Category: Massachusetts

February 05, 2014

Can't afford to play the Pebble Pro-Am? Here's five affordable seaside spreads

Posted at 9:33 AM by Pete Madden

By JOE PASSOV, Golf Magazine Senior Editor

Pacific Grove Golf Links
Pacific Grove Golf Links / Joann Dost



Locals call this 82-year-old muni the "poor man's Pebble Beach" for good reason. Instead of Pebble's $500 green fees, hoofing it weekdays at the walkable layout is $46, $52 on weekends and $25 for twilight. You get two distinct nines: a passable parklander to open, followed by a stirring seaside loop, complete with huge sand dunes, ocean views, coastal breezes and a lighthouse. My favorite is the 513-yard, par-5 12th, which boomerangs to the right around dunes. It's reachable in two, but a rumpled fairway, stern crosswinds and the ocean to the left complicate matters.


Three times the host venue for the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship, this busy muni doesn't boast the most sophisticated design, yet it proved a worthy test on each occasion. Gusts from the adjacent Pacific, trees that bracket many fairways, and a healthy 6,991 yards from the tips all add up to a serious scoring challenge for any level. What truly elevates Wailua are its wondrous ocean vistas and affordable price tag. It's just $48 for nonresidents to walk during the week, and half that for twilight play. Local seniors and juniors pay less than 10 bucks, all to tackle holes such as the 456-yard, par-4 second, the Pacific churning along the left side; and a pair of into-the-wind, well-bunkered par 3s, the 14th and 17th, both of which face the ocean.

Highland Links Golf Course
Highland Links Golf Course / Larry Lambrecht



This funky 2,753-yard nine-holer on Cape Cod has so many delightful quirks it makes Prestwick look tame. Summer rates will set you back only $35, another $9 to ride. It's a small price to pay for fescue-framed holes that dip into beach canyons. Unforgettable attractions abound. The par-5 second sports a medieval granite tower honoring nineteenth-century singer Jenny Lind. And the par-3 ninth is backdropped by Cape Cod Lighthouse; dating to 1767, it's the oldest lighthouse on the Cape.

LOS VERDES GOLF COURSE, Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.

A few years back I lambasted this superbly situated muni for my nearly four-hour round -- on the front nine! Since then, the pace remains leisurely but not as glacial. No wonder it's packed; green fees are under $50 every day, even if you're in a cart, with prime-time walkers during the week paying $27 for a course that's a half-hour from LAX. Los Verdes' 6,617 breezy yards prove a sufficient challenge, especially the bluff-top, 441-yard, par-4 fourth. That hole, along with many others, offers sensational views of the Pacific Ocean. Hey, everyone deserves a second chance, right?


In 2009, Raymond Floyd supersized this 1961 Dick Wilson/Joe Lee 18-hole par-3 charmer, making it tougher and more dramatic. As for sheer drama, nature had already taken care of that. Long a popular LPGA Pro-Am venue, nearly half of Palm Beach's holes hug the Atlantic Ocean, while the other half wind along the Intracoastal Waterway. It's a blur of sand, water and wind, but with seasonal prices as low as $20 -- and with Golf Magazine Top 100 Teachers Kellie Stenzel and Scott Munroe on-site -- Palm Beach Par-3 belongs on your must-play list.

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July 26, 2011

Take it from Joe: Play the PGA Championship Here!

Posted at 2:14 PM by Joe Passov

Sebonack Golf Club, Southampton, N.Y. Photo: Larry Lambrecht.

Atlanta Athletic Club, site of the 2011 PGA Championship, is a strong test of golf, but does anybody really enjoy the PGA's choices of rough-choked layouts in hot August temperatures? Here are my 10 picks — some realistic, some fantasy — for where I'd like to see the PGA played next.

1. Los Angeles Country Club (North)
Los Angeles, Calif.

This famously exclusive club that abuts Hugh Hefner's mansion will finally open its doors to the outside world when it hosts the 2017 Walker Cup, the better to show off its stunning 2010 Gil Hanse restoration. Tree removal has opened up long-hidden vistas, bunkers now resemble their 1920s George Thomas originals, and a succession of meaty par-4s would test even the best.

2. Trump National Bedminster (Old)
Bedminster, N.J.

Tom Fazio designed this modern masterpiece in 2004, not far from USGA headquarters. Together with its younger sibling the New, the course would make a worthy challenge for the pros, with plenty of gallery space as well. Say what you want about its owner—and this course—but the publicity build-up would be off the charts.

