Category: Boca Raton

February 03, 2011

Ask Travelin' Joe: Arizona, Palm Springs, Boca Raton

Posted at 1:20 PM by Joe Passov

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Dear Joe,
I will be visiting Sun City West (Ariz.) and am looking for some courses to play within 30 miles and at a walking rate of under $40/round. With Sun City West being a retirement community, will they frown on a young 31-year-old walking in to play as a single?
Travis Olsen
Portland, Ore.

They'll frown on you, young whippersnapper, if you attempt to purchase property at your age. You still have to be 55 to do that. The good news is that golf options abound. Start with Sun City South ($35; 623-876-3015, After playing it three weeks ago, I can say unhesitatingly that Sun City South is the best value in the Phoenix metro area. Architect Tripp Davis and his associate Gary Brawley transformed a mature, though tired 48-year-old layout into a strategic gem that's pure fun. Skillfully placed bunkers have created superb risk/reward opportunities, notably on the 2nd and 12th, a pair of beguiling short par 4s; the trio of par 3s asks for nothing less than crisply struck irons and the green complexes on the back nine would be right at home on a northeastern Golden Age classic. All this for $35? That's enough for anyone to feel young again.

Another option is an old favorite, Hillcrest Golf Club ($30-$49; 623-584-1500,, a 1978 Jeff Hardin/Greg Nash design that played host to the Champions Tour in its early days. It's more Florida golf than Arizona, with wall-to-wall grass, lakes, sprawling bunkers and towering palms -- and even some elevation change, but from start to finish the fun factor and the value are first-rate.

Hey, Joe,
I'm headed out to Palm Springs, Calif. I am a bit overwhelmed by the number of places to play. I am only there for two days, so I will probably get three rounds in. Any suggestions?
Robert Rutter
Chicago, Ill.

One of golf's great buffets is the Palm Springs area, and if you're willing to pay the freight, there are indeed dozens of premium choices. Since you want to squeeze in 36 in one day, I would do La Quinta Resort's Mountain and Dunes courses ($59-$189; 760-346-7060, It helps that they're side-by-side, thus acing the convenience test, but they're also outstanding Pete Dye tests that dish out all the sharp-edge, railroad-tie banked hazards by the double bogey-ful. Notably though, the aptly named Mountain touches rocky slopes on both nines, with a stunning stretch at 14 through 16. Palm Springs is so much about the mountains and there's no public-access course with better in-your-face interactions.

As a third option, it's hard to pass up the rigors of PGA West's TPC Stadium course, but if you don't feel like getting beat up that bad, try Desert Willow's Firecliff course ($70-$185; 760-346-7060,, a fabulous Hurdzan-Fry design that features gigantic, attractive sprawls of sand and strategically deployed water hazards. The $150 mid-day rate in high season is acceptable for what the course delivers.

Dear Joe,
Do you prefer Boca Raton Municipal executive or Red Reef executive?
Long Island

I've got to admit, Travelin' Joe is stumped on this one. I played my fair share of executive courses years ago, but I haven't sampled these two pint-sized Florida spreads. From a cursory glance at the scorecards, it looks like Boca Raton Muni's executive job is the better test, but Red Reef features more eye candy. Both share a web site ( and a price tag ($16.25 for outsiders to walk nine holes, $25.75 to ride), but other than that, I'm clueless. Readers who want to weigh in the comments section below, please be my guest.

January 16, 2009

Ask Travelin Joe: Boca Raton, Denver and Phoenix

Posted at 12:21 AM by Joe Passov

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

Dear Joe,
We are planning a Florida trip mid-January for the Boca and/or Stuart area … what "value-courses" do you like in either of these locations?

Dr. Scott Roland
Via email

You're jumping into high season, of course, in both these Sunshine State hotspots, but there's still value to be had. For good Boca golf at bargain basement prices, try the Links at Boynton Beach (561-742-6500,, 20 minutes up the road.

This friendly, mature muni is dotted with pines, bunkers and a smattering of lakes -- this is Florida, after all -- but at 6,300 yards, par-71, this Devlin-Von Hagge design is playable by all. The best news is that it's $59 to ride, $39 after 1:00 p.m.

My sentimental pick is Inverrary Country Club's East course (954-733-7550, just to the south in Lauderhill. If you remember back to the 1970s, when Jack Nicklaus ruled the PGA Tour's Jackie Gleason tournament, this was the venue. This Robert Trent Jones Sr. design goes for $30-$62.

Near Stuart, head straight north about 15 minutes to Port St. Lucie to sample any -- or better yet, all -- of the three courses at PGA Village (800-800-4653, At $100 ($56 after 2:00 p.m.), both the Ryder and Wanamaker, two Tom Fazio designs, are worth the freight, but for the same price, the Pete Dye course might stand out. And frankly, it's worth the trip just to sample the practice facilities.

Hello, Joe,
I live in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada and I am looking to start the golf season in February 2009 and would like to know a few destinations within a 14-hour drive from where I live. Is it possible? I would like decent weather and reasonable green fees, and I would be driving.

Larry A.
Regina, Sask., Canada

I'm afraid your new nickname is going to be "out-of-luck Larry." Even if you averaged 80 miles per hour for 14 hours, you're not going to find any sunscreen weather. If you're desperate for a golf fix, and average 60 mph, you can get as far as Vancouver or Denver. I'd be a little nervous about Vancouver's coastal moisture at that time of year, so let's take a chance on Denver, which is surprisingly dry, with an average daytime high for the month of 50 degrees.

Best bargains are Murphy Creek ($35-$57; 303-361-7300,, a Ken Kavanaugh prairie links that played host to the 2008 U.S. Public Links Championship; Riverdale's Dunes course ($38-$51; 303-659-6700,, a terrific Pete Dye design with ponds and railroad ties; and Fossil Trace ($53-$70; 303-277-8750,, an enchanting Jim Engh creation near the Coors Brewery that darts in and out of ancient rock outcroppings.

Hey, you're a hardy Canuck. Go late in the month and pack a heavy sweater. You'll be fine.

Hi Joe,
A couple of friends and I are going to Northeast Phoenix the first week of February. Are there any nice courses that won't kill our wallets at that time of year? Also, we will be getting in there the Saturday of the FBR Open. Any suggestions on where to grab tickets?

John Spinale
Via email 

Start with Papago Golf Course ($84-$109; 602-275-8428,, a recently restored muni that offers minimal services and facilities, but a big-time set of holes, thanks to 7,333 yards of semi-parkland, semi-desert terrain, with views of the Papago Butte rock feature.

For a true desert experience -- with a few homes mixed in -- you'll find refuge in the Sanctuary at WestWorld ($111-$129; 480-502-8200,, an Audubon-certified, Randy Heckenkemper design in Scottsdale with an after-2:00 p.m. rate of $60.

Finally, check out the Champions course at the TPC Scottsdale ($91-$130.50; 480-585-4334,, the redesigned little brother to the TPC Stadium course that's now all grown up.

If you're looking to join 150,000 golf fans for the "Greatest Show on Grass," i.e., Saturday at the FBR Open ($25;, you can buy them in advance at Ticketmaster -- or else just show up at the gate. The FBR Open is never sold out -- meaning there's always room for more -- even at the best-attended golf tournament in the world. Go early to the crazy par-3 16th, however. It's completely enclosed for 2009 -- but the bleachers behind the green are first come, first-served.

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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