Category: Georgia

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

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October 16, 2012

Premier Resort Close-Up: Sea Island Resort

Posted at 3:21 PM by Joe Passov

Seaisland_2For more than 80 years, luxury lodging in the Lowcountry has meant Sea Island. So how do you improve on a property that's a regular fixture among our top 5 resorts? Simple. Add a popular PGA Tour event to the mix.

In late October, Sea Island resident and Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III hosts the third annual McGladrey Classic, played over Sea Island's Seaside course. The greatest incentive for making the cut at the McGladrey is getting to spend the weekend at Sea Island.

The destination garnered Platinum Medal honors in our 2012 Premier Resorts Awards for many reasons. Naturally, it starts with the three courses at nearby Sea Island Golf Club. Seaside sports classic 1929 Colt-Alison holes that were melded in 1999 into an up-to-date coastal risk-reward masterpiece by Tom Fazio.

Walter Travis, Dick Wilson and Rees Jones contributed to the Plantation, while the Love brothers, Davis and Mark, earn high marks for the redesign they did on the Retreat course.

Still, what elevates Sea Island into rarified air are the superior service and restaurants, the Cloister and Lodge accommodations, a world-class spa and a stunning beach right outside the front door.

It's no wonder that Sea Island landed the No. 1 position for lodging in our recent rankings. It could keep the top spot for years to come.

November rates from $395. 888-732-4752,

(Photo: Courtesy of Sea Island Resort)

January 20, 2012

Ask Travelin' Joe: Savannah and Scottsdale for couples

Posted at 3:22 PM by Joe Passov

TroonDear Joe,
Headed to Savannah for a business trip and am looking to stay and play for a couple of additional days in early February. Any favorites for me to keep in mind?
Drew C.
Calgary, Alberta, Canada

I’ll draw it up for you, Drew. It’s worth the extra cash to spring for the Unlimited Golf Package at the Westin Savannah Harbor (912-201-2000, For $319, you can stay one night and play all the golf you want at the resort’s Club at Savannah Harbor ($55-$95; 912-201-2240,, a 1999 Bob Cupp/Sam Snead design superbly managed by Troon Golf.

You also can play the course a la carte, where beguiling green contouring and strategically deployed wetlands will make you think from start to finish. Though a pretty flat track, it’s spiced with several memorable holes, such as the 447-yard, par-4 sixth, which captivates the senior set during the Champions Tour’s annual Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf, due partly to its away-sloping green at the edge of the marsh and its jaw-dropping Talmadge Bridge backdrop. The skinny, drive-and-pitch par-4 14th, properly named Alligator Alley, is another keeper.

While I may be fond of the course, I’m absolutely smitten with the hotel. Take a Savannah River-view room, feast on the she-crab soup and grouper in the Aqua Star restaurant, relax in the aptly named Heavenly Spa and catch the free river ferry into town—you can thank me later, as Larry King used to say.

The 23-year-old Southbridge ($30-$50; 912-651-5455,, a wooded, watery Rees Jones design, is the region’s best bargain, but I’m also partial to Crosswinds ($23.50-$51.50; 912-966-0674, for its playability and its accessible location five minutes from the Savannah Airport.

Hi Joe,
We will be in Scottsdale in January. I am looking for some help with course selection. For a few days of the week, both my wife and I will play together, and we are looking for some nice but affordable places to play. My wife is still fairly new in golf: Target golf is not the most desirable play for her. The last few days of the week, I would like to play some of the best courses in the region. I will be playing as a single on Friday and Saturday. What would you say are the most memorable ones to try out?
Jan Jaap Bijlsma
Vancouver, B.C., Canada

Though I’m not a certified marriage counselor, I’ll advise on a course of courses that will keep you both happy. On the west side of town, you and the missus shouldn’t miss Sun City South ($35; 623-876-3015,, which I once called the best value in the entire Valley of the Sun—and a year later, I’ll stand by my opinion. This is “normal” golf—wall-to-wall grass, trees, a few lakes—plus some terrific strategic options, thanks to an inspired 2010 redesign from architect Tripp Davis and his associate, Gary Brawley, all for a price that will bring you back early and often.

