Category: Arizona

January 14, 2014

Ask Travelin' Joe: Where should I play in Tucson? Savannah? Ponte Vedra Beach?

Posted at 10:03 AM by Pete Madden

By JOE PASSOV, Golf Magazine Senior Editor

La Paloma Country Club
Courtesy of La Paloma Country Club


Hello Joe, I'm headed to Tucson for a few days of Arizona sun and scenery. What courses give the most cacti for the money? -- Lana Neighbor, Ambler, Pa.

You have to stay at the Westin to play its on-site La Paloma Country Club ($59-$179; 520-742-6000,, but its three early Jack Nicklaus nines are well worth it. Saguaro cacti frame the fairways, while mountain vistas highlight this target-style spread. In nearby Marana, another Jack Nicklaus Signature design, the Golf Club at Dove Mountain ($79-$199; 520-572-3500,, is blanketed with exotic desert flora. The WGC–Accenture Match Play is played on the Saguaro/Tortolita combo, though Jack's favorite of the three nines is Wild Burro. And Ventana Canyon's Mountain and Canyon courses ($59-$169; 520-577-1400, embrace every manner of thorny plant, notably on the Mountain's par-3 third.

The Club at Savannah Harbor
The Club at Savannah Harbor / Dick Durrance


Dear Joe, I'm heading to Savannah, Georgia. Know of any gems off the beaten path? -- Sam R. Blair, via e-mail

Sam, maybe it's the shrimp and grits talking, but I think Savannah is one of the most charming cities in the U.S.—and great for golf. Start with The Club at Savannah Harbor ($40-$88; 912-201-2240,, a dramatic Bob Cupp/Sam Snead design that's hosted the Champions Tour's Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf for the last 11 years. Most memorable is the 447-yard, par-4 sixth, with its green edged by marsh and backdropped by the Talmadge Bridge. The area's top value? A wooded Rees Jones design called Southbridge ($25-$50; 912-651-5455,, which turns 25 this year. Meanwhile, the award for easiest access goes to bargain-priced Crosswinds ($34-$53; 912-966-1909,, renowned for its reachable yet watery par-5 closer, and for the club's location five minutes from the airport.

Streamsong Resort
Streamsong Resort / Larry Lambrecht


Hey Joe, Are there any quality links-style courses to play here in Florida? -- Bill Jervis, Tampa, Fla.

That's the easiest question I've heard in eons. Streamsong Resort ($110-$235; 863-428-1000, is less than 90 minutes from Tampa and serves up two superior firm-and-fast, dune-splashed tracks that demand thoughtful shotmaking, with an emphasis on the ground game. Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw's Red is slightly more dramatic than Tom Doak's Blue, though I'm partial to the Blue for how seamlessly it hews to the terrain, and for stunners such as the all-carry par-3 seventh and the drivable par-4 13th. With the mid-January debut of the 216-room Lodge at Streamsong, there's no better time to go.

The Word Golf Village
Courtesy of The Word Golf Village


Travelin' Man, I'm playing the Stadium and Valley courses at TPC Sawgrass. Anywhere else I should tee it up in the Ponte Vedra Beach area? -- Mike Smith, via e-mail

Since you don't scrimp, Mike, I'll steer you to the region's trophy tracks. For a fun 36 holes, drive 45 minutes south to St. Augustine. The World Golf Village (904-201-3609, has two courses: King & Bear ($79-$169) is the only Arnold Palmer–Jack Nicklaus collaboration in existence, and the Slammer & Squire ($59-$129) is a wonderful Bobby Weed creation, with help from Sam Snead and Gene Sarazen. King & Bear's back nine winds through loblolly pines and ancient oaks, while Slammer & Squire sports lagoons, wetlands and a wet-and-wild par-4 closer. My favorite combo of golf and lodging in the area is the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club and its Ocean course ($75-$132.50; 888-839-9145,, a wonderfully renovated treat that trots out cross bunkers, ocean breezes and an island green dating to the 1920s.

