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My boss and I are attending meetings near Orange County, Calif. and were curious on your thoughts on the best course to play. Strawberry Farm is not available, but we were looking at Coyote Hills or Oak Creek and/or possibly making the drive to Trump National.
You can't go wrong with any of the O.C. tracks you mentioned, but if you want maximum views for maximum dollars, make the drive to Trump. Six weeks ago in this space, I also recommended Arroyo Trabuco and Tijeras Creek. If you're looking for a shorter commute, both the Ocean North and Ocean South courses at Pelican Hill Golf Club (877-735-4226, pelicanhill.com; $235) in Newport Coast dish out rolling Tom Fazio designs with stunning Pacific views. Twilight rates are $135.
Just east of Anaheim is Black Gold Golf Club (714-961-0060, blackgoldgolf.com; $92-$120) in Yorba Linda, not far from the Richard M. Nixon Library and Birthplace, which offers an unimpeachably solid Arthur Hills design set among steep hills and pumping oil wells.
I'm getting married in Tucson and am getting the guys together for a round of golf before the wedding. We want to play a good, quality course but don't want to break the bank. I was reading up on Randolph North in the city. It's listed as an LPGA Tour stop as well as a former PGA Tour stop. Any suggestions?
If you're saving your dough for the wedding cake, centrally located Randolph North (520-791-4161, tucsoncitygolf.com; $42-$70), that formerly hosted the Joe Garagiola Tucson Open and the Seiko Match Play, is a good bet. Its equally priced, shorter, but more interesting sibling, Dell Urich, was the scene for LPGA events in 2003 and 2004. Both are parkland layouts.
If you want to sample a modestly priced desert design, try Crooked Tree Golf Course (520-744-3322, crookedtreegolfcourse.net; $35-$48), a sturdy layout with mountain views and no homes that can be walked after 2 p.m. for $18.
We're planning a trip to Missouri. Can you recommend courses in the Branson area?
San Antonio, Texas
Branson Creek (417-339-4653, bransoncreekgolf.com; $48-$99) in Hollister is absolutely worth the splurge. Ranked No. 76 among GOLF Magazine's Top 100 You Can Play, this heavily undulating Tom Fazio design stretches more than 7,000 yards from the tips and sports panoramic vistas of the surrounding Ozark hills.
A notable newcomer is the Payne Stewart Golf Club (417-337-2963, paynestewartgolfclub.com; $50-$65), a rugged, sandy test that pays homage to the late Missouri native. Nine holes are currently open (1-8, 18), with the balance slated to debut in May 2009.