On the east side of town, try the Indian Bend course at the Camelback Inn, a JW Marriott Resort & Spa ($59 Twilight-$99 in January), a handsome, traditional parkland layout graced with tall palms and mountain vistas. Individually memorable holes are lacking, but a stellar pro shop, service, location and playability for newer golfers are pluses.

For thrills like few others in the southwest, check out the Boulders ($60-$220; 480-488-9028,, which delivers golf among gigantic, ancient rocks for you and her. You get a sturdy test and she gets a new set of forward tees—at a reduced price—which form part of a 9-hole “course within a course” with hole lengths between 100 and 200 yards.

For golf on your own, I’ll toss out the usual suspects: We-Ko-Pa’s Saguaro course ($75-$205; 480-836-9000, tops my list if you had one course to play, thanks to its rolling, yet walkable Coore-Crenshaw design that’s free from homes. If you love famous footsteps, TPC Scottsdale’s Stadium course ($75-$299; 480-585-4334, is a must-do, with 25 years of Phoenix Open lore soaking its fairways.

Troon North ($175-$325; 480-585-5300, offers the finest combination of challenge and aesthetics in the Valley, whether you play the Monument or the Pinnacle, and Grayhawk ($100-$230; 480-502-1800, dishes out the best vibe—golf, food, service, ambiance, with both its courses, Talon and Raptor, having been PGA Tour venues.

(Photo: Troon North)

June 25, 2011

Ask Travelin' Joe: San Diego; Raleigh; St. George, Utah; and Tybee Island, Ga.

Posted at 8:29 AM by Joe Passov

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

Torrey Dear Joe,
My friend and I will be traveling to the San Diego area and would like to play some reasonably priced courses within 30 miles of the Convention Center.
—Moe Stopa, Etters, Pa.

Just minutes away from the Convention Center, via the Coronado Bay Bridge, is Coronado Municipal Golf Course ($30-$51; 619-435-3121, on San Diego Bay. Tee times are hard to come by, play is slow and half the holes are nondescript, but there is some visual magic. The 406-yard third hole gives you an up-close view of both the bridge and a lineup of massive Navy ships, the 370-yard 16th goes right by a marina full of sailboats and the 18th tee is perched at the water's edge. This easy walk costs $15 after 3 p.m., making it one of America's best values.

More of a splurge, but worth it for its clifftop ocean views, PGA Tour pedigree and proximity to downtown is Torrey Pines. The front nine of the North Course ($100-$125; 877-581-7171, has far more excitement than the back, so the after-3 p.m. twilight rate ($60-$75) is a bargain, because even if you don't finish you'll still have played the best holes. The South costs more ($183-$229), is a bit less scenic and plays much tougher, but it did host the dramatic 2008 U.S. Open.

Dear Joe,
Eight of us are traveling to Raleigh, N.C. We're looking for your input on courses in that area. We hope to play four rounds in the $50-$75 range.
—Dave Large, Rochester, N.Y.

There is golf to be played in the heart of college basketball country. Start in Chapel Hill with UNC Finley ($50-$82; 919-962-2349, where Davis Love III showed fellow Tar Heel Michael Jordan how to grip a club. Tom Fazio reworked the now 62-year-old layout in 1999, and in typical Fazio fashion it's very playable but a task from the tips. Par-4 brutes at 15 and 16 will wreck your score, and watch out for overzealous rangers, who can wreck your rhythm.

Not far away is UNC rival Duke University ($50-$100; 919-681-2288, in Durham, where a 1957 Robert Trent Jones Sr. design was tweaked by son Rees in the 1990s. Tree trouble, strategic bunkering and a stern finish highlight this traditional parkland track.

Finally, for a dose of more modern craftsmanship right in Raleigh, check out Lonnie Poole Golf Course at North Carolina State University ($49-$75, 919-833-3338, This two-year-old Arnold Palmer creation sports huge greens and a big-time closing par-4.

Hey Joe,
I'm planning a 9-day trip to St. George, Utah. Right now, we're looking at Coral Canyon, Sand Hollow, the Ledges and Kokopelli courses. Would you recommend any others, or should we just play these twice? I was also looking at Wolf Creek in Mesquite and wondering if it was worth the money.
—Randy Decker, Albuquerque, N.M.