Our traveling correspondent has been where you're going. Heading out of town on vacation? Business trip? Travelin' Joe can suggest the best places for you to tee it up. If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at

For more news that golfers everywhere are talking about, follow @si_golf on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube video channel.

November 20, 2013

Best Trips: Sewailo Golf Club in Tucson, Ariz.

Posted at 1:06 PM by Pete Madden

By JOE PASSOV, Golf Magazine Senior Editor

Sewailo Golf Club
Credit: D Squared Productions


It's been four long years since a new course opened in golf-crazy Arizona. As it turns out, good things are worth waiting for. Sewailo Golf Club was built as an amenity for the Casino del Sol Resort in Tucson. In the Native American language of Yaqui, "sewailo" translates to "flower world," and this Ty Butler-Notah Begay co-design lives up to that name.

If you're looking for a cactus-lined, target-style track, you won't find it here; instead, you'll play through a kaleidoscope of year-round floral displays. White and pink roses, yellow brittlebush and purple sage from a stunning palette, while cottonwood, pine and willow trees (which are important in Pascua Yaqui tribal ceremonies) dot the course.

Still, pretty colors won't entirely ease the menace of the seven elegant yet daunting lakes and interlocking streams that dominate the layout, influencing play on half the holes. All that water makes its presence felt, most memorably on a trio of handsome but stern tests: the 145-yard par-3 third, the 620-yard, double-dogleg par-5 10th and the 390-yard par-4 18th.

Happily, it's not all punishment. Sewailo sets itself apart from its sandy competitors in town with roomy fairways and bentgrass greens, as well as a casino and mountain backdrop. Slated for a mid-December opening, Sewailo is sure to seduce parched desert-dwellers eager for a touch of the tropics.

7,282 yards, par-72; Green fees: $69-$149; (855) 765-7289;

For more news that golfers everywhere are talking about, follow @si_golf on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube video channel.

November 03, 2013

Ask Travelin' Joe: From Ragin' Cajuns to Mickey Mouse

Posted at 12:40 PM by Pete Madden

By JOE PASSOV, Golf Magazine Senior Editor

Gray Plantation
Gray Plantation, Credit: Aidan Bradley


Dear Joe: I'll be taking a trip to Lake Charles, La., to visit family. I plan on playing at least one day while there. What area courses would you recommend? -- Mike Haig, Chicago, Ill.

I've got two top choices for you in Cajun country, one of my favorite places to play in the USA. First, a value-favorite: Gray Plantation ($35-$59; 337-562-1663, is a handsome, well-treed track that features water, water everywhere. Bring an extra sleeve or two; you can lose ammo on 12 holes, including the tough par-3 sixth, which demands a shot over the Calcasieu Ship Channel to a peninsula green. If you want to roll the dice after rolling the rock, try Tom Fazio's Contraband Bayou at nearby L'Auberge Casino Resort ($39-$109; 337-395-7220, This 7,077-yard par 71 features superb Bermuda greens, Fazio's striking bunkers and eight lakes throughout the layout.

Bulle Rock
Bulle Rock, Credit: Evan Schiller


Hi Joe: I'll be in Annapolis for one day, flying into Baltimore, with time for a quick round. I prefer a quality layout with great conditioning. Where should I play? -- Ed Cadenas, via e-mail

Ed, cracking blue crabs is my first priority when I'm down Chesapeake way, with golf being a (very) close second. Bulle Rock ($79-$130; 888-285-5375, in Havre de Grace is my first choice. True, it's an hour north of the airport, but with a ranking of No. 41 on our 2012-'13 Top 100 Courses You Can Play list, it's worth the journey. Bulle is a true bully (and it's pronounced that way, too). This danger-laden Pete Dye stunner has hosted the LPGA Championship five times, with Annika Sorenstam, Se Ri Pak and Suzann Pettersen among those hoisting the trophy. Conditioning? It's kept in tournament shape all year round. If you prefer something closer to Baltimore, try Waverly Woods ($54-$84; 410-313-9182, an Arthur Hills course just a 20-minute drive from Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

