Nuʻuanu Ahupua‘a consisted of one of the largest valleys within the Kona District on the island of Oʻahu. The valley floor was wide and relatively flat due both to a late volcanic eruption at the head of the valley and to the heavy rains captured by Kōnāhuanui, the highest peak in the Koʻolau range.
An early historic account in 1820 by the missionary Hiram Bingham described the ahupua‘a of Nuʻuanu as viewed from ‘Punchbowl Hill’:
“Below us, on the south and west, spread the plain of Honolulu, having its fishponds and salt making pools along the seashore, the village and fort between us and the harbor, and the valley stretching a few miles north into the interior, which presented its scattered habitations and numerous beds of kalo in its various stages of growth, with its large green leaves, beautifully embossed on the silvery water, in which it flourishes …”
“Through this valley, several streams descending from the mountains in the interior, wind their way some six or seven miles, watering and overflowing by means of numerous artificial canals, the bottoms of kalo patches, and then, by one mouth, fall into the peaceful harbor.” (Bingham, Cultural Surveys)
Naʻeʻepa o Waolani is a proverb that refers to the magical ways of the menehune that are “the extraordinary ones of Waolani.” The proverb refers to magical ways that “can make big things happen from what may seem to be only small gestures.” (Kaʻikena)
Pukui notes of Waolani, “Kāne and Kanaloa lived here and here the first man, Wākea, was born.”
“In the valley of Waolani, a side valley from the great Nuuanu, stood one of the sacred Heiaus called Kawaluna, which only the highest chief of the island was entitled to consecrate at the annual sacrifice.”
“As Moi of Oahu the undoubted right to perform the ceremony was with Kualii, and he resolved to assert his prerogative and try conclusions with the Kona chiefs, who were preparing to resist what they considered an assumption of authority by the Koolaupoko chief. …”
“Kualii assembled his men on the ridge of Keanakamano, overlooking the Waolani valley, descended to the Heiau, performed the customary ceremony on such occasions, and at the conclusion fought and routed the Kona forces that had ascended the valley to resist and prevent him. The Kona chiefs submitted themselves, and Kualii returned to Kailua.” (Fornander II)
Thomas CB Rooke, hānai father of Emma (granddaughter of John Young and later wife and Queen of Kamehameha IV,) acquired Waolani Valley (“heavenly mountain area”) on the north side of Nuʻuanu Valley (as such it was also known as Rooke’s Valley.)
In 1906, a group of men selected land in Waolani Valley as the best site for the fourth golf club in the Islands; the new club was to be named Oʻahu Country Club.
The three existing courses at that time were the Moanalua Golf Club (built in 1898,) the Manoa Golf Club (1904) and the Haleiwa Hotel Golf Course (1906.) Of these, only the Moanalua Club is still in existence.
“The history of the movement toward the organization of the Country Club dates back two years, when a self-appointed committee visited the lands known as Waolani valley for the purpose of investigating its feasibility as a site for such an organization.”
“The committee found the land to be so splendidly adapted for the purpose that overtures were made to the owners of the property for a lease with an option of purchase.” (Evening Bulletin, April 6, 1906)
The group leased part of Waolani Valley for an annual rent of $900 in US gold coins. Two years into the lease, they decided to purchase the land outright and reportedly paid 6,000 sterling, the equivalent of $30,000 at that time, for the 378-acres.
The Club’s charter was approved by officials of the Territory of Hawaiʻi on June 8, 1906; thus was the founding of Oʻahu Country Club.
Construction of the first nine holes at Oahu Country Club golf course began in August 1906, and a formal opening of the 2,813 yard course was held on April 27, 1907.
Reportedly, the first golf ball struck at the club was hit by a woman, Annie Walker Faxon Bishop (wife of the Club’s first president, Eben Faxon Bishop.)
The second nine holes were completed in September 1913; the driving range was opened in 1988.
The original OCC Clubhouse was opened with the golf course on April 27, 1907, and in September of that year, two tennis courts were added. (The courts later deteriorated and were torn out due to lack of use.)
Clubhouse changes, renovations and expansions continued until July 31, 1970 when, after 16 months of construction, the present Clubhouse was opened on the same site.
Extensive changes have been made to the layout, lengthening the course to 5,820 yards and a par of 71.
Each year the course is home to the historic Manoa Cup. The Mānoa Cup was donated to Oahu Country Club by the Manoa Golf Club when Mānoa was disbanded in 1908.
Lots of information here is from Oʻahu Country Club and many of the images are © Gary Wild.