The Oahu Disc Golf Retreat

Sunshine, glowing blue water, palm trees… it’s hard not to fall in love with the islands of Hawaii. In November of 2022, my wife Brandy Baumrucker (@brandy), and I (@dave) found ourselves on the beautiful island of Oahu for our wedding and as the the first guests of the Oahu Disc Golf Retreat… a disc golf honeymoon of sorts. Hosted by Jason Kozlik (@oahudiscgolf), a full time resident, and head of the Oahu Disc Golf Club, Jason fits the mold as the perfect guest you’d have in mind when thinking about a disc golf retreat. Friendly and inviting, knowledgeable of the local community and culture, and not to mention a talented disc golfer, Jason delivered on everyday of our experience!

Picking us up from our hotel in Honolulu, we began our experience with a quick tour of the Waikiki area, a grilled shrimp dinner overlooking the water, and then onto a pop-up night round at Koko Head Park; a large park hosting baseball fields, family areas, and tennis courts. As the evening set in, we made our introductions with the local players and were soon greeted by the local youth baseball players finishing their game. Curious at all of us throwing discs into baskets, we soon found our group dumping out our bags and watching the smiles form across the kids faces as they took pointers from the local disc golfers and began filling the field with arching shots. As night fell, it became time for the round, with a core group setting up 2-3 holes at time for our 18 hole round; the perfect welcome into our adventure.

As Day 1 began, Jason greeted us with what would become a daily gift of dynamic breakfasts greeting us as we came down into the kitchen. Before we connected for the days round at local permanent course, we set out to explore the Albatross breeding ground sanctuaryOne of only a handful of areas around the world where these special birds breed, the sanctuary is tucked along a secluded coastline on the far west coast of the north side of the island. It’s hard to put into words the surreal feeling of leaving Minnesota in November to then be dipping your toes into the ocean, exploring for sea shells, seeing the small fledglings and adults flying overhead, and even monk seals taking time to lounge on the beach.

Our afternoon took us to the Hawaii Country Club, the oldest public golf course on Oahu. The course opened in 1957, hosting views of the Koolau Mountains, Pearl Harbor, and Diamond Head. Over the past few years, Jason has worked with the owners and staff to develop an 18 hole disc golf course integrated into the terrain filled with hills, valleys, and Monkeypod trees. Loading up our golf carts, something that takes disc golf to new level, we set out on a very memorable round with incredible views, brief rain showers, and a rainbow to welcome us as we begin the final few holes on the back 9.

Day 2 began with another great breakfast and early morning stop at Turtle Beach, where we spent time lounging on the beach and watching the sea turtles come into the shallows. As the afternoon came, we connected with another group of local players for a handicap league at the permanent course located at Kupuohi Park. To no surprise, Brandy and I were welcomed into the group with wonderful mix of disc golf culture and the Aloha spirit. While this course was compact, it was unique in so many ways. Tucked into the neighborhood next to the homes and local shopping area, the course is filled with large mature trees, rolling red clay hills, and views of the mountain tops. It hosts a combination of par 3 and par 4 holes, giving you a surprising amount of a variety on a course that maximizes every inch of the park area.

Day 3 was an Adventure Day, with a 2 mile trek up into the jungle filled mountains to reach Maunawali Falls. Now before we can embark on an all day adventure… you need to fuel up! Jason brought Brandy and I to one of his favorite spots, Hale’iwa Bowls – a niche little shop that puts together an incredible variety of chia, acai, granola, fruit bowls. When, not if, you make it to Oahu… make sure you treat yourself to one of these bowls, it’s going to change your life!

Stepping out of the parking lot and onto the path, you are transported back in time to a magical place. From the smell of the guava trees and flowers, to the fresh water streams and Jurassic Ferns, it is easy to feel like a story book character from your childhood going on an adventure. Quickly, I think is important to point out that the Jurassic Ferns are not only incredible, but are huge, like twelve to twenty feet high huge!

As we crest the top of the ridge you are greeted with one of the most beautiful views of the island, looking down over the rainforest as it transitions down toward the shoreline. 

