Ask Travelin Joe: The Ozarks, Los Angeles and Montreal
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I am taking a trip to the Southern Missouri/Northwest Arkansas Ozarks and would like to play a few rounds of golf. I am open to all types of courses and price ranges, but usually like to get the best bang for the buck. I will be traveling with my wife, 9-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son, so resorts with amenities other than golf would be great, too. Recommendations?
Junction City, Kan.
To compensate for those guilt pangs of being without the family for 6 hours, I'm sending you straight to the best course in the area, the Tom Fazio-designed Branson Creek Golf Club ($90-$99; 417-339-4653, bransoncreekgolf.com), a rolling track with lakes, hills and mountain vistas. Fortunately, Branson's myriad attractions will allow your family to forget all about you-for 6 hours, anyway.
For lodging, check out the Westgate Branson Woods Resort and Cabins (888-808-7410, wgbransonwoods.com), an affiliated partner of Branson Creek, which offers indoor and outdoor pools, a lighted playground, bike rentals and plenty more.
If you'd prefer the prices and tranquility of Arkansas, don't miss Stonebridge Meadows ($30-$54; 479-571-3673, stonebridgemeadows.com) in Fayetteville, a testing Randy Heckenkemper creation near the University of Arkansas that might be the region's top value.
Dear Travelin' Joe,
My husband and I are traveling to Los Angeles County. Can you please recommend two top-rated courses and two mediocre ones for us to play?
Pei Pei Cheng-de Castro
New York, N.Y.
For top-tier tracks, I'd start with Trump National Los Angeles ($160-$375; 310-303-3240, trumpgolf.com), a spectacular -- and spectacularly priced -- layout 25 minutes south of LAX designed by your fellow New Yorker, Donald J. Trump. While it's claustrophobically cramped in spots, its bluff-top location overlooking the Pacific Ocean is unforgettable.
Twenty-five miles east of L.A. is Industry Hills at Pacific Palms Resort (626-810-4653, ihgolfclub.com), which serves up two memorable courses. The Ike ($100-$135, $75 twilight) is the stronger of the two, but the narrower, shorter Babe (Zaharias) course is equally hilly and 15 bucks cheaper.
Mediocrity is relative, of course, but two low-priced alternatives with huge plusses and minuses are Los Verdes Golf Course ($25-$45.50, 310-377-7888, losverdes.americangolf.com) and Rancho Park ($31-$51; 310-839-9812, rpgc.org). The former boasts stunning ocean vistas and the latter offers serious PGA Tour history. If you can get past the glacial pace of play, you'll enjoy.
I may be relocated through my job to Montreal. I would be there in the warm weather months-what are the must-play courses? Any parts of town that would put me closest to a variety of quality courses?
Bone up on your French, and you'll do just fine in Canada's second largest city. Quality golf is scattered throughout, but your best bet is a half-hour or so north of downtown, where the top public golf facility, Montreal Island Golf Club ($40-$70; 514-448-6000, cgimgolf.com) is situated. Irishman Pat Ruddy crafted two 18s, the North, a 6,600-yard parklander and the South, a 7,180-yard links-like spread. Both are compelling, but the South is the brawnier affair-and is $10 more to play.
Nearby is Le Versant Golf Center ($25-$65; 450-964-2251, golfleversant.com/en/), with four courses -- the best being the 7,103-yard Des Seigneurs layout.