Category: North Carolina


July 25, 2013

Deal of the Month: The Grove Park Inn

Posted at 2:58 PM by Joe Passov

Grovepark

Few resorts get to celebrate their 100th anniversary, and this year venerable Grove Park Inn will blow out a whole lot of candles.

Perched high above Asheville in the mountains of western North Carolina, Grove Park Inn has hosted such names as Ford, Rockefeller and Edison. Ten U.S. presidents, including golfer-in-chief Barack Obama, have put their heads in these beds, and the likes of Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus have teed it up here as well.

As a birthday present to itself, the Grove Park Inn has unveiled a $25 million renovation, along with specials such as the old-fashioned Hickory Sticks Golf Tournament and a variety of golf packages.

My pick is the Stay & Play Getaway package, which includes lodging, one round of golf (with cart) on the Inn's excellent Donald Ross layout, and one cocktail per person in The Great Hall Bar. August rates start at $409 per night, based on double occupancy.

800-438-5800, groveparkinn.com

April 12, 2012

Ask Travelin' Joe: Scottsdale, Myrtle Beach, Puerto Rico and Pine Needles

Posted at 3:27 PM by Joe Passov

Pronghorn

If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at askjoe@golf.com

Dear Joe,
Seven of us are headed to Scottsdale in May to play all of the top courses—Troon North, TPC, Grayhawk, Boulders and We-Ko-Pa. We've got room for one more course. Any suggestions?
Ray Talley, Medford, Ore.

My hometown is chockablock with second-tier tracks that would be trophy courses most anywhere else. It's tough to pick one, so here are three. Not far from We-Ko-Pa is SunRidge Canyon ($60-$170; 480-837-5100, sunridgegolf.com) in Fountain Hills, which, after a few years of neglect, is on the mend with new ownership. This layout boasts a back nine as rugged and scenic as any in the Valley of the Sun, culminating with a final stretch of challenging holes nicknamed "The Wicked Six."

Gold Canyon's Dinosaur Mountain ($45-$189, 480-982-9090, gcgr.com) is marred by too many houses but redeemed by dramatic holes and views of the Superstition Mountains.

A half hour south of the airport is Southern Dunes ($25-$89; 480-367-8949, golfsoutherndunes.com) in Maricopa. Formerly a private men's club (members included Mark Calcavecchia and Steve Jones), this Schmidt-Curley design in a pristine desert setting has clever bunkering, sizable greens and nary a weak hole.

Dear Joe, I have a dilemma! Sixteen of us are going to Myrtle Beach, where I haven't been in 25 years. We're looking at two packages: Stay at the Legends and play all five courses (Heathland, Moorland, Parkland, Heritage and Oyster Bay), or stay at True Blue and play there, Grand Dunes, Man O' War, Caledonia and TPC Myrtle Beach. Your thoughts?
Stuart Ryan, via e-mail

This is a tough call. You've got a solid lineup of courses at the Legends (800-299-6187, legendsgolf.com). I've played and enjoyed them all. I've also downed a few pints at the resort's charming Ailsa Pub, and even practiced after-hours on its 30-acre lighted range.

Now, if your crew is more into scenery and solitude, the True Blue villas (866-954-8311, fishclub.com), down south on Pawleys Island, is a better bet; plus, the region holds its own for restaurants. However, since you haven't been on the Grand Strand since Reagan was in the White House, play Caledonia. For its marriage of thinking-man's challenge and Low-country allure, Caledonia is my must-play course in Myrtle Beach.

Hi Joe,
My husband and I have been to Jamaica, the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic for golf vacations. My brother-in-law just returned from Puerto Rico and raved about it. Where does Puerto Rico rate with you compared to the others?

Sue Thompson, Bay Village, Ohio

Puerto Rico's golf scene has made huge strides in the past two years. Start with the new lodging component and stunning cliff-top design at Royal Isabela ($150-$250; 787-934-5648, royalisabela.com), which we featured last month.

Next on your list should be eco-minded Bahia Beach ($225-$275; 866-529-3996, bahiabeachpuertorico.com), recently redesigned by Robert Trent Jones II, where a superb St. Regis hotel opened in December 2010.

Jones's newest venture on the island is a sympathetic restoration of the East course at Dorado Beach ($185-$250; 787-626-1001, doradobeach.com), one of his father's true classics. Simply unforgettable are the risk/reward options and Atlantic Ocean views at the Z-shaped, par-5 4th. Lodging is lacking at Dorado right now, but a Ritz-Carlton Reserve boutique hotel is slated to debut late this year.