3. Sebonack Golf Club
Southampton, N.Y.

The PGA enjoys going to new places from time to time, so why not Sebonack, the 2006 Jack Nicklaus/Tom Doak collaboration right next to the National Golf Links of America and overlooking Peconic Bay? The U.S. Women's Open visits here in 2013, but I wouldn't mind spending part of my August in the Hamptons, watching the Bubbas and Rorys battle the breezes.

4. Sand Ridge Golf Club
Chardon, Ohio

One of the more tranquil golf experiences I've enjoyed took place at this private 1998 Tom Fazio creation built for the folks at Best Sand, whose adjacent quarry supplies bunker sand to many other courses. I'll admit that August in suburban Cleveland can be toasty, but the city's rabid sports fans would turn out in droves—and hey, Cleveland could use a break.

5. Spyglass Hill
Pebble Beach, Calif.

Every year at the AT&T, Spyglass is dumbed down to get amateurs around in under seven hours. I'd love to see the pros cope with this course set up in full fury. Plus, August on the Monterey Peninsula is pleasant duty indeed.

6. Muirfield Village
Dublin, Ohio

Sure, this course already enjoys tons of exposure from Jack's annual PGA Tour shindig. But it would be nice to see the PGA show a little additional love by tossing a bone to the five-time winner of its premier championship, whose hometown course is easily deserving of a Major.

7. Pine Valley Golf Club
Pine Valley, N.J.

One of my fantasy picks hosted the 1985 Walker Cup and is home to the annual Crump Cup, an invitational event that no top amateur turns down. Alas, Pine Valley has too much sand and scrub to allow for efficient gallery flow, but wouldn't it be awesome to see the game's best tackle the best course in the game?

8. Pronghorn (Nicklaus)
Bend, Ore.

Formerly a private real estate development spread, Pronghorn now offers limited public play, although few will take on the 7,379-yard tips, with a 75.2 rating and 151 slope. I'd relish watching the pros try it, especially amid Bend's dry, perfect August climate, at 3,200 feet in the shadows of Mt. Bachelor.

9. Nantucket Golf Club
Siasconset, Mass.

This exclusive, low-profile Rees Jones design ripples with moguls and is long enough when the wind blows to challenge the play-for-pay crowd. And any excuse to spend a portion of August on the island of Nantucket justifies its inclusion on this list.

10. Crystal Downs
Frankfort, Mich.

Perched upon a bluff between Lake Michigan and Crystal Lake, this Alister MacKenzie/Perry Maxwell collaboration is a bit too remote and lacks sufficient length to bother today's stars, but toss in gusts off the lake, dense native roughs and enough classic holes to fill a design textbook, and it would provide a memorable PGA site regardless of scores.

May 05, 2011

Ask Travelin' Joe: Where to play near the Kentucky Derby, Players Championship and Phoenix airport

Posted at 2:22 PM by Joe Passov

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

French Hi, Joe:
We would like to plan our yearly golf trip around the Kentucky Derby, the first week of May. Could you recommend a home base/resort within two hours with at least 36 holes and some solid tracks to play close by?
Mark Johnston, Ayr, Ontario, Canada

Gallop off to French Lick, Indiana, 60 miles from Louisville. The French Lick Resort (888-936-9360,; May packages from $319) sports two handsomely restored hotels, the French Lick Springs and the amazing, domed West Baden Springs, plus casino gaming, spa and 45 holes. Most prominent is the two-year-old Pete Dye course, a ridge-top, 8,100-yard beautiful brute that will slap you silly if you're hitting it crooked.

More soothing, except on the wildly sloping greens, is the Donald Ross course, a 94-year-old layout expertly restored by Lee Schmidt that hosted the 1924 PGA Championship, won by Walter Hagen. An ancient nine-holer, the Valley Links, completes the offerings.

Dear Joe:
I just ordered tickets to the 2011 Players Championship. Where can we play some golf in the Ponte Vedra area wthout having to spend a fortune?
Karl Smith, via e-mail

Public-access tracks in the vicinity of a big-time event typically jack up their rates during tournament week. The Arthur Hills-designed Windsor Parke (904-223-4653, in Jacksonville is an affordable exception. Its Players Week rates won't be established until one month out, but the club says it won't be much higher than the posted fees, which are $55 weekdays, $70 weekends. And it's conveniently located between downtown Jacksonville and the beaches.

For a splurge, pay the $199 premium to play the Slammer & Squire Course at World Golf Village (normally $49-$169; 904-940-6088, Both the Slammer & Squire (designed by Bobby Weed, with Sam Snead and Gene Sarazen) and the King & Bear (a Palmer/Nicklaus collaboration) are among the region's best. Then you can tour the World Golf Hall of Fame after your round.

