Ask Travelin' Joe: Cabo San Lucas, Hilton Head and Fresno
If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My wife and I are going to Cabo San Lucas this winter and I'm looking for a course to sneak out on while she's getting spa treatments. Any courses you can recommend that are worth playing but won't break the bank?
E.J. Costello, via email
Finding value-priced courses in Mexico's high-end Los Cabos area is like trying to find an honest politician -- they do exist, but they're not plentiful. In Cabo there are few bargains, but now at least there's a new quality option: Club Campestre San Jose ($160-$220; 01152-624-1425327, golfcabosanlucas.com). This Nicklaus Design product is located between the airport and the main resort area. Afternoon rates start at $160. Fees drop if you arrange to play multiple rounds. Sea of Cortez views are free.
I am going to Hilton Head Island and I am on a tight budget. What courses do you recommend for a 16 to 18 handicap?
Ed Meyer, via email
My value pick is Hilton Head National ($58-$64; 843-842-5900, golfhiltonheadnational.com), an engaging 27-holer that successfully merges mounds and marshland. For a more dramatic Lowcountry romp, try Old South ($55-$70; 843-785-5353, oldsouthgolf.com), but expect to surrender a few extra spheres to this salt marsh -- and lagoon -- laced track.
Fresno is the raisin capital of the U.S., so it's no surprise that the newest wrinkle to its golf scene is pretty sweet. Located 30 miles south of downtown in the heart of the Central Valley, Ridge Creek Dinuba Golf Club offers a taste of English heathland. From flat, boring terrain architect John Fought crafted a vast, gently rippling layout with roomy fairways and gigantic, subtly contoured greens. Given the ever-present winds, Fought provided ample space for any class of golfer to blast away with his driver and still find his ball. Admittedly, that ball might be resting in one of the many steep-lipped bunkers scattered across the layout, but at least it's playable.
The strategic bunkering constitutes much of the challenge and variety in the course, but it's pretty clear you're in for a fun day when you compare the daunting yardage from the tips (7,482 yards) with the gentle slope rating (just 126). With a back nine that dishes out two par-4s checking in at 500 yards and a par-5 that runs 648 yards, your driver is sure to get a workout. But there's something to be said for a course that allows the rest of us to bash away with impunity and still walk off No. 18 smiling.