With a handful of other strong courses (many at bargain rates), a visit to El Yunque Rainforest, and the fine dining to be had in Old San Juan—and no passport needed—you've got a destination that's fast becoming a promised land for golf lovers.

Dear Joe,
My wife and I want to get away to the Southeast this spring for a week's golf vacation, and we want to get her lessons, too. What do you recommend?
Kent Cummings, Nutley, N.J.

Come spring, I'm partial to the Sandhills of North Carolina. With golf lore at just about every inter-section, Pinehurst simply rules. The iconic Pinehurst Resort (855-235-8507, pinehurst.com) offers fine golf instruction and the chance to tangle with the newly restored No. 2.

Yet for your specific needs, I'd pick Pine Needles Resort, next door in Southern Pines (May package rates from $270 and 5-day "Golfari" instruction packages from $2,545; 800-747-7272, pineneedlesmidpines.com). With two Donald Ross courses and one of America's greatest learning programs for women, Pine Needles will get your wife's game razor-sharp in short order.

(Credit: Becky McBride/Pronghorn Golf Club)

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 askjoe@golf.com.

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, golfcoronado.com) 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, torreypinesgolfcourse.com) 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, uncfinley.com) 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, golf.duke.edu) 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, lonniepoolegolfcourse.com). 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, sandhollowresort.com), 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, skymountaingolf.com). 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, golfwolfcreek.com). 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, theclubatsavannahharbor.com), 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, southbridgegolfclub.com), a 1989 Rees Jones creation, is the area's best value, while Crosswinds ($23.50-$51.50; 912-966-0674, crosswindsgolfclub.com) 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)

July 08, 2010

Ask Travelin' Joe: New Jersey, Columbus and North Carolina

Posted at 11:33 AM by Joe Passov

If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at askjoe@golf.com.

Hi Joe,
I have a friend who won a certificate for a twosome at New Jersey's Baltusrol. Unfortunately, four of us are making the trip. If I am not the lucky one, I was looking for advice on a decent course that's in that general vicinity. Any suggestions?

Kevin M.
Via email

"Would the two really jealous guys please report to the first tee?" Kevin, if you happen to miss out on Baltusrol, I couldn't blame you for being a little bummed. That said, you'll get over your woes in a hurry at Neshanic Valley Golf Course ($50-$80; 908-369-8200, somersetcountyparks.org). Situated in Neshanic Station, 25 miles southwest of Baltusrol as the crow flies, Neshanic Valley is a $20 million muni with 27 Hurdzan/Fry-designed holes, a 9-hole executive Academy course, a state-of-the-art practice center and the second on-course Callaway club-fitting center built in the U.S.

The Lake/Meadow combo opened first, with the aptly named Lake offering the most risk-reward options, but the Ridge nine is equal to the others in challenge and interest. This treeless spread sports tall grasses, serious bunkering, undulating greens and excellent conditions, especially for a muni. No, it ain't Balty, but Neshanic is nonetheless a soothing salve.

Dear Joe,
What are the best-condition, challenge, beauty-public access courses near Columbus, Ohio (within about 20 miles of downtown Columbus? I want to play at least one on a visit in late July with my teenage high school golf team sons. Cost is not an issue.

Thanks,
John P. Ryan
Via email

For the perfect blend of what you're looking for in the Buckeye State, you'll have to drive 45 miles east to Longaberger ($59-$99; 740-763-1100, longabergergolfclub.com), in Nashport, the Arthur Hills design that rates as Ohio's best public course.

For something closer to the number you were looking at, try the vapidly named East Golf Club ($39-$59; 614-855-8600, eastgolfclub.com), a well-wooded Arthur Hills creation in New Albany, seven miles outside the I-270 loop, that's decidedly more interesting than its name. Once the private Winding Hollow Country Club, then known as Tartan East, the layout is terrific even if its name isn't.

Hello, Joe,
My brother and I are going to be staying in Bryson City, N.C. from July 10-July 15. We have a free place to stay in Bryson City. What courses do you recommend in the area? We would be willing to travel within a 1- to 1.5-mile radius.

Boone Sutties
Conroe, Texas

Start right down the road with the brand new Sequoyah National Golf Club ($65-$110; 828-497-3000, sequoyahnational.com) in Cherokee, a Robert Trent Jones II/Notah Begay creation in the heart of the Smokies. Narrow, but spectacular defines this tree-studded tribal track that's part of the Harrah's Cherokee Hotel & Casino.