Hi Joe: While my kids are at Disney World, I have time for some peace and quiet on the course. I've already played Grand Cypress, a great pick. What's next? -- Luis M. Rivera, via e-mail

I don't blame you for resisting the siren call of the Mouse -- there's plenty of golf to play. I agree with Tiger, who once called the greens at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club Orlando, Grande Lakes ($60-$180; 407-393-4900, some of the best he's ever putted. Although this Greg Norman design is runway wide and flat, it's also truly tranquil, offering just the serenity you're seeking. You might also consider Rees Jones's Waldorf Astoria Golf Club ($50-$170; 407-597-3780, Hewn from pristine woodlands, it's only about three miles from Disney and offers strategic resort golf at its best. Right at the park, consider Disney's Magnolia Course ($104-$165; 407-939-4653, Don't let the hokey, mouse-ear-shaped bunker fool you—for 40 years, this track was tough enough to be a PGA Tour stop. At 7,500 yards, it's hardly child's play.

Sedona Golf Resort
Sedona Golf Resort, Credit: Evan Schiller


Dear Joe: I'm planning a trip to Scottsdale this November, but lots of courses will be overseeding. Any way around that? -- Scott Gentry, Tulsa, Okla.

If they're overseeding, head north over the hills to Sedona. The town has quaint charms that dear old Scottsdale can't match, and at 4,500 feet of elevation, there's no need to overseed; the courses have cool-season grasses. Both Sedona Golf Resort ($69-$99; 928-284-9355, and Oakcreek ($79-$99; 928-284-1660, will dazzle you with red-rock landscapes. Seven Canyons ($100-$150; 928-203-2000, is beautiful, too, but it's only open to guests of Enchantment Resort.

Our traveling correspondent has been where you're going. Heading out of town on vacation? Business trip? Travelin' Joe can suggest the best places for you to tee it up. If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at

For more news that golfers everywhere are talking about, follow @si_golf on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube video channel.

April 20, 2013

Budget Breaks: Get your golf year going at one of these two great escapes

Posted at 11:24 AM by Joe Passov

Eagle-mountainSAVE $105
Inn at Eagle Mountain
Fountain Hills, Ariz.

If cactus-covered slopes and wild terrain appeal to you this spring, the Round and a Room Golf Package at Eagle Mountain, east of Scottsdale, is a great way to kick off your season. Included is one night's lodging, a round at the Scott Miller—designed Eagle Mountain Golf Club, rental clubs, and a $10 breakfast coupon.

May rates start at $149 per person, based on double occupancy. 800-992-8083,

SAVE $175
La Costa Resort and Spa
Carlsbad, Calif.

Perfect weather and suburban San Diego go hand-in-glove, all the better to take advantage of La Costa's Gold Medal Golf Package. The deal offers lodging at Southern California's only Gold Medal winner in our Premier Resorts Awards, unlimited golf on two PGA Tour courses, breakfast for two at Legends Bistro, club storage and 15 percent off at the pro shop.

May rates start at $469 per room, per night, based on double occupancy. 800-854-5000,

(Photo: Courtesy of Inn at Eagle Mountain)

March 23, 2013

Premier Resort Close-Up: Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

Posted at 12:01 PM by Joe Passov

Home to the raucous Waste Management Phoenix Open, the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess is a soothing oasis the rest of the year, with flexibility its strongest suit. Large enough to accommodate conventioneers, it has all the amenities a family could want, with North Scottsdale's fine shopping nearby.

Of course, legendary golf offerings are what elevate this property to Silver Medal status, making it great for buddy trips, too. The Fairmont is so close to the action on the par-3 4th and par-4 5th at TPC Scottsdale's Stadium course that the holes could practically get splashed by the resort's swimming complex.

