Staying The Course (For Lunch)

Jo McGarry
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Wednesday - June 28, 2006
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Roy’s Ko Olina executive chef Michael Leslie
Roy’s Ko Olina executive chef Michael

If there’s a sport I love more than all others, it has to be golf. Not because I was born just a stone’s throw from the world-famous Old Course at St. Andrews, but because golf is the one sport that tells you so much about yourself - and the people you’re playing with.

A wise man once said, “If you want to see how a person will behave in a business relationship, take them to a golf course.” Honesty and integrity rule on those greens and fairways, and on a bad day, there’s no game more able to test your patience or your temperament.

Sadly, I’ve not played a decent game of golf in four years. Not that I’m terrible, more that the 52-inch girth that came along with my two very recent pregnancies meant that for the past couple of years I was barely able to see my toes, let alone tee off.

I’m looking forward to regaining my game in the next few years and think of this temporary hiatus as one of the many sacrifices of mommyhood. But just because my game lost its sparkle ( oh, OK, its dull sheen) doesn’t mean I’ve avoided golf courses entirely. My playing might be awful, but my palate is in top form, and this past week I visited a couple of the islands’best courses - to try out their food.

You might be surprised at the very high level of culinary excellence you can find hidden behind the bunkers, or in the case of Luana Hills, amid gorgeous tropical trees and plants. Luana Hills has to be one of the most beautiful, best-kept secrets in Hawaii. The course appears to be carved right into the Koolaus, and the views through mountain and across to the ocean are quite spectacular. It’s a challenging course, but not one that fills you with fear and a lament for lost balls.

There’s a utilitarian sort of a dining room that serves nice lunches, but it’s the Sunday brunch that’s well worth a visit.

It’s one of those spectacular, lavish, no-you-could-never-eat-itall buffets that features carving stations, dozens of different hot and cold entrees, poke station, omelette stations and an entire room full of desserts.

“People just walk away raving about it!” says food and beverage manager Shelly McLain. I can see why - the views across the mountains from the floor to ceiling glass doors makes it a spectacular place to have brunch.

I drove to the opposite side of the island to attend the inaugural Johnnie Walker Invitational last week - and despite the drive through traffic to Ko Olina, we arrived in remarkably good spirits and headed straight for Roy’s restaurant.

There’s a wonderful bar that looks right over the course here and the combination of sitting outside enjoying a taste of Roy Yamaguchi’s excellent food, waiting for sunset and watching golfers ending their day is quite wonderful. The 18th hole at Ko Olina was voted the most beautiful finishing hole in Hawaii, and Roy’s restaurant sits right on the lake in this gorgeous location.

The food at Roy’s is in the capable hands of executive chef Mike Leslie, and you don’t really need me to tell you that it’s all good. If you happen to live out on the Leeward side, then lucky you - you’ve got a wonderful restaurant with stunning views right on your doorstep.

And while it might not be quite on the course, Ola at Turtle Bay is right on the ocean and provides a welcome stop for anyone who travels to Turtle Bay to golf. Lunch, dinner and pupu are all quite delicious creations of chef Fred DeAngelo - served with an oceanside view.

And yes, I know that to improve my game dramatically I need to play more courses - not eat them.

Happy eating!

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