Forty-five minutes to the east, in Asheville is the Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa ($85-$149; 800-438-5800, groveparkinn.com), where the history of the hotel (ten U.S. Presidents have lodged there, including current First Golfer Barack Obama) is exceeded perhaps only by its classic Donald Ross layout, where savvy on uphill, downhill and sidehill lies will come in handy.

For another classic Ross experience at a fraction of the cost, the 6,420-yard, par-72 Asheville Municipal Golf Course ($17-$38; 828-298-1867, ashevilleparks.org) will satisfy. A flat front nine yields to a wildly hilly back side, capped off by the downhill plunge at the 222-yard, par-3 18th.

May 27, 2010

Ask Travelin' Joe: Hampstead, N.C. and Cleveland

Posted at 12:57 PM by Joe Passov

If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at askjoe@golf.com.

Hi Joe,
I have a foursome that is going down to Hampstead, N.C. (between Topsail Island and Wilmington). We have a free place to stay and are looking for three to four courses to play in that area that are challenging but will not break the bank. Any suggestions?

Dwayne L. Young
Uniontown, Ohio

Nice time of year to crawl along the Carolina coast. Start with Wilmington Municipal ($22-$35; 910-791-0558, ci.wilmington.nc.us), a ridiculously affordable, well-bunkered 1926 Donald Ross design that was handsomely restored by Clyde Johnston.

In Hampstead itself, Topsail Greens ($18-$35; 910-270-2883, topsailgreens.com) is a solid choice for value, convenience and its island-green 17th.

Twenty miles up the road, in Sneads Ferry is North Shore Country Club ($30-$78; 910-327-2410, northshorecountryclub.com), a sturdy 6,866-yard track with views of the Intracoastal Waterway. The lake-guarded 225-yard, par-3 17th and 456-yard, par-4 18th that demands two water carries, form an attractive, if rugged finish.

Finally for a splurge, check out the Cape Fear National ($110; 910-383-3283, capefearnational.com), a brand new Tim Cate design in the Brunswick Forest development of Wilmington. You find all the modern bells and whistles here - bold bunkering, wetlands carries and contoured greens-wrapped up in a tranquil package.

Dear Joe,
I'm headed back to Cleveland, Ohio for a wedding in June and have time to play one round. Any good publics to recommend?

Lorna Cavanaugh
Tucson, Ariz.

Happy occasions are great, especially in Cleveland, where the masses are still mourning the Cavaliers. For the perfect break from the family, my pick is Fowler's Mill ($42-$69; 440-729-7569, fowlersmillgc.com) in Chesterland, an excellent early Pete Dye design, circa 1972. Twenty-seven wooded, attractive holes await, but go with the Lake/River combination if you can. I managed to ace the 211-yard 3rd hole in 1996 (playing 192 that day) but the city's greatest scorecard wrecker comes one hole later, at the 461-yard, par-4 4th, which arcs to the right around a huge lake. A piece of wedding cake, catch a Tribe game and a stop at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and you've got a quality trip.

Just Back From: Primland Resort, Meadows of Dan Virginia
The Highland Course at Primland Resort popped into our 2008 Top 100 Courses You Can Play at No. 62 and it's easy to see why. Stunning, pristine Blue Ridge Mountain aesthetics are only part of the story. Firm, fast fairways and greens, dramatic elevation changes and compelling strategic options complete the picture on this Donald Steel design.

Another plus: In the past two years, they've cleared trees to open up more vistas of the gorge known as the Pinnacles of Dan as well as of distant peaks. I do have two knocks: First, it's an unrelenting spread, with thick rough and steep fall-offs responsible for a daunting middle tee slope of 139 - it's worse for ladies, a stratospheric 147 from the front tees. Second, its mountaintop location makes it prone to fog and mist.

That said, if you have to hole up inside for awhile, the new 26-room Lodge at Primland is a great place to do it. The regular rooms are stellar, but the Pinnacles Suite is one of the top hotel rooms in all of golf. The two-level setup features a pair of sofas downstairs, one facing a large HD flatscreen, the other looking out at the 10th fairway and the densely treed mountains beyond. You reach the bedroom via a spiral staircase.

Once upstairs, the silo-shaped shower features a stone floor, tile walls and three different kind of shower heads.

You want more cool stuff? Automatic shades control the 270-degree viewing prospects from 11 windows, both upstairs and down. Gourmet dining at Elements, a new spa and outdoorsy fun such as Sporting Clay Shooting, Horseback riding and ATV romps are part of the unusual offerings. So is the 4th-floor telescope room, where the roof opens to the sky and an astronomer on-site will explain what you're gazing at.

