Category: Cabo San Lucas

March 26, 2010

Ask Travelin' Joe: Cabo San Lucas, Pinehurst and Tucson

Posted at 10:28 AM by Joe Passov

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

Hi Joe,
Do you know of any decent quality courses in Cabo at an affordable rate?

Jeff Gilman
Via email

I get asked this question as much as any in my mailbag and every couple of years, I respond the same way: Sorry, the answer is no. They just don't exist. As superb a golf destination as Los Cabos is, its glaring weakness is that it lacks mid-priced and bargain/entry-level courses where one can sample the game without taking out a second mortgage.

I always start with the course formerly known as the San Jose del Cabo Municipal, which is now on its fourth name. It's a nine-holer that's presently called Punta Sur and it's usually under $100 for 18 holes, but I can't recommend it. It's barely 3,000 yards from the tips, it affords just one view of the Sea of Cortez — and that's right from the first tee — and it's practically suffocated by condos.

Better you should spend the extra pesos and play Puerto Los Cabos ($110-$195; 877-795-8727, where the afternoon rate in high season is $140. Intended to be 36 holes, it's 18 for now, with the front nine by Greg Norman and the back nine by Jack Nicklaus. With its rolling desert setting, a fistful of holes that edge of the Sea of Cortez and a couple of the most stunning par-3s in Mexico, Puerto Los Cabos is currently the region's best value.

Hello Joe,
I'm planning a golf trip for 10-20 players in mid-April. We're from Florida and want a location including at least one "famous" course. The best option so far is Pinehurst, but I'm concerned about the weather. TPC Sawgrass Stadium is closed and Harbour Town is being played the same weekend. What do you think?

Roy Katzin
Via email

You'll have a great buddies trip to Pinehurst in mid-April. I've done the same dates four times, never been rained on, mostly played in shirtsleeves and basked in the "Springtime in the South" aura that pervades, thanks to the profusion of dogwoods in bloom. The average daytime high for the dates you're thinking of is 72 degrees.

Make no mistake, there are plenty of quality options in and around the Pinehurst area, but if you're gunning for that special trophy course, such as Pinehurst No. 2, you'd best stay at the Pinehurst Resort (800-487-4653, Several lodging and package choices awaits, but one that might be a good fit for your group is the Buddy Trip of a Lifetime Package.

Included is three days/two nights, Villa accommodations (four guest rooms connected to a central gathering parlor), wet bar stocked with beverages of your choice, plus snacks, for your stay, unlimited golf, a round on No. 2 with single caddies who wear your name on their bib, breakfast and dinner daily, plus gifts, spa access, photos, tips from a Pinehurst pro and more.

OK, it comes with a cost: $2,300 per person based on double occupancy. But this is pretty close to the ultimate in pampering, camaraderie and a special day on No. 2.

Dear Joe,
Four of us from Denver did 36 a day for three days last March at We-Ko-Pa courses and Eagle Mountain. Back to that area again, or should we give Tucson a try? I read your reviews about the Phoenix area but I'm wondering which courses you like in Tucson?

Jeff Lindquist
Denver, Colorado

Travelin' Joe is partial to Phoenix, Scottsdale and the Valley of the Sun — after all, I live here — but variety is the spice of golf, so by all means give Tucson at least one go-round. If you're into courses such as those you've listed above, then we're talking high-end, very scenic tracks, of which Tucson has plenty.

The hot course in town these days is the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain ($105-$195; 520-572-3500,, the Jack Nicklaus-designed 27-holer that hosts the WGC-Accenture Match Play. Lush desert flora frames every fairway and the mountain vistas are superb. Bring your sand game and a putting touch, because the bunkers are huge and deep and the greens, even after a Nicklaus renovation right after the 2009 event, remain vexing to even the game's best.

Personal favorites include both the Mountain and Canyon courses at Ventana Canyon ($100-$175, 520-577-1400, a pair of mid-1980s Tom Fazio gems and La Paloma Country Club's ($85-$205; 520-742-6000, three nines, though you've got to stay at the adjacent Westin to get aboard.

December 18, 2008

Ask Travelin' Joe: Cabo San Lucas, Hilton Head and Fresno

Posted at 10:32 AM by Joe Passov

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

Dear Joe,
My wife and I are going to Cabo San Lucas this winter and I'm looking for a course to sneak out on while she's getting spa treatments. Any courses you can recommend that are worth playing but won't break the bank?

E.J. Costello, via email

Finding value-priced courses in Mexico's high-end Los Cabos area is like trying to find an honest politician -- they do exist, but they're not plentiful. In Cabo there are few bargains, but now at least there's a new quality option: Club Campestre San Jose ($160-$220; 01152-624-1425327, This Nicklaus Design product is located between the airport and the main resort area. Afternoon rates start at $160. Fees drop if you arrange to play multiple rounds. Sea of Cortez views are free.

Dear Joe,
I am going to Hilton Head Island and I am on a tight budget. What courses do you recommend for a 16 to 18 handicap?

Ed Meyer, via email

My value pick is Hilton Head National ($58-$64; 843-842-5900,, an engaging 27-holer that successfully merges mounds and marshland. For a more dramatic Lowcountry romp, try Old South ($55-$70; 843-785-5353,, but expect to surrender a few extra spheres to this salt marsh -- and lagoon -- laced track.

What's New This Month?
Ridge Creek Dinuba Golf Club
Dinuba, CA
Green fees: $51-$75
For tee times call 877-465-3891 or visit

Fresno is the raisin capital of the U.S., so it's no surprise that the newest wrinkle to its golf scene is pretty sweet. Located 30 miles south of downtown in the heart of the Central Valley, Ridge Creek Dinuba Golf Club offers a taste of English heathland. From flat, boring terrain architect John Fought crafted a vast, gently rippling layout with roomy fairways and gigantic, subtly contoured greens. Given the ever-present winds, Fought provided ample space for any class of golfer to blast away with his driver and still find his ball. Admittedly, that ball might be resting in one of the many steep-lipped bunkers scattered across the layout, but at least it's playable.

The strategic bunkering constitutes much of the challenge and variety in the course, but it's pretty clear you're in for a fun day when you compare the daunting yardage from the tips (7,482 yards) with the gentle slope rating (just 126). With a back nine that dishes out two par-4s checking in at 500 yards and a par-5 that runs 648 yards, your driver is sure to get a workout. But there's something to be said for a course that allows the rest of us to bash away with impunity and still walk off No. 18 smiling.

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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