Category: New Orleans

March 26, 2013

Ask Travelin' Joe: Top picks for Houston and New Orleans, plus a $175,000 golf package

Posted at 1:39 PM by Joe Passov


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

The $175,000 Golf Trip

Before we get to this week's questions, I've got to tell you about this $175,000 golf package. If you've got six-figures to burn on a one-of-a-kind golf experience, then do I have the "deal" for you.

Mayakoba, a 128-room, all-suite luxury hotel on Mexico's Riviera Maya near Cancun, is introducing The Ultimate Golf Package, for the 401(K)-wrecking price of $175,000.

Available from Nov. 12-19, 2013, the package runs in conjunction with the PGA Tour's OHL Classic at Mayakoba, which moved this year from its customary February date.

Designed for you and two guests, the package includes a private lesson with Hall of Fame teacher Jim McLean, a round of golf with Hall of Fame golfer Greg Norman at nearby Playa Mujeres (complete with a chopper ride to and from), plus three spots in the Mayakoba Pro-Am.

But wait ... there's more! You'll stay seven nights in the 6,272-square-foot Presidential Lagoon Suite, sit at the VIP table at the pairings party, enjoy inside-the-ropes honorary observer positions during the tournament and a meet-and-greet with the tournament winner -- and plenty of other perks.

Call me old-fashioned -- or spoiled from my years at Golf Magazine -- but does that price tag sound, well, high? Hey, don't get me wrong. I'd love the chance to tee it up with the Shark. Certainly, the pro-am sounds like fun, though the typical going rate to play a PGA Tour event pro-am is around $10,000.

The Rosewood Mayakoba? Awesome hotel. I can reserve a Lagoon Studio Suite with a King bed the week before the tournament for $575 per night. Over seven nights, that's $4,025, rack rate. It's not the Presidential Suite, but it's pretty nice.

Oh, on the final day, they throw you and your pals a private BBQ and tequila tasting on the beach. But 175K? For that sum, I'd need to go home with a solid gold golf bag and a fistful of diamond ball markers.

Dear Joe,
What's your take on Redstone, this week's PGA Tour stop at the Shell Houston Open? Any other Houston courses you recommend?
Howard Irwin -- Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

I haven't yet played Redstone's Tournament course ($125-$175; 281-459-7800,, the Shell Houston Open venue since 2006, but it's a head-scratcher to me.

David Toms consulted on this Rees Jones design, and while Toms is hardly a bomber, Redstone, at 7,422 yards, is mostly a wide-open, mashers' paradise, albeit one with water all over.

On the one hand, the list of recent champions is impressive: Hunter Mahan, Phil Mickelson, Anthony Kim. On the other hand, while Jones's design is eminently fair, it doesn't speak well of the layout itself when the strongest attraction for the pros is that organizers mimic the firm, fast, shaved-down conditions players will face at Augusta National in two weeks.

I won't reserve final judgment until I play it, but from what I see on TV, it's a tough, honest test, but short on memorability.

The precursor to Redstone is Memorial Park Golf Course ($39-$49; 713-559-2000,, a muni that dates to the 1920s. Situated near downtown Houston, the 7,305-yard layout has long claimed status as one of the longest municipal courses in the U.S., and is a healthy stroll at sea level, even as the terrain is mostly flat.

Wide and wooded, it was designed by legendary Texas architect John Bredemus, who also shaped Colonial in Fort Worth. Its tournament history includes 14 Houston Opens between 1947 and '63, when winners included Hall of Famers Arnold Palmer, Jackie Burke Jr., Cary Middlecoff and Bobby Locke. You'll hardly be wowed by the design itself, but its woody setting, proximity to the city, and affordability are compelling draws.

You also won't find much innovative design at Augusta Pines Golf Club ($62.50-$79.25; 281-290-1910,, but you won't mind a bit. This replica-style course with many Augusta National overtures and back-to-back island greens to close the round is great fun, and it clearly appealed to Bernhard Langer, who ripped the course for rounds of 62-65-64 to win a Champions Tour event by eight in 2007. I guarantee you won't score that well, but you'll enjoy it just as much.