Since Entrada at Snow Canyon is private unless you're staying on-site, you've tagged the must-plays in southwestern Utah's "Color Country." First up should be Sand Hollow ($35-$125; 435-656-4653,, the John Fought design that soars with a back nine among the ridge-lines and red-rock outcroppings. You'll pay $35 to play after 1 p.m. from Sunday through Thursday.

You might also want to try nearby Sky Mountain ($20-$73; 435-635-7888, It's just 6,383 yards from the tips, but it wins for sheer scenery.

If you're going to be here for nine days, by all means make the 35-minute drive to Mesquite, Nevada and Wolf Creek ($85-$195; 866-252-4653, It's worth the time, trouble and money for a one-of-a-kind thrill ride.

Dear Joe,
I'm heading down to Tybee Island, Georgia for a week around July 4, but I really don't feel like going to Hilton Head to play golf. Can you make some recommendations for Savannah, Ga.? My budget is $75 or less.
—Michael Strong, via e-mail

Stretch that budget just a little bit and you can play the city's best track, The Club at Savannah Harbor ($75-$95; 912-201-2240,, a 1999 Bob Cupp/Sam Snead design that hosts the Champions Tour's Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf. The heavily contoured greens make putting here an adventure, but the well-placed wetlands also help make it an interesting strategic test. Holes like the long par-4 6th, with the Talmadge Bridge serving as a backdrop, make this a memorable one.

Southbridge ($30-$50; 912-651-5455,, a 1989 Rees Jones creation, is the area's best value, while Crosswinds ($23.50-$51.50; 912-966-0674, is a must-play for your first or final round, given its convenient location just five minutes from the Savannah Airport.

(Photo: John Mummert/USGA)

March 10, 2011

Ask Travelin' Joe: Tucson, Lake Tahoe and Savannah

Posted at 4:55 PM by Joe Passov

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

Starpass Dear Joe,
Late March - Tucson - I want desert golf, my wife wants the spa. Any good deals out there?
Glen Johnson
Aurora, Colo.

There's no shortage of stand-alone spas in the Old Pueblo, including two of the finest - but priciest - in the U.S., Miraval and Canyon Ranch. Fortunately, there is also a fistful of superb full-service resorts in town as well, where pampering your body won't cost you an arm and a leg.

Off by its cactus-studded lonesome is the JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort & Spa (520-792-3500,, which dishes out 27 desert-framed holes that combine the architectural talents of Bob Cupp and Arnold Palmer (pictured). If you like famous footsteps, Starr Pass was the site of Phil Mickelson's first PGA Tour win back in 1991, when the property was under the TPC umbrella, and when Phil was still an amateur.

New at the JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass is the Spring Golf & Spa Package, which includes 18 holes per person, deluxe lodging, one 50-minute spa treatment and a nightly $50 dining credit. That ought to bring smiles to both your faces.

Hi Joe,
I'm heading up to Lake Tahoe in mid-March for a quick three-day weekend and was wondering if golf is even a possibility. Do you know of any decent courses that might be playable within about an hour or so drive of Tahoe?
Eric Grohman
Long Beach, Calif.

If you can drag yourself away from the casinos, you might just be in luck. Vic Williams, a very capable golf writer and editor who lives in the area, assures me that down from the mountains, there's playable golf weather to be had. In fact, the forecast through March 17 features daily highs from 57 to 61 degrees. Our recommendations are for the Reno/Sparks/Carson City area, but no matter which course you choose, it's between 10 and 60 miles of North or South Lake Tahoe.

Highest marks go to Genoa Lakes ($65; 775-782-4653, in Genoa, straight down the hill from Heavenly and the South Shore. There are two tracks here, but the one you want is the Lakes course, a John Harbottle/Peter Jacobsen design that's slashed by the Carson River and which sports open panoramas of the Sierra Nevadas. Note that it's closed Mondays and Tuesdays in March.

Next up is Dayton Valley Golf Club ($40; 775-246-7888, in Dayton. It's a little longer drive from the lake, roughly 20 minutes east of Carson City, but Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay carved a value-laden beauty from the mountain foothills, complete with a sea of soft mounds and bold bunkers.

Another contender for "best value" honors is Eagle Valley's West course ($35; 775-887-2380, in Carson City, an affordable, Arthur Jack Snyder-designed muni in a high-desert setting that meanders through sagebrush.

