“The community also wanted to rezone from industrial back to agricultural,” he says.

A great deal of planning and design went into opening the new mini course

In fact, shopping centers were originally proposed for the land until it changed hands in 2006.

“What was great about Mr. Porter, he was really open-minded about the whole thing,” says Kaplan regarding Porter’s choice to make favorable community-oriented use of the land. He wanted “something the community could embrace.”

“The first goal of the project wasn’t necessarily to make money,” he adds.

And while most people think of mini-golf courses as kitschy, this particular facility is surrounded by a lush landscape, taking the native culture into account with a Hawaii history-themed botanical garden.

“It’s the nicest mini-golf course ever,” Kaplan says. “Not to brag, but it’s true.”

It is the size of the two-acre course, complete with a concession stand offering locally made refreshments, that makes it one-of-a-kind on the island. Even though the project took several years from planning to progress, Kaplan says it will be rewarding to see people finally getting the opportunity to appreciate the new amenity.

“The ultimate goal is for people to have fun, enjoy themselves and learn a little something,” he says about the facility, which will employ 10 to 15 people.

But Kaua’i Mini Golf won’t be the only activity folks will soon be able to enjoy at Anaina Hou. A Kilauea Pavilion will eventually be located on-site as well, and will include an indoor and outdoor theatre, along with a certified community kitchen. In addition, a nursery is slated to open with plants available for purchase. The permitting process is still under way for the next phases, and a hearing is set for January.

“Going through each step of the process, there have been a lot of hurdles, but once you accomplish that, it’s a great feeling,” Kaplan says.

Taking an idea and actually seeing it come to fruition is a “very rewarding experience,” he adds, regarding the first development project he has ever worked on. “I really got to work on a project that was embraced by a lot of people – not everyone, but a lot,” he says.

Kaplan with botanical garden manager Bino Castelo

Visitors and kama’aina alike are encouraged to use the Kaua’i bus system with the new park-and-ride facility that will open this month at Anaina Hou.

This is all a unique experience people “are going to like and want to come back,” he says.

Call 828-2118 or visit kauaiminigolf.com for more information.

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