Hi Joe,
My husband and I will be in New Orleans for a wine-tasting event this spring. We'll have a free half-day before the event starts and would like to play golf. Do you have a favorite course for $100 or less?
Jo Ortega -- Highland Heights, Ohio

Since you're not only on a budget, but also appear to be somewhat pressed for time, Audubon Park ($35-$45; 504-212-5290, is the place to play. Condensed in 2001 from a regulation course to a 4,200-yard, par-62 layout by architect Denis Griffiths, this lagoon-filled, oak-dotted, well-bunkered track offers nice variety -- and you can finish in three hours. Edging a popular city park, with holes that abut Tulane and Loyola universities, Audubon Park might be my favorite executive course in the country.

RELATED: The 10 Most Expensive Tee Times

(Photo: Courtesy of Redstone Golf Club)

March 03, 2011

Ask Travelin' Joe: Links golf in the U.S., New Orleans and Fort Lauderdale

Posted at 12:55 PM by Joe Passov

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

Tpc Dear Joe,
A group of us is heading down to New Orleans for the first time. So far we have the TPC as a site. Any other recommendations for places to play?
Kevin C.
Rochester, N.Y.

I'm astonished at how many "New Orleans" questions come my way — and happy that folks are spending some coin in a place that deserves it. Aside from the Char-grilled Oysters at Drago's on the way into town from the airport, my other Big Easy favorites are Audubon Park ($30-$40; 504-212-5290,, a short but incredibly atmospheric layout that's accessible by streetcar, and the semi-private English Turn ($155; 504-391-8018,, a Jack Nicklaus creation that played host to the PGA Tour from 1989 through 2004, and again in 2006.

I've had several recommendations (though I haven't seen it myself) for La Tour Golf Club ($49-$69; 985-532-7111, in Matthews, a David Toms/Ken Morgan design that's 45 minutes from downtown. If the reports are true about a superb collection of par 3s, firm and fast conditions and hearty Cajun fare in the temporary clubhouse, La Tour would definitely qualify as a hidden gem.

Hey Joe,
I'm planning a golf trip for my dad and two brothers. We want to play some links courses in the U.S. but need some nightlife, and possibly a casino, nearby to keep our nights busy. Any suggestions?
Patrick Flanagan
Charleston, S.C.

Sorry to break it to you, but there's little authentic links golf in the U.S., let alone a combo of links and nightlife. The closest facsimile is Oregon's Bandon Dunes ($75-$275; 888-345-6008, bandondunesgolf) with its four firm, fast-running, wind-blown, oceanside layouts. I wouldn't call it library quiet at night — there is a pool table downstairs at the Bunker Bar — but you certainly won't mistake it for Vegas. Yes, the Mill Casino is 23 miles away (the casino will provide a free shuttle) in Coos Bay, but most find that after walking 36 holes and battling the elements, you're left with only enough energy to down a dinner, quaff a beverage and find your way back to your room.

Your hometown, Charleston, has wonderful seaside golf — if not true links — and terrific nightlife, so a stay at Kiawah might be a way to beat back gas prices and air fares. My only other suggestion: Fly to Vegas, play Royal Links ($125-$250; 888-427-6678,, with holes that pay homage to those found on British Open courses and after golf party to your heart's content.

Dear Joe,
I travel to Fort Lauderdale every March for an annual family vacation. For the last three years my brother-in-law and I saddle up for a day of golf and travel (within reason) to a course that we both decide we like. Spending money on the greens is not really an issue, we just want to play courses that challenge us and maybe have a little PGA history with them. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Gary M.
Boston, Mass.

You've probably played here, but for your criteria, it's worth mentioning Heron Bay ($85-$105; 954-796-2000, in Coral Springs, which played host to the PGA Tour's Honda Classic from 1996 to 2002, when it was part of the TPC network. Winners included Mark Calcavecchia, Vijay Singh, Stuart Appleby, Jesper Parnevik and Matt Kuchar, so as far as famous footsteps go, you're set. That said, I found it to be an exhausting sand-filled slog, with gigantic greens and even larger bunkers — everywhere. However, facilities and conditioning are invariably superb, so if you don't mind a workout with your sand wedge, you'll likely find Heron Bay to be a solid value.