The biggest splash of all, though, is reserved for the Stadium's closing stretch, which includes the rowdiest hole in golf. The par-3 16th is sandwiched between two of the PGA Tour's top risk/reward holes—the island green par-5 15th and the drivable par-4 17th.

Toss in the resort's solid second track (the Champions), the fabled Willow Stream spa, and a slew of outstanding restaurants — notably Arizona's top-rated Mexican fare at La Hacienda — and you can have a Phoenix Open–size celebration (well, almost) during your stay.

480-585-4848,, April rates from $360.

(Photo: Evan Schiller)

February 05, 2013

Worth Your Money: Grayhawk Golf Club, the Southwest's coolest course

Posted at 5:06 PM by
Sure, you'd love to while away a week in Pebble Beach or St. Andrews, but maybe it's not in your budget. These days you might be looking for destinations that make sense for both your game and your wallet. That in mind, we've started a weekly feature on called "Worth Your Money," where Golf Magazine's travel editors recommend a destination that combines great golf and great value. This week, we check out Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz. 


The eighth hole at the Raptor Course at Grayhawk Golf Club.

More PGA Tour pros may hang out at ultra-private Whisper Rock, but Grayhawk remains the coolest option for visiting amateurs in Scottsdale, both for the golf and atmosphere. Rock music still drifts out onto the driving range from speakers inside fake boulders, and multiple on-site food venues will fill you up quickly. Grayhawk’s Talon course, ranked seventh in Golf Magazine’s Best Public Courses in Arizona, is the older (by a year) layout and has the more unique par 3s, while the Raptor course, designed by Tom Fazio, hosted a PGA Tour event from 2007-09. Which one to play? Both. Especially since booking 36 holes at a time can save you up to $130 from now until the end of March., 480-502-1800


Fairmont Scottsdale Princess: This sprawling resort next door to TPC Scottsdale has a full range of first-class amenities, from dining (La Hacienda or Bourbon Steak) and nightlife (the Plaza Bar) to relaxation (Willow Stream Spa). Between Feb. 1 and April 30, you can book the “25th Anniversary Summer Early Special” and receive a $125 discount room rate and $25 food/beverage credit for stays between Memorial Day Monday through Labor Day Monday (special rate code is 2U8EBR). $169-$499,, 480-585-4848

Westin Kierland Resort & Spa: A short walk outside the back door of this 12-story resort are 27 holes; air-cooling misters in the carts and on the range; and an expansive practice facility, featuring the academy of Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Mike LaBauve. The resort’s Unlimited Golf package for two (including accommodations) costs $449 per night through March 31; $349 April 1 - May 23; and $179 May 24 – Sept. 9., 480-624-1000.


Isabella’s: With views of the 10th and 18th holes on Grayhawk’s Talon Course (and the adjacent practice area), this casual dining spot opened last fall. Perfect spot for post-round drink, plus an Italian-themed menu. 480-502-3100,

Brat Haus: Located on the southern edge of Old Town Scottsdale, this newcomer is for meat lovers who like to wash down tasty brats, burgers and Belgian fries with craft beers in an outdoor setting. 480-947-4006,

January 05, 2013

Course Spy: TPC Scottsdale (Stadium)

Posted at 9:24 PM by

TPC Scottsdale (Stadium)

Scottsdale, Ariz.
7,216 yards, par 71
Green fees: $63-$299

While the front is forgettable, the back nine is a blast, with that wonderful 3-hole finish.

As expected for a TPC operation, the service was excellent, from bag drop to exit. When a staffer noticed our spy carrying a shirt and slacks on a hanger, our man was escorted to the locker room — and given Bo Van Pelt's locker! Talk about being treated like a pro.

Pace of Play
Paired with a deliberate, if self-deprecating, threesome from Texas who call themselves "The Traveling Grinders," our forecaddie helped us keep our round to four hours, 30 minutes. Not too shabby for a challenging, high-end course in prime season.

