Category: Arkansas

May 19, 2011

Ask Travelin' Joe: Kentucky, Orange County, Tulsa and Fayetteville

Posted at 3:58 PM by Joe Passov

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Dear Joe,
I’m planning on taking a tour of the bourbon distillers in Lexington, Ky., this spring. I thought I would pack the clubs and get a round in between the taste testing. Any recommendations for golf packages in the area? It looks like Marriott has a nice track?
Thomas F. Barnish
Via email

Travelin’ Joe has enjoyed the Kentucky bourbon sipping experience as well, though I recommend you do it after golf. Indeed, the Griffin Gate Marriott Resort (859-231-5100, serves up a quality package, with unlimited golf, cart, lodging and breakfast at prices starting at $264. Golf takes place over an early Rees Jones solo design ($60-$75), carved from rolling bluegrass country. That said, it’s far from the best public-access golf in town.

Your best bet is Old Silo ($59; 859-498-4697,, a sturdy Graham Marsh design 30 minutes east of Lexington that sports 98 bunkers, hilly terrain and a set of wildly undulating greens.

Next up is Kearney Hill Golf Links ($26-$46; 859-253-1981,, s superb—and superbly cheap—Pete and P.B. Dye collaboration that tumbles over rumpled, links-like terrain, amid mounds, moguls, grass bunkers and the rest of the Dye family’s signature design tricks. Future Players Championship winner Tim Clark captured the 1997 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship here.

Hi Joe,
I’m attending a wedding out in Orange County, Calif., during May 2011. I have never been there before. Any courses with ocean views? I don’t want to break the bank.
Andrew Ong
Via email

Pelican Hill ($250-$270) and Monarch Beach ($145-$195) are likely going to be wallet busters for you. You might try San Clemente Municipal ($33-$55; 949-361-8384, which doesn’t have any ocean holes in play, but is a pleasant walk and a great value, with views, albeit somewhat distant views, of the Pacific from several holes. This mature Billy Bell design dates to 1930, and will likely play pretty slow due to its popularity, so tee off early enough to get to the best ocean-view holes, 15 and 16.

Dear Joe,
My wife and I are planning a week-long trip to Tulsa, Okla., and Fayetteville, Ark., in May so that I can say I’ve visited all fifty states in my lifetime. She does not golf, but always encourages me to play two or three times while we’re on vacation. Are there any good public courses in those two cities that you recommend?
Nilo Mia
San Francisco, Calif.

Travelin’ Joe only needs Arkansas to complete his 50 as well—as in playing golf in all 50 states—so you might beat me to it. In Fayetteville, check out Stonebridge Meadows ($39-$55; 479-571-3673,, a Randy Heckenkemper design near the University of Arkansas, where the low-handicap Razorbacks golf team members are tested by watery par-3s, densely wooded risk/reward par-5s and some of the fastest greens around.

Most of Tulsa’s good tracks are private, such as Southern Hills and The Patriot, but another Heckenkemper creation, Forest Ridge ($60-$70; 918-357-2443, will work perfectly. Its 141 slope and 76.0 rating from the 7,083-yard Tournament tees is testament to its challenge. A recent facelift has Forest Ridge sporting all new greens and a new five-acre lake at the 15th. Twilight rates start at $38.

June 11, 2009

Ask Travelin Joe: The Ozarks, Los Angeles and Montreal

Posted at 11:58 AM by Joe Passov

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

Dear Joe,
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?

Loyce Smith
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,, 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,, 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, in Fayetteville, a testing Randy Heckenkemper creation near the University of Arkansas that might be the region's top value.

Continue reading "Ask Travelin Joe: The Ozarks, Los Angeles and Montreal" »

May 01, 2009

Ask Travelin Joe: Flagstaff, Arkansas and Toronto

Posted at 2:08 PM by Joe Passov

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

Hello, Joe,
I'm going to Flagstaff, Arizona this week. Can you give me any recommended courses? I don't have any club affiliations.

John G.
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Not many folks beyond the state lines realize that in a little more than two hours up Interstate 17, you can leave the triple digit temperatures of Phoenix behind for the 75-degree days, 80-foot-tall Ponderosa pines and 7,000-foot elevation of Flagstaff. Unfortunately, the great golf in the area is confined to private clubs, notably at 36-hole Forest Highlands, whose Canyon course is often ranked as Arizona's best and at Pine Canyon, one of my favorite golf communities in the nation.

Basically, you've got three choices for public access golf. First -- and closest -- is Continental Country Club (928-527-7999,; $43-$69). Formerly known as Elden Hills, it's reverted back to an earlier name and at 15 minutes from virtually anywhere in Flagstaff, it's all about convenience and value. Expect play to be slow, with lots of once-every-six-months kinds of players swinging away on vacation, but the waiting isn't all bad. Roughly half the holes are of your basic meadow/pasture variety, with ill-defined landing areas and water hazards, but the other half are pure pleasure, with a handful framed perfectly by pines and backdropped by the San Francisco Peaks.

Another option is to drive 45 scenic minutes south and tee it up at Sedona Golf Resort in Sedona (877-733-6630,; $69-$105). It's lower in elevation, 10-20 degrees warmer and features sagebrush edging the holes, rather than pines, but the stupendous red rock scenery, memorably at the 210-yard, par-3 10th, makes it worth the journey. Gary Panks, who authored Twin Warriors near Albuquerque, did Sedona as well.

Finally, you might try a cool time warp 30 miles due west of Flagstaff at Elephant Rocks in Williams (928-635-4935,; $29-$54). Panks created nine new, tough, meadowy holes here in 1999, but the old stone clubhouse and the lay-of-the-land, pine-lined holes (1-5 and 15-18) date to the 1920s.

Continue reading "Ask Travelin Joe: Flagstaff, Arkansas and Toronto" »

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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