In the other direction, Wolf Run ($40; 775-851-3301, is yet another of the region's memorable bargains. Situated about a half-hour from the North Shore/Incline Village, in south Reno, its 5,000-foot elevation makes daily play in March a little dicey, but check anyway. The 7,100-yard layout is strong enough to serve as home course for the University of Nevada golf team, but it's pretty playable for all, regardless of your level of education.

Final options include the Resort at Red Hawk ($50-$55; 866-462-4295, and D'Andrea Golf Club ($69; 775-331-6363, Both are located in Sparks, east of Reno, roughly an hour or so from the North Shore of Lake Tahoe, and are worth the journey. Red Hawk is a Robert Trent Jones Jr. design that blends mountain meadows, water hazards and real estate, while D'Andrea is a hilly, treeless Keith Foster creation among the desert hills. It's a bit pricier to tackle D'Andrea, but its lower elevation often allows for better weather and better conditions.

Dear Joe,
We are planning our spring golf trip to Savannah, Ga., in March. Can you recommend some good courses in the area? Price is a consideration, but not a deal-breaker.
Jim T.
Via email

It's been more than a decade since "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" put Savannah on the A-List of tourist destinations. If the buzz has ebbed somewhat since then, the attractions haven't. The city's "must-play" is the Troon-managed Club at Savannah Harbor ($110; 912-201-2240,, a Bob Cupp/Sam Snead collaboration that plays host to the annual Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf, the oldest event on the Champions Tour. Wetlands, undulating greens and 7,288 yards of length form the bulk of the challenge, but memorability is its strongest suit, thanks to holes such as the long par-4 6th, which finishes in the shadows of the spectacular Talmadge Bridge and the par-4 9th, with the handsome Westin hotel in the backdrop.

Perhaps the region's best bargain is Southbridge ($40-$50; 912-651-5455,, a flattish romp through woods and lakes that Rees Jones crafted back in 1989. Don't forget, too, that you've got a gold mine of courses 30-45 minutes away, on and off Hilton Head Island.

However, if you want one more Savannah option, especially on your first or last day of the trip, check out Crosswinds Golf Club ($20.50-$55; 912-966-0674,, which is conveniently situated five minutes from the Savannah Airport. You'll find a little bit of everything on this 6,609-yard track, except homes. A superb, watery, risk/reward par-5 closer is a great way to end the trip.


February 17, 2011

Ask Travelin' Joe: Punta Cana, St. Simons/Jekyll Island and Virginia Beach

Posted at 3:02 PM by Joe Passov

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

Corales Dear Joe,
We're traveling to Punta Cana (Dominican Republic) in February and I was curious to know what courses you would recommend. We haven't made final arrangements yet but will be doing so very shortly. FYI, I play with a handicap of 8, am 54 years old and never play the tips. I appreciate you taking time to respond and your advice is valuable in our decision making.
Gene Jackson
Pittsburgh, Pa.

With any luck, you're staying at the Punta Cana Resort -- or else are clever enough to talk your way onto the development's two courses. The newer of the pair, Corales ($300; 888-442-2262, is a 2010 Tom Fazio creation that's a seaside stunner from any set of tees. Coconut palms, sandy waste areas and a surf-filled finishing stretch to remember make it worth the tariff. Its 10-year-old sister layout, La Cana, is no slouch in the looks and challenge departments, either. However, this P.B. Dye design is more accessible to outside play and can be had for less money as well.

Elsewhere on the east side of the Dominican Republic, you might explore Bavaro (809-686-5797, which despite its short length, is as tough as the namesake Giants tight end was during his playing days. Check in advance for playing conditions, as this recent P.B. Dye redesign of a jungle-strewn, 1991 Juan Manuel Gordillo layout only reopened last month.

Another worthy alternative is Cocotal Golf & Country Club ($91-$121; 809-687-4653,, an 11-year-old 27-holer affiliated with the Sol Melia resorts. It was crafted by top Spanish architect Jose "Pepe" Gancedo, and it may be long on the scorecard, but it isn't terribly demanding, due to its wide fairways and flattish terrain.

Finally, if you can figure out a way to get onto nearby Punta Espada at Cap Cana (809-227-2262,, the jaw-dropping Jack Nicklaus design that hosts the Champions Tour, do so. Its roomy fairways, rugged, yet gorgeous par-3s and never-ending sea views make this an unforgettable experience.