While the front nine is less than memorable, the back is a blast, with lots of variety, that wonderful three-hole finish, and mountain views. And conditions were so good, they could have held the Waste Management Phoenix Open that very day.

Given the course's high profile as a Tour host, along with the exceptional service and fine conditions, our $200 fee was definitely worth the money. Just one 19th hole quibble: $15 for a glass of Sauvignon Blanc? You may want to slip your flask into your bag.

If you can spare a couple of Benjamins — or have an expense account — the Stadium course is a memorable round on an iconic Tour track. A special shout-out to our looper, who whooped it up on the par-3 16th, giving us the full Phoenix Open experience.

(Photo: Evan Schiller)

Beautiful and blissful, We-Ko-Pa has matured into a modern classic

Posted at 9:04 PM by Joe Passov

Choosing one course above the rest in the winter desert haven of Phoenix/Scottsdale is harder than a flop shot off hardpan, but We-Ko-Pa's Saguaro course fits the bill.

Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw's effort debuted in December 2006 to instant acclaim. As with its 11-year-old sibling, the Scott Miller–designed Cholla course, Saguaro's sloping fairways feature blissful isolation, framed by stubby desert trees, namesake cacti and thorny underbrush. It's the rare modern desert course that's designed to be walked, and one where "run-up" approaches succeed, which makes for a splendid day for fans of traditional golf.

It's also a strategic treat that demands superior course management, even as it delivers some of the widest fairways in the desert. Wallet watchers, take note: In February and March, if you book eight to 90 days out, it's $195, compared with up to $100 more for other trophy tracks in the area. Playing 36 will run you $300. That's not cheap, but for a dazzling course with an inspiring Coore/Crenshaw design, it's the hottest deal under the sun.

(Photo: Lonna Tucker)

May 16, 2012

Arizona's spectacular, once-private Seven Canyons is open to the masses

Posted at 9:38 AM by Joe Passov

SevenSeven Canyons
Sedona, Ariz.
6,746 yards, par 70
Green fees: $50-$125

Behold, a victory for the 99 percent. Seven Canyons drew raves when it debuted in 2002. The pairing of Tom Weiskopf's deft design skills with the high-desert, red-rock canvas of Sedona, Arizona, resulted in a palette of incomparable golf.

But for most of its existence the stunning backdrops were reserved for the fortunate few, with memberships costing up to $175,000. The economy, however, has forced several private courses to open their doors to more golfers and more revenue, and you can now play Weiskopf's dazzling design for as little as $50.

It's a steal. Located two hours north of Phoenix, Seven Canyons is tightly packed into a small parcel at 4,600 feet, amid 300 feet of elevation change. As such, the emphasis is on shotmaking. Any frustration from the occasional layup is mitigated by artfully placed bunkers, imaginative green complexes, and the Coconino National Forest's visual splendor.

Of the four par 3's, the 175-yard fourth crystallizes the course's virtues the best: elevation changes (a three-story drop), bold bunkering, fair-but-fiendish greens and a panorama of jagged red mesas and spires. For fans of shotmaking and majestic scenery, Seven Canyons is a perfect 10.

(Photo: George Fuller)

April 12, 2012

Ask Travelin' Joe: Scottsdale, Myrtle Beach, Puerto Rico and Pine Needles

Posted at 3:27 PM by Joe Passov


If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at

Dear Joe,
Seven of us are headed to Scottsdale in May to play all of the top courses—Troon North, TPC, Grayhawk, Boulders and We-Ko-Pa. We've got room for one more course. Any suggestions?
Ray Talley, Medford, Ore.

