Category: Bahamas


January 20, 2011

Ask Travelin' Joe: Colorado, Hawaii and the Bahamas

Posted at 7:46 AM by Joe Passov

If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at [email protected].

Hi Joe,
We would like to have a week's golf in Colorado in February 2011 after skiing. Are there courses or resorts available or are they snowed out?
Barry Costa
Australia

Aug_broadmoor_600x474 G'day, mate, and let me assure you that you've got a fighting chance to play golf in February. For the second half of the month, daytime highs in Denver average 50 degrees, with surprisingly low prospects of precipitation. February is Denver's driest month, when only .49 inches of rain/snow accumulate, and there's a 69 percent chance of getting a sunny day. Courses stay open, generally with great rates, such as the city of Aurora's Murphy Creek (303-361-7300, auroragov.org/golf), a Ken Kavanaugh prairie links design that played host to the 2008 U.S. Amateur Publinks Championship. Special winter rates are $40-$50 to play all day, with cart, or $30-$40 to walk.

Even at 6,000 feet, one of our Premier Resorts Awards Platinum winner The Broadmoor (719-577-5775, broadmoor.com) keeps its courses available in February, weather permitting, including the fabled East course, a Donald Ross/Robert Trent Jones design that will host the U.S. Women's Open in July. They have special winter golf packages that include room, golf, full breakfast and range balls for prices starting at $218 per person, based on double occupancy. Keep your fingers crossed — you might just get in some golf.

Dear Joe,
My wife and I are planning a golf vacation to Hawaii. What recommendations do you have for courses and hotels? Our goal is to play all of the Top 100 courses in our life. We have 60 so far, but none in Hawaii. Which do you recommend?
Bill Young
Via email

P.S. We use your column when we plan our golf vacations very helpful

Travelin' Joe appreciates your business. I'll try and steer you in the right direction. As far as your quest goes, Hawaii's pretty easy. Each of the top three courses, Mauna Kea, the Prince Course at Princeville at Hanalei and the Plantation course at Kapalua are affiliated with top-notch resorts, so you can — and should — stay right on property.

The Big Island's Mauna Kea ($155-$250; 808-882-5400, maunakeagolf.com), a classic Robert Trent Jones creation that was recently tweaked by Trent's son, Rees, ranks No. 19 in our Top 100 Courses You Can Play, and No. 100 of all courses in the U.S. Famous for its jaw-dropping par-3 3rd, with its heroic carry over a cove of churning Pacific Ocean, the lava-lined Mauna Kea is rock-solid from start to finish.

Next up is The Prince ($125-$200, 800-826-1105, princeville.com) on Kauai, a beautiful, brutal tropical tour de force from Robert Trent Jones Jr. Critics have harped that too often the course is relentless, and its fairways play too soft, but what's undeniable is the remarkable collection of great holes scattered through its jungle-like, clifftop setting, including the downhill, question mark-shaped opening par-4 and the superior ravine-hopping par-5 15th. The Prince ranks No. 22 in our Top 100 You Can Play, and has been a frequent member of various Top 100 lists through the years.

Finally, you'll need at least one trip around Kapalua's Plantation course on Maui — but likely many more to figure out this massively wide, wildly rolling Bill Coore/Ben Crenshaw layout that hosts the PGA Tour's season-opening event every year. Ranked No. 23 in our Top 100 You Can Play, Kapalua's Plantation ($158-$268; 808-669-8044, kapaluamaui.com) is wind-addled, yet pure pleasure due to its emphasis on the ground game, and the corresponding room to play all sorts of different shots.

Ultimately, you'll need to visit three different islands to play Hawaii's three top-ranked courses, but that doesn't seem like bad duty to me.

Dear Joe,
We are going on a cruise to the Bahamas in January, and we will be stopping at Nassau and Freeport. There are two courses that Carnival will let us play, the Cable Beach course in Nassau and the Lucaya Reef course in Freeport. I have heard bad things about these courses, and for what they are asking in green fees, I'm not sure that they are a good deal. There is also a course in Key West, Key West Golf and Country Club. Not sure about that one either.
Glenn Cox
Irving, Texas

Well, Glenn, I understand you're a poker player, so hopefully you'll understand when I tell you that I wouldn't even bluff with this hand. I might even fold. If you're dying for a game, and willing to spring for one of these rounds, the Lucaya Reef course ($75-$130, 242-373-2003, ourlucaya.com) at least offers a decent, linksy, Robert Trent Jones Jr. re-design, though it's not one of his more stellar efforts. Poor conditioning has been an issue here, and I don't have any right-this-minute reports so you'd be taking a chance here.

Cable Beach ($130-$150; crystalpalacevacations.com/golf) has a nice classic pedigree, but is otherwise undistinguished, with recent complaints of spotty maintenance. Key West ($70-$95; 305-294-5232, keywestgolf.com) a Rees Jones design, has some memorable holes, notably the all-carry, par-3 8th over a mangrove swamp, but also too many ordinary holes and too high a price tag — it's the only game in town — which makes this an iffy value at best, though it's down significantly from its $140 heyday a few years back.

(Photo: The Broadmoor; John Henebry)

March 19, 2009

Ask Travelin Joe: Nassau, St. Louis, Palm Beach Gardens

Posted at 11:28 AM by Joe Passov

If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at [email protected].

