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I'm headed south from the Bay Area to attend a college graduation at Pomona, just east of L.A. I've got one round to play, but I'm still paying off student loans myself and need a bargain. Suggestions?
San Francisco, Calif.
Dean's List scholars should matriculate to Goose Creek Golf Club ($30-$75; 951-735-3982, golfgoosecreek.com) in Mira Loma. It's a short jaunt east from Pomona on the Pomona Freeway (rt. 60), then south for a few minutes on the I-15, the Ontario Freeway. Schmidt-Curley, one of golf's most underrated design firms, crafted one of the nation's most underrated values in Goose Creek.
Attractions include large, but not especially penal bunkers, big, smooth bentgrass greens, snow-capped mountain views and three holes that edge the Santa Ana River. You can walk during the week for $37, but expect crowds, because for this kind of quality at this price tag, the recession hasn't hit here yet.
Can you recommend a high-quality golf experience in Eastern Canada? Are there any resorts with more than one track (or multiple courses within a few miles) that are not too far from whatever airport you can fly into? Thanks.
I don't know how far east in Canada you had in mind, but I'll say without hesitation that the Atlantic Province of Prince Edward Island is your best match. With 10 percent of Canada's Top 100 courses, PEI is loaded with great, affordable golf courses, all pretty much within a hour's drive from each other. Situated a half-hour from the airport in Charlottetown, the island's ultimate trophy course is the Links at Crowbush Cove ($79-$99; 800-235-8909, golflinkspei.com), a brutal but beautiful 1994 Thomas McBroom design that sports frightfully quick greens, water hazards galore, an array of strategic bunkering and glimpses of coastal dunes along the island's north shore. The accompanying Rodd Crowbush Resort is the region's finest.
Just down the road is the more affordable, though nearly as strong Rodd Brudenell Resort (800-565-RODD, roddhotelsandresorts.com; two-night, two-round packages from $291 per person) with 45 holes. Two of the 18s are stellar: the rugged Dundarave layout is a 1999 Hurdzan-Fry design that stretches nearly 7,300 yards as it winds through pine forests and along the Brudenell River. The original Brudenell River course is more family friendly, though scenic and testing in its own right.
My husband and I have been taking golf vacations at the Lodge at Koele on Lanai, Hawaii. We enjoy playing the Experience at Koele because the resort golf course is rarely crowded (we usually play alone and sometimes two rounds per day) and the weather is cool and comfortable. We recently relocated from California to Florida and would like to find a new vacation spot that can be reached within a five-hour flight. Could you suggest an alternate resort and golf course with similar attributes?
Juno Beach, Fla.
It's almost refreshing to counsel someone looking for the best life has to offer, rather than simply the best bargains. Make no mistake: Travelin' Joe appreciates both -- but let's be honest here. White-glove, red-carpet pampering doesn't suck, and neither does an empty golf course. For an island experience, go with Sandy Lane Resort (246-444-2000, sandylane.com; 5-night golf & spa packages from $4,000) in the Barbados, West Indies. Its seclusion and emphasis on privacy and discretion borders on snobbery, but if you're looking for quiet, superior luxury, this is it. Tom Fazio's Green Monkey layout draws most of the accolades thanks to holes such as the downhill, par-3 16th, with its quarry and lake backdrop, along with the famous turf-monkey bunker. However, the sibling Country Club course, another Fazio design, was good enough to host the 2006 World Cup, won by Bernhard Langer and his partner, Marcel Siem.