Ask Travelin' Joe: Where to play in Denver, Treetops vs.Turning Stone and more
If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dear Joe: I'm going to Denver in June and have only one day to play. I'm a 20-handicap but would like to play the best course in the area. Cost is not a problem.
—Dean Blank, Twin Falls, Idaho
The Mile High City has lots of value layouts, but if money's no issue, Richie Rich, play the trophy tracks.
Start with The Ridge at Castle Pines North, pictured, ($69-$145; 303-688-4301, theridgecpn.com), which serves up a quality Tom Weiskopf design and Pikes Peak views with Troon Golf service and conditioning. I also like Fossil Trace ($58-$85; 303-277-8750, fossiltrace.com), a Jim Engh creation that features the remnants of brick and sandstone pillars in the fairways and a view of the Coors Brewery from the 13th tee.
Finally, there may be better courses in the Denver area, but none are more memorable than Arrowhead ($70-$140; 303-973-9614, arrowheadcolorado.com), a 41-year-old Robert Trent Jones Jr. design that sits among huge, jagged plumes of red sandstone, most notably at the downhill par-3 13th.
My friends and I are booking our golf trip. It's down to the Treetops Resort in Michigan or Turning Stone in New York. I'm voting for Treetops, but the casino aspect at Turning Stone is enticing. Your thoughts?
—Craig Emuss, Toronto, Ont.
Treetops (866-348-5249, treetops.com) and Turning Stone (800-771-7711, turningstone.com) are both quality options with much in common: Both feature five courses, including outstanding Rick Smith designs. Smith is better known for his teaching prowess than his architectural skill, but his tracks at both spots are superb.
For exciting, dramatic terrain, I'd go with Treetops, where you can play both Smith's Signature course and the Masterpiece, by Robert Trent Jones Sr. If you're a gambling man, Turning Stone's spacious, 24-hour casino has more than 80 table games and is one terrific bet. (Get it? "Bet"? Hellooo ... is this thing on?)
My wife would like to go to Alaska this summer for her 60th. Part of the deal is that I get to play one round of golf just so I can say I played in Alaska. We will be in the Anchorage/Palmer area. Any recommendations?
—John Price, via e-mail
Our wives sound like they're stuck in very similar situations. Good man! I've only played in Fairbanks, but the pick for Anchorage is a toss-up between two decent spreads: Eagleglen at Elmendorf Air Force Base ($67; 907-552-3821, elmendorf-richardson.com/eagleglen) and Anchorage Golf Course ($65; 907-522-3363, anchoragegolfcourse.com).
Eagleglen is a 1973 Robert Trent Jones Jr. design where moose and bald eagle sightings are common and Ship Creek twists through the final five holes. Anchorage GC is also a wildlife haven that provides vistas of the Chugach Mountains, Cook Inlet and Mt. McKinley. Oh, and remember: Half the fun of playing in Alaska are those 10 p.m. tee times!
My friends and I — divided between New Jersey and Massachusetts — are planning four days of golf, staying and playing in Rhode Island. Do you have any recommendations in that area?
—Gary Ost, Madison, N.J.
I would choose Foxwoods Resort Casino (860-312-3000, foxwoods.com) in Mashantucket, Conn. It's one hour from Providence, sports excellent gaming, a range of restaurants and a superb Rees Jones design next door at Lake of Isles ($139-$199; 888-475-3746, lakeofisles.com), with golf packages available.
If you want to venture into Rhode Island, make a day trip to Newport National ($65-$150; 401-848-9690, newportnational.com), which is number one on my hit list in the Ocean State.
And for a bargain round, there's Shennecossett ($32-$60; 860-445-0262, shennygolf.com), in Groton, Conn., a Donald Ross–designed beauty that offer views of Long Island Sound.
(Photo: Dick Durrance)