Dear Joe,
What courses would you recommend in the Cape Cod, Massachusetts area? I've booked a trip in May and wondered if you would pick any of the courses I chose.
Bryan Rhoads, via e-mail

It's hard tearing Travelin' Joe away from a platter of Ipswich whole belly fried clams when he's out on the Cape, but 18 holes on a breezy spring day just might do it. Ocean Edge Resort & Golf Club ($115-$145; 508-896-9000, in Brewster is a favorite since the Nicklaus Design makeover in 2008, but you have to stay there if you want to play it.

Among the public plays, Cranberry Valley ($38-$84; 508-430-5234, in Harwich is more sweet than tart, with holes that melt into the terrain, but the tree-lined, gently bunkered Geoffrey Cornish design will make you pucker at the 18th, a 575-yard double-dogleg par-5.

Technically not on Cape Cod, but worth the ferry ride to Martha's Vineyard, is Farm Neck ($50-$150; 508-693-3057,, a presidential hangout for good reason—plenty of privacy and lots of jaw-dropping views of Nantucket Sound.

Dear Joe,
Our group is looking for a course to play on a Sunday morning in early May that's relatively close to Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. We're already playing the Boulders, Talking Stick, Grayhawk and Troon North on Wednesday through Saturday, and we're considering either the Legacy Golf Resort or Raven at South Mountain for Sunday. Which would you recommend?
Jim Esdale, Birmingham, Ala.

It's pretty to hard to go wrong with either of the Sunday choices that you've mentioned. Both Legacy ($39-$159; 602-305-5550, and Raven ($49-$150; 602-243-3636, are Gary Panks designs that are blanketed with mature vegetation. Raven's the marginally tougher and longer choice, while Legacy is slightly closer to the airport, although both are 15 minutes or less. With everything else being equal, I would say that you should probably give the nod to the Raven, which will have a $79 rack rate on a Sunday morning in May, versus $109 at Legacy.

(Photo: Brian Walters/Links Imaging)

September 04, 2009

Red Tail in Devens, Mass. worth the trip

Posted at 3:34 PM by Cameron Morfit

I played Red Tail Golf Club in Devens, Mass., this morning, playing hooky from covering the nearby Deutsche Bank Championship. Okay, it's not really that nearby -- Norton, home of TPC Boston, is an hour away by car. But Red Tail, which hosted the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links in June, is worth the trip if a little out of the way.

The course is a Brian Silva design and played through a bunch of trees but somehow doesn't feel claustrophobic. There are one or two longish holes, but mostly the place is a bunch of fairly short doglegs, from the silver tees, anyway, that call on you to work the ball off the tee. For the most part the place is a salute to the dogleg right.

My friend Graham, whose twin girls are so young he's exempt for having to take responsibility for any bad shots for at least the next 12 months, nearly drove the green on the downhill, big-dogleg-right 17th hole. From where the silver tees were, way up in the box, I'd guess it was about a 320-yard poke, with my driver. What law is it that says a borrowed driver will always produce mammoth, accurate tee shots? And why is there a corollary that says as soon as you buy that driver, it will stop working?

But I digress. The course's website says it "meanders among numerous streams and ponds," and it does. It also reminds of Cape Cod at times, as with the sandy soil on 17. Nice place. I'd go back, if I lived here.

August 26, 2009

Ask Travelin' Joe: Oregon, Colorado and Cape Cod

Posted at 4:46 PM by Joe Passov

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

Dear Joe,
We are a group of eight golfers traveling to Bend, Oregon in September. Do you have any recommended courses accommodating four rounds of golf?

Carl Miller
Kansas City, Mo.

Hopefully you saw our feature on Bend in the August 2009 issue, but either way, here's a quick recap. Mike Reid certainly can vouch for Crosswater at Sunriver Resort ($109-$175; 541-593-4402, having walked away with a Champions Tour major there this past week. You don't have to be quite as straight as the man they call "Radar" to enjoy Crosswater, but you do have to be a guest of the resort to play it. Book your stay -- because it's the best course in the area. Ranked No. 33 in our 2008-09 Top 100 Courses You Can Play, this Bob Cupp/John Fought design is edged with wispy fescues and sports countless holes that skirt ponds, wetlands, the Deschutes River and the Little Deschutes River.

Continue reading "Ask Travelin' Joe: Oregon, Colorado and Cape Cod" »

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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