Hi Joe,
We're looking for affordable golf in the Nassau area in early April. Any recommendations?

Maureen & John Peet
Goderich, Ontario, Canada

Soak up as much free sun and sand as you can, because "affordable" golf near Nassau is not an option.

Nassau/Paradise Island offers only three courses-and no bargains. The best bang for the buck is at Cable Beach Golf Club (242-677-4175, crystalpalacevacations.com), 10 minutes west of downtown Nassau. Devereux Emmet (of Congressional and Garden City fame) designed this layout in 1929, though subsequent revisions have shredded nearly any trace of his work. Nonetheless, this 6,423-yard, par-71 layout remains a sporty, interesting test, even if maintenance can be spotty. It will cost you $180 to play in the morning (the rate shrinks to $130 on May 1), but they do provide a 9-hole rate of $110 if you're just itching to play. Guests of the Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort and the Wyndham Nassau Resort, both affiliated with Crystal Palace Casino, can play for $120.

Nassau's two other courses both come with caveats. You must be a guest of the One & Only Ocean Club (888-528-7157, oneandonlyresorts.com) on Paradise Island or nearby Atlantis (888-877-7525, atlantis.com) to play Ocean Club's Tom Weiskopf course. Mind you, this is one of the priciest resorts around, but many feel it's worth the splurge, as evidenced by its Silver Medal showing in GOLF Magazine's 2008 Premier Resorts Awards. Though the Ocean Club is a flattish, low-profile layout, it's superbly groomed and enjoys gorgeous sea views. Here's a tip: Just as at Pinehurst, you may call them the morning of the day you'd like to play and if there is availability, they'll let you on for the same hotel guest rate of $250.

Finally, the island's newest course is Blue Shark (242-362-4546, bluesharkgolf.com), so it's no surprise that Greg Norman is the architect of record. It's also the island's most expensive, at $265, but with its "Shark's Teeth" triangle of holes 10-12, its distinctive "Blue Holes," (natural tubes that lead directly to the ocean) and excellent conditioning and views, this re-do of Joe Lee's old South Ocean Club could be right up your alley. At 30 minutes from downtown Nassau, it's a bit of a hike, but then you might enjoy the solitude.

Hello Joe,
Every year, I go to the Women's Final Four and try to play golf in the area. Last year, at Tampa, I was able to hit some of your suggestions: World Woods, Innisbrook, etc. Any suggestions for St. Louis this year? Also, is there a golf school you recommend in that area as well?

Ie-Chen Cheng
Palo Alto, CA

My first suggestion is to bring a sweater or two. The first week in April in St. Louis features average daytime highs of 62 degrees and lows of 42. At the very least, sleep in and play late. First choice would be Missouri Bluffs (800-939-6760, mobluffs.com; $49-$95), a pristine, hilly, forested 1995 Tom Fazio design 20 miles north of the city in St. Charles.

Next, I might cross the Mississippi River into Waterloo, Illinois, 30 minutes south of St. Louis, for Annbriar (618-939-4653, annbriar.com; $42-$72), a handsome, unspoiled, 16-year-old Michael Hurdzan design that sports a linsky front nine and a wooded back nine.

Greater St. Louis is sprinkled with a half-dozen other worthy tests, but if you're looking to broaden your travel horizons, check out the three nines at Forest Park (314-367-1337, stlouis.missouri.org; $39-$49), situated practically in the urban heart of St. Louis. Though no one will ever use this moniker, it was recently renamed Norman K. Probstein Community Golf Course and Youth Learning Center in Forest Park, after the developer who poured a bunch of money into revitalizing the facilities. The courses date to 1913, but were substantially re-worked not long ago by Stan Gentry of Hale Irwin Design Services into a real treat, with tree-lined holes that ease through a huge city park that houses the zoo, art museum and other civic treasures. Dogwood and Redbud are the Championship nines, but the very walkable Hawthorne is good fun, too. If you want to soak up an experience that's pure St. Louis, play Forest Park.

As for a golf school, go with Heartland Golf Schools (314-453-0705, heartlandgolfschools.com). They're located at Annbriar, and sessions start the last week in March. So, weather permitting, you should have a pleasant golf/basketball doubleheader this spring.

Hi Joe,
I'm gonna be in the Palm Beach Gardens, Florida area in a couple of weeks. I'm looking for some good tracks to play in the $50-$150 range. I've played PGA National, but it's too expensive unless you're staying at the resort. I wouldn't mind driving anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes out. Any suggestions?

William Q.
Via email

Two nearby tracks (both within 15 minutes) that offer terrific value are the Links at Madison Green (561-784-5225, madisongreengolf.com; $50-$70) and North Palm Beach Country Club (561-691-3420, village-npb.org; $85-$125 through March 29 and $65-$85 March 30-April 30). Madison Green is a John Sanford design that splashes water on nearly every hole and serves up all manner of pot, beach and waste bunkers, the latter composed of sand and coquina shells and peppered with plantings.

North Palm Beach is an ancient country club, dating to the 1920s, but a substantial makeover by Jack Nicklaus in 2006 made it much longer and more challenging, notably via the many new lakes and the topsy-turvy greens. Still, several memorable holes along the Intracoastal Waterway will make you forget all about your three-putts.            

Ask Travelin' Joe



 

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