My hometown is chockablock with second-tier tracks that would be trophy courses most anywhere else. It's tough to pick one, so here are three. Not far from We-Ko-Pa is SunRidge Canyon ($60-$170; 480-837-5100, in Fountain Hills, which, after a few years of neglect, is on the mend with new ownership. This layout boasts a back nine as rugged and scenic as any in the Valley of the Sun, culminating with a final stretch of challenging holes nicknamed "The Wicked Six."

Gold Canyon's Dinosaur Mountain ($45-$189, 480-982-9090, is marred by too many houses but redeemed by dramatic holes and views of the Superstition Mountains.

A half hour south of the airport is Southern Dunes ($25-$89; 480-367-8949, in Maricopa. Formerly a private men's club (members included Mark Calcavecchia and Steve Jones), this Schmidt-Curley design in a pristine desert setting has clever bunkering, sizable greens and nary a weak hole.

Dear Joe, I have a dilemma! Sixteen of us are going to Myrtle Beach, where I haven't been in 25 years. We're looking at two packages: Stay at the Legends and play all five courses (Heathland, Moorland, Parkland, Heritage and Oyster Bay), or stay at True Blue and play there, Grand Dunes, Man O' War, Caledonia and TPC Myrtle Beach. Your thoughts?
Stuart Ryan, via e-mail

This is a tough call. You've got a solid lineup of courses at the Legends (800-299-6187, I've played and enjoyed them all. I've also downed a few pints at the resort's charming Ailsa Pub, and even practiced after-hours on its 30-acre lighted range.

Now, if your crew is more into scenery and solitude, the True Blue villas (866-954-8311,, down south on Pawleys Island, is a better bet; plus, the region holds its own for restaurants. However, since you haven't been on the Grand Strand since Reagan was in the White House, play Caledonia. For its marriage of thinking-man's challenge and Low-country allure, Caledonia is my must-play course in Myrtle Beach.

Hi Joe,
My husband and I have been to Jamaica, the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic for golf vacations. My brother-in-law just returned from Puerto Rico and raved about it. Where does Puerto Rico rate with you compared to the others?

Sue Thompson, Bay Village, Ohio

Puerto Rico's golf scene has made huge strides in the past two years. Start with the new lodging component and stunning cliff-top design at Royal Isabela ($150-$250; 787-934-5648,, which we featured last month.

Next on your list should be eco-minded Bahia Beach ($225-$275; 866-529-3996,, recently redesigned by Robert Trent Jones II, where a superb St. Regis hotel opened in December 2010.

Jones's newest venture on the island is a sympathetic restoration of the East course at Dorado Beach ($185-$250; 787-626-1001,, one of his father's true classics. Simply unforgettable are the risk/reward options and Atlantic Ocean views at the Z-shaped, par-5 4th. Lodging is lacking at Dorado right now, but a Ritz-Carlton Reserve boutique hotel is slated to debut late this year.

With a handful of other strong courses (many at bargain rates), a visit to El Yunque Rainforest, and the fine dining to be had in Old San Juan—and no passport needed—you've got a destination that's fast becoming a promised land for golf lovers.

Dear Joe,
My wife and I want to get away to the Southeast this spring for a week's golf vacation, and we want to get her lessons, too. What do you recommend?
Kent Cummings, Nutley, N.J.

Come spring, I'm partial to the Sandhills of North Carolina. With golf lore at just about every inter-section, Pinehurst simply rules. The iconic Pinehurst Resort (855-235-8507, offers fine golf instruction and the chance to tangle with the newly restored No. 2.

Yet for your specific needs, I'd pick Pine Needles Resort, next door in Southern Pines (May package rates from $270 and 5-day "Golfari" instruction packages from $2,545; 800-747-7272, With two Donald Ross courses and one of America's greatest learning programs for women, Pine Needles will get your wife's game razor-sharp in short order.

(Credit: Becky McBride/Pronghorn Golf Club)

Ask Travelin' Joe

Our traveling correspondent has been where you're going. Heading out of town on vacation? Business trip? Travelin' Joe can suggest the best places for you to tee it up. If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at


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