Primland is pretty remote - more than an hour from Greensboro on country roads - but I'll recommend it for a unique, pampering getaway and a memorable course.

Primland.com, 866-960-7746; golf packages from $400 per person per night.

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 askjoe@golf.com.

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, puertoloscabos.com) 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, pinehurst.com). 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, ritzcarlton.com), 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, ventanacanyonclub.com) a pair of mid-1980s Tom Fazio gems and La Paloma Country Club's ($85-$205; 520-742-6000, westinlapaloma.com) three nines, though you've got to stay at the adjacent Westin to get aboard.

November 07, 2009

Ask Travelin Joe: Palm Desert, California and High Point, North Carolina

Posted at 7:32 PM by Joe Passov

If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at askjoe@golf.com.

Dear Joe,
We're taking our annual buddies trip to Palm Desert, California this year. We're open to all types of courses and price ranges, but we like to play the best courses in the area when we travel. Any recommendations?

-- Martin Tardif, Montreal, Quebec, CanadaIndianwells_600x473

You definitely won't suffer a drought of quality courses in this desert. Start with PGA West's Stadium course ($99-$159; 760-564-5729, pgawest.com), a brute that will give you bragging rights back home.

La Quinta Resort's Mountain course ($89-$139; 760-564-5729, laquintaresort.com) is another Pete Dye test worth seeing.

Desert Willow's Firecliff ($110-$145; 760-346-7060, desertwillow.com) is a great upscale muni.

Finally, check out Indian Wells Resort's Celebrity course ($120-$155; 760-346-4653, indianwellsresort.com).

Hey Joe,
I'm going with the family to High Point, NC for a couple of days. What are the best courses within about 20 miles? The budget will be about $200 for both rounds.

-- Jesse Whitmire, via e-mail

Play Tanglewood Park's Championship course ($28-$48; 336-778-6300) in nearby Clemmons. This tough, 7,000-yard Trent Jones Sr. effort hosted the 1974 PGA Championship, when Lee Trevino edged Jack Nicklaus to win. Its sibling, the Reynolds, is shorter, tighter and even cheaper — pocket the savings!

April 23, 2009

Ask Travelin Joe: Florida Panhandle, Scottsdale stay-and-plays, and Charlotte

Posted at 11:29 AM by Joe Passov

If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at askjoe@golf.com.

Dear Joe,
Are there any must-plays in the Florida Panhandle?

Dave S.
Via email

I'm a big fan of the whole Sandestin set-up, whether for family stays or buddies trips, and that includes the golf, which boasts tremendous variety, including a couple of all-stars in the Raven and Burnt Pine. Frankly, the whole region boasts a surprising number of worth-your-while layouts. However, the feeble economy has rendered two "can't-plays" into two "must-plays."

Shark's Tooth ($90-$150, 850-534-5000, sharkstoothgolfclub.com) in Lake Powell and Camp Creek ($125-$145, 850-231-7600, campcreekgolfclub.com) near Panama City Beach are two dynamic St. Joe-owned layouts that have dropped their "private" status in recent months. Shark's Tooth is a pristine, low-profile Greg Norman design with minimal rough, with some unforgettable back nine holes that skirt the vast Lake Powell.

Camp Creek is an equally tranquil Tom Fazio test with wide fairways, massive, undulating greens and an abundance of hazards that drive the back tee slope to a whopping 152. You shouldn't miss either of them if you're in the region.

Continue reading "Ask Travelin Joe: Florida Panhandle, Scottsdale stay-and-plays, and Charlotte" »

December 05, 2008

Pinehurst: America's golf mecca

Posted at 3:52 PM by Gerald McCullagh

Many avid players often look to the British Isles for their golf pilgrimage, but don’t consider their own backyard.

Sure, St. Andrews and Turnberry are wonderful, but when seeking world-class golf, your first destination should be Pinehurst, N.C. Nowhere else in the United States can you play U.S. Open courses located just minutes from each another.

The rich golfing tradition of Pinehurst goes back more than 100 years to visionary developer James W. Tufts and legendary course designer Donald Ross. Since Ross’s Pinehurst No. 2 course opened in 1903, the North Carolina sand hills around Pinehurst have grown to include 43 golf courses with lodgings that include both on- and off-course accommodations.

The real heartbeat of the Pinehurst area is the Village Green, a small town reminiscent of New England charm. The town’s center is within walking distance to some of the finest old-world hotels I have ever seen. As I walked through the front door of the Pine Crest Inn, I felt as if I stepped back in time to the most romantic period in golfing history. Surrounding me were pictures of Sam Snead, Donald Ross, Julius Boros and other legends of the game.