Dear Joe,
My wife is traveling on business to the St. Simons/Jekyll Island region of Georgia in February. I'm planning on traveling along with her to enjoy some golf. Any suggestions on where to play?
Timothy Wood
Scranton, Pa.

Jekyll Island (912-635-2368, boasts the state's largest golf resort, with 63 holes, so if you're craving value and variety, you've come to the right place. Each of the four courses can be played for less than $50 and there are enough distinctions between the layouts to merit at least one time around. That said, none of the four courses (Pine Lakes, Indian Mound, Oleander and the nine-hole Great Dunes) are must-plays. They lack modern-day length from the tips and are maintained the way you'd imagine state park courses would be. However, they're all scenic, undisturbed by homes and are pretty enjoyable for a vacation round. Pine Lakes is my pick if you're going to do one, but for a terrific time travel trip, check out the 1926 Walter Travis-designed Great Dunes. It's funky, ancient fun.

Perhaps the best course in the region, outside of the private tracks at Sea Island, is the King and Prince Beach Golf Resort ($79-$115; 912-634-0255, Formerly known as the Hampton Club, this sporty 6,462-yard, par-72 course was renovated by Billy Fuller in 2009 and features a handful of memorable holes, notably the 561-yard, par-5 3rd, which has marsh down the entire left side and a lake on the right side near the green and the 391-yard par-4 13th, which hopscotches the marsh via islands of turf.

Dear Joe,
I am in Connecticut and the snow, cold and snow days are driving me batty. I cannot wait until March's trip to Myrtle Beach. I need golf now. I can do a long weekend during mid-February (3 nights). I can fly there with frequent flyer miles. I need a 55-degree location with the cheapest stay and play available. Please don't send me to Australia -- I don't have that many miles!
David Williams

OK -- Australia's out. That leaves us with, well, dozens of destinations that still fit your bill. I'm not sure why you'd settle for 55 degrees, when you can have 70 or so, plus affordable golf in places such as Tucson, Arizona and a half-dozen pockets in Florida. Still, if you're looking for inexpensive lodging and golf bargains at quality courses, at a locale that's not terribly far from home, I'll suggest Virginia, specifically Virginia Beach.

In a couple of days, the average daytime high will be right at that magic 55-degree number and the course list is surprisingly strong. You can play two of the finest courses in the mid-Atlantic, the Nicklaus and Palmer courses at Bay Creek ($50-$110; 757-331-8620, for $50 after 1 p.m. and can find heaven at Rees Jones' Hell Point ($29-$69; 757-721-3400, for less than $30 after noon.

For general information on where to stay and play in Virginia, check out the new Virginia Golf Trail ( which pulls together the best values in golf, lodging, restaurants, wineries and cultural attractions. Oh, yes, and bring a sweater. It's still February.

(Photo: Evan Schiller)

January 06, 2010

Ask Travelin' Joe: Kissimmee, Fla. and St. Simons Island, Ga.

Posted at 11:09 AM by Joe Passov

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

Hi Joe,
My husband and I are looking for a three- or four-day getaway that includes an introduction to golf. We're flying out of Toronto, and we're thinking Florida or Georgia. We don't want an isolated location, but one where we might find other activities nearby.

Lisa and Malcolm, via e-mail

Dip your toes into the game at Orange Lake Golf Resort (407-239-1050, in Kissimmee, Fla. In addition to two 18-hole courses, Orange Lake has a pair of beginner-friendly nines, superb practice facilities (the McCord Golf Academy is here) and easy access to Orlando attractions.

Dear Joe,
I live in Delray Beach, Fla. and my buddy lives in Greenville, S.C. We're trying to set up a golf vacation at a nice, affordable place somewhere between the two towns. Do you have any recommendations on places that offer golf packages?

Stuart Feder, Delray Beach, Fla.

Just split the difference — it'll be about 350 miles for each of you — and hit I-95 to Brunswick, Georgia. There are plenty of options here, both high-end and bargain-barrel, but I think the best mid-priced destination is the oceanfront King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort (800-342-0212, on St. Simons Island. The recently renovated course (formerly known as the Hampton Club) features four holes that are almost islands in the salt marshes. In February, the Royal Golf Package starts at $284 per person per night.