We finally reach our destination after descending down into the valley and making our way over some streams to Maunawali Falls; a tranquil secluded spot, hosting what feels like your own personal waterfall and cove. We concluded adventure day with a stop at the store for supplies, with Jason creating a 3 course salmon dinner that was exactly what the doctor ordered after a full day of hiking.

Day 4 was something special. Continuing with what has established itself as a rolling theme of fantastic breakfasts created by Jason, we headed out to Fort DeRussy, an armed forces recreational park located in downtown Honolulu. We met up with the local players at the Waikiki Brewing Company for lunch, walking across the street into the park for a one of a kind pop-up round set in the heart of the city.

Wrapped with tall buildings, palm trees, and views of the ocean, I found myself taking in every moment of this very special round. This is where it’s also necessary to throw a Big Shout Out to the local Oahu Disc Golfers, a dynamic group of easy going, very talented, and inviting people; with a willingness to stop and get to know you in a very real way – something that still stays with me while writing this months later.

As we close out the round, Brandy and I are presented with a traveling memorial disc for James Morrison (#106424) originating from the South Lake Tahoe Disc Golfers. After taking what has become one of my favorite disc golf group photos, we accept the disc – returning it to our home course, Oakwood Park in Cottage Grove, MN to continue its journey and living memorial to James.

Day 5 we fill up on another dynamite breakfast and head out to the top, I mean very top of the island to Waahila Ridge State Park. How to I describe this park? As you enter, you leave the tropical landscape you know as Oahu, and step into a pine tree forest…wild! Introduced in 1870’s, when the islands of Hawaii were being settled, Australian visitors brought with them Casuarina (Ironwood or Australian Pine). This special tree has the ability to grow in the poorest of soils and reach heights of 100 feet – reminding Brandy and I of our years living in Missoula, MT with the Red Pines lining the courses of Blue Mountain and Pattee Canyon. (Shout out to the the 406!)

As we meet up with the local players for their afternoon league, we step into rows of densely packed trees for what became the most technical day of the retreat. Presented with off-set layers of 10-15 foot gaps off the tee, blind approaches, and a slippery needle covered ground, the pop-up league at Waahila Ridge State Park will humble even the most skilled players – as accuracy was necessary to come remotely close to shooting par for the round. That being said, this was one of the most unique and memorable rounds we have ever played!

Day 6 was our final day of our retreat. As we would be catching our plane later in the afternoon, Jason arranged to send us off in style, with one final round at the monthly tournament held at the West Lock Community Shoreline Park. Set along the water front, the park hosts beautiful views of the ocean, island landscape, and is packed with mature trees and beautiful flowers.

This event was special as we were not only able to connect with even more players from Oahu, but with several players that flew in from other islands as well. Now there is one thing to know about Oahu in the fall, there is wind…a lot of wind. Much like the technical challenges the day before, the constant 15-25 mph gusts presented all the players with challenges – but also offered some incredible spectating of the local pros showing their skills throwing in to head winds, tail winds, cross winds…. my hats off to all of them!

As Brandy and I completed our final round, we said goodbye to our new connections on Oahu, and Jason, who has now become a very close friend. Looking back, there is no doubt that we filled our plate each and every day we had at the retreat, and at the same time I cant help but be taken back by how fast the time went bye.

Hawaii is, and will always be a magical place – complemented by the heritage and culture of its indigenous people, the 21st century melting pot of the Pacific, and now home to one of the most unique and dynamic disc golf cultures the world has ever seen.

To those of you on the mainland (USA), or those reading this from across the world, hit up my boy Jason Kozlik (@oahudiscgolf) if you are looking for the disc golf vacation that is sure to check all the boxes, challenge your skills, and immerse yourself into the island life – this is it!

As I sign off, and say my farewells to a trip that touched my soul and changed my life, I ask you all to please remember this… the Aloha spirit calls to all of us, so you must ask yourself… will you answer the call?


Dave Baumrucker

“Mahalo” is a Hawaiian word meaning thanks, gratitude, admiration, praise, esteem, regards, or respects.

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