Another affordable option nearby is Inverrary Country Club ($35-$70; 954-733-7550, in Lauderhill. Its recently renovated East course is a 1970 Robert Trent Jones Sr. design that played host to the Honda's forerunner, the Jackie Gleason Inverrary Classic, from 1972 to 1983. Lee Trevino, Tom Weiskopf, Johnny Miller and Hale Irwin were among the victors here. But there was no greater champion than Jack Nicklaus, who won back-to-back in '77-'78, the latter in one of the greatest finishes in Tour history, when he birdied the final five holes, including a chip-in, to nip Grier Jones by one. The course itself isn't hauntingly memorable, but delivers good bang for the buck.

(Photo: TPC Louisiana)

March 04, 2010

Ask Travelin' Joe: New Orleans, San Diego and South Florida

Posted at 12:15 PM by Joe Passov

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

Dear Joe,
I'm going to New Orleans for a bachelor party with 20 guys and am interested in good courses in the area. Any thoughts?

Mike Ryan
Via email

Don't scoff at a par-62 course: Audubon Park ($30-$40; 504-212-5290, is 4,200 yards of lagoons, moss-drenched oaks, mounds and bunkers. It's close to downtown, next to Tulane University, it's incredibly affordable and best of all — for your purposes — it takes just three hours to play, so you can get back to the Big Easy's other bachelor party attractions.

For a more upscale experience-and bragging rights back home, try the TPC Louisiana ($79-$169; 504-436-8721,, a long, if flattish Pete Dye design that hosts the PGA Tour's Zurich Classic. It's pricey in high season, at $169 from March 5-May 16, but the $89 Twilight rate on weekends will help.

Hey Joe,
It's cold here in Toronto, Ontario, but I'm heading to San Diego, specifically La Jolla, in March with my son and brother-in-law. We definitely want to play Torrey Pines North & South. Anything else you might suggest that's close by? P.S. My son and I are both 12 handicappers. My brother-in-law, well, that's a whole other story altogether!

"Freezing" Frank Valle
Toronto, Canada

Warm up with the Grand Golf Club at Grand Del Mar Resort ($195-$215, 858-314-1930,, a short drive north from La Jolla. The Tom Fazio design weaves in and out of coastal canyons. However, it's not cheap, and you need to stay there to play there.

More accessible, if equally steep, is Aviara ($215-$235, 760-603-6900,, a classy Arnold Palmer design 20 miles to the north in Carlsbad that bursts with flowers, water features and undulating greens.

A less costly alternative is the Crossings at Carlsbad ($90-$120; 760-444-1800, This 2006 Greg Nash design suffers from a funky routing with some odd stops and starts, but also boasts a fistful of drama-filled holes, bridges that span environmental areas and Pacific Ocean views.

Dear Joe,
A buddy and I would like to plan a golf trip to South Florida in late March. We are looking at Tampa/St. Pete or Naples. Can you recommend either location vs. the other, plus courses and hotels?

Tim Herlehy
Burlington, Mass.

Naples is great, but more so if you have private club access. You'll have more options in the Tampa/St. Pete area. For the region's best golf, go with Innisbrook Resort (727-942-2000, in Palm Harbor. Home to the PGA Tour's Transitions event, Innisbrook leads off with the Copperhead course, a layout Ernie Els has called "the best we play in Florida." Its No. 2, the Island, is nearly as strong. It's a watery track dotted with cypress trees that played host to the 1990 NCAA Championship, won by Phil Mickelson. Rack rates start at more than $200 for golf, but most at Innisbrook opt for one of five golf packages that reduce the rates considerably.

The best value in the region — and maybe in all of Florida — is Cheval Golf & Country Club ($35-$45; 813-948-2114,, a private course in Lutz, just north of Tampa that offers outside play for the time being. There's real estate, but it doesn't really intrude, plus water on 17 holes and, since it's a Steve Smyers design, plenty of sand from start to finish.

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


Subscribe To Blog Headlines


Trips Blog Archives

To view posts from a particular day,
simply select the date below.

February 2014
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28

<< Previous Months

Popular Tags