March 05, 2009

Ask Travelin Joe: Tucson, Jacksonville and Savannah

Posted at 3:13 PM by Joe Passov

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

Hi Joe,
Our last golf vacation took us to Carefree, AZ where we played Troon North and Grayhawk, which we really enjoyed. We are planning another 5-day golf vacation this April (3 days of golf is what we're playing). We love desert golf. What and where would you suggest for the same high quality of golf courses? We'd be willing to try another state -- maybe New Mexico. What are your thoughts? My husband and I love reading your articles!

Kim & Lyle Somers

Thanks for the kind words. In return, I'll give you some straight ones. One day, make sure your desert golf itineraries include the Albuquerque/Santa Fe regions of New Mexico and the St. George, Utah area. However, if you're headed south in early April, the weather in both New Mexico and southwestern Utah can be a little dicey.

Instead, try Tucson, Arizona. The saguaro-studded desert terrain, backdropped by the towering Catalina Mountains, makes Tucson golf perhaps the most beautiful high-desert golf experience anywhere. Since you enjoyed Troon North and Grayhawk, two marvelous, if pricey spreads, I recommend Ventana Canyon's two tracks ($120-$195; 520-577-1400,, especially the Tom Fazio-designed Mountain course, whose 107-yard, par-3 3rd hole might be most thrilling drop shot in the southwest.

I also like Jack Nicklaus' three nines at La Paloma Country Club ($90-$205; 520-742-6000, that are covered in cactus. You'll need to stay at the Westin to play, but it's worth the splurge.

Finally, try out the new 27-hole Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain course ($99-$225; 520-572-3500,, site of Geoff Ogilvy's Accenture Match Play win last week. The pros played the Saguaro and Tortolita nines, but designer Jack Nicklaus' favorite is the Wild Burro loop.

Dear Joe,
I'm going on a trip to Jacksonville, Florida. What courses do you recommend for budget and value?

Tony Masseri
Long Island, N.Y.

Assuming you're skipping the trophy courses -- TPC Sawgrass, Amelia Island Plantation, Ponte Vedra Inn and the World Golf Village -- out of cost considerations, hands down the best value in Jacksonville is Windsor Parke Golf Club (904-223-4653, This 1991 Arthur Hills design boasts an array of strategically placed trees, lakes and bunkers and while there may be one too many houses to please purists, the price is right: $55 weekdays for non-residents through May and $70 weekends.

Another solid choice, especially if you crave a stern challenge, is The Golf Club at North Hampton (904-548-0000,; $75-$85), a 7,171-yard, par-72 Arnold Palmer design situated in Fernandina Beach, a half-hour north of Jacksonville.

Hi Joe,
I'll be heading down to the Savannah, Georgia area the third week of March with my bride to see the sights and play some golf. She likes playable courses. How's the weather that time of year? Also, any suggestions for eats and lodging?

Allen T.
Via email

First off, the weather should be glorious for you -- spring is just springing up, with daytime highs 66-72 degrees on average. Second, for a golf smorgasbord, don't forget that Hilton Head Island, S.C., is just a 45-minute drive from Savannah.

However, if you're going to hang out in Georgia for the week, check out the Westin Savannah Harbor (, set along scenic Lowcountry riverbanks. Its Greenbrier Spa is one of the South's best and its Troon-managed Bob Cupp course, the Club at Savannah Harbor (912-201-2240,, hosts the Champions Tour every year. The Golf or Spa Package starts at $339, while a la carte golf is $135.

I think you'll both warm to the Wilmington Island Golf Club (912-897-1612, a 1927 Donald Ross design that's dotted with mature pines and live oaks and goes for just $69, which includes cart and range balls. It's open to outside play all day Tuesday-Friday and after 12:30 p.m. on the weekend.

For eats, my wife, Betsy, swears by Food Network star Paula Deen's recipes, and her The Lady and Sons restaurant (912-233-2600, is one of the city's most popular.

Another great option for down-home cookin' is Mrs. Wilkes' Dining Room (912-232-5997, but bring cash as they don't take credit cards.

For upscale fare, stick to Elizabeth on 37th (912-236-5547, and the Olde Pink House (912-232-4286), two Savannah institutions.

For value (yet handsome) accommodations in the heart of historic Savannah, I like either of the two Hampton Inn properties.

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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