I asked an older staff member what had changed over the years at the inn.

She replied, “Nothing.”

At the turn of the century golfers from the Northeast would ride the rail from Penn Station in Manhattan, arrive 12 hours later in neighboring Southern Pines, and be on the first tee in a half-hour. Along these lines, I heard a story of a father and son who frequently rode the train down on a Friday evening, played golf over the weekend, and returned back to Wall Street for business on Monday. The successful model that attracted visitors here 80 years ago remains strong today.

I can’t write about Pinehurst without mentioning Peggy Kirk Bell, a charter member of the LPGA. Her two magnificent golf courses, Pine Needles and Mid Pines, are the Donald Ross masterpieces and a testament to her contribution to the local community. When asked about the character of Mid Pines, Ross once stated that it played like a Viennese waltz with a subtle complexity and challenge that every player can appreciate.

When people visit the Pinehurst area, they often think of it as the perfect place to retire. It has so much to offer with affordable housing, great transportation, and a magnificent hospital. The medical center is one of the top hospitals in the country.

One of the most important things on any golf trip is the company. I found the perfect twosome to play with: my colleague Dee Forsberg Voss and my dear friend Dr. Douglas Knudson.

Thanks, Doctor, for a great birthday treat!

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Gerald McCullagh teaches at the University of Minnesota’s Le Bolstad Golf Club in Falcon Heights, Minn. He also blogs here.

Want to learn more about Pinehurst? Check out GOLF.com's articles, photo galleries and videos.

October 23, 2008

Ask Travelin' Joe: Charleston, S.C., Costa Rica and Winston-Salem, N.C.

Posted at 1:16 PM by Ryan Reiterman

If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at askjoe@golf.com.

Dear Joe,
I will be going to Isle of Palms in October. Any suggestions for the Charleston, S.C. and surrounding area?

Don Ratliff
Johnson City, Tenn.

Right in Isle of Palms is the Wild Dunes Resort, where two Tom Fazio courses await. Fazio is rebuilding the oceanside par-5 18th at the renowned Links course (843-886-2180, wilddunes.com; $135-$140) and progress is good, though not quite completed. The rest of the holes are delightful, weaving in and out of dunes and dense Lowcountry foliage, though one could certainly nitpick as to the overabundance of houses that bracket the fairways.

Don't overlook is its sibling layout, the Harbor. Nearly every hole encounters lakes, salt marshes or the Intracoastal Waterway -- and it's $30 cheaper to play during the fall.

The best Charleston-area bargain is the Links at Stono Ferry (843-763-1817, stonoferrygolf.com; $56-$80, a Ron Garl design that's chock full of Revolutionary War relics and features several holes along the Intracoastal.

Hi Joe,
We are going to Costa Rica in November and the price of golf there seems a bit steep. We are staying at the Paradisus Playa Conchal Resort and we were wondering if the golf is worth the price?

Steve Signor
Lawrenceville, Ga.

I'll grant you the tariff at the resort's golf course is heady. However, I will add that it's probably one of the few in this part of the world that's worth the cash. The Reserva Conchal Golf Club (506-2-654-4000, reservaconchal.com; $75-$125) is a gorgeous tropical tour de force from Robert Trent Jones II, which features a handful holes that overlook the Pacific Ocean to the west. Mountains, jungle-like foliage and even the stray howler monkey help make for a memorable round. Play after 2 p.m. for that $75 rate and you'll be read to howl yourself.

Dear Joe,
I'm going to be in Winston-Salem at the end of the month for a wedding and four of us will be looking for a Friday morning round of golf. We would like a course that is well-conditioned with a variety of holes but not excessively tight. Suggestions?

Raymond Roelandt
Via email

My automatic response when it comes to "Winston-Salem" and "public golf" is usually Tanglewood Park, whose Championship course hosted many Champions Tour events as well as the 1974 PGA Championship.

However, it's long on challenge, but short on variety, as nearly every hole is littered with bunkers on your way to an elevated green. Its companion, the Reynolds, is even tighter.

Better you should sample the pleasantly named Meadowlands Golf Club (336-769-1011, meadowlandsgolfclub.com; $41-$51), a playable 6,706-yard Hale Irwin design, or else try Salem Glen (336-712-1010, salemglen.com; $39-$55) in nearby Clemmons, a 1997 Nicklaus Design product that sports a flattish, open front nine and a rolling, wooded back nine.

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 askjoe@golf.com.


 

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
1
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