Category: Travelin Joe


February 06, 2014

A Meaner Monster: Donald Trump teams with architect Gil Hanse to make Doral scarier than ever

Posted at 11:21 AM by Pete Madden

By JOE PASSOV, Golf Magazine Senior Editor

Trump National Doral Miami
A rerouted fairway and added bunkers have enhanced the strategic appeal at the 442-yard, par-4 sixth at Doral in Miami. (Courtesy of Trump National Doral)

 

What do you say to a beast that's lost its bite? If you're Doral resort owner Donald Trump, that's easy: "You're fired." In the case of the legendary Blue Monster course at Doral, a better phrase might have been, "You're tired."

The Donald announced his solution at a memorable press conference in March 2013, on the eve of the WGC–Cadillac Championship. "They're saying the course is in the best shape [it's been in] in 25 years," he said. "It's a little ironic, because we blow it up on Monday."

Indeed, the Blue Monster, which opened in 1962, was due for a makeover. "Sometimes after 20, 30 years, courses need an update, and this course will benefit from it," said reigning U.S. Open champion Justin Rose. "It needs to get back to living up to its reputation as the Blue Monster."

Trump agreed, bringing aboard red-hot architect Gil Hanse and associate Jim Wagner to execute his vision. The results are instantly obvious.

Once marshmallow-soft, the par-5 opener has been stretched to nearly 600 yards and features a new pond to the right of the green. The rinky-dink par-3 15th now demands a watery carry to a peninsula green. The par-4 16th remains drivable for big bashers, but a new lake guarding the left side amplifies the risk/reward drama. Hanse wisely left the par-4 18th -- one of the Tour's most dramatic, difficult closers -- virtually unchanged.

In all, liquid peril looms on 14 holes, up from six. Water, water, everywhere. Why so much? To modernize and toughen up a track that dates to the JFK administration. Mission accomplished. With newly sharpened teeth, this Monster is scarier than ever.

Trump National Doral Miami (Blue Monster), Miami, Fla. 7,450 yards, par 72; Green fees: $270-$500; (305) 592-2030; trumpgolfdoral.com

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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

 

PACIFIC GROVE GOLF LINKS, Pacific Grove, Calif.

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.

WAILUA MUNICIPAL GOLF COURSE, Kauai, Hawaii

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

 

HIGHLAND LINKS GOLF COURSE, Truro, Mass.

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?

PALM BEACH PAR-3 GOLF COURSE, Palm Beach, Fla.

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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January 31, 2014

Hello, Dubai: Celebrating The Other Duel In The Desert

Posted at 4:10 PM by Mike Walker

By JOE PASSOV, Golf Magazine Senior Editor

Emirates Golf Club
The risk-reward eighth hole is one of the memorable tests that make the Emirates Golf Club Majilis Course worth a trip, Travelin' Joe Passov says. (Landmark Media)

 

Tiger Woods is competing in the wrong desert this week. I say that practically every year. I really wish he would play in my hometown event, the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he’s been absent since 2001. That said, after a recent trip to Dubai, I now at least understand Tiger’s attraction to the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. Sure the appeal of appearance money is undeniable, but Dubai’s enticements go well beyond the cash.

To be fair, coin of the realm is indeed what has shaped and elevated Dubai. Oil money and tourism has transformed a poker table-flat, sleepy fishing village on the Arabian Gulf into a staggering collection of skyscrapers, resort hotels, golf courses and shopping meccas. The most famous dwelling in Dubai these days is Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, 2,722 feet, with 163 floors. You might remember Tom Cruise hanging off its side in 2011’s “Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol.” The elevator ascent to the top is alarmingly swift; the dizzying view from the top will buckle your knees.

The legendary Burj Al Arab hotel is worth a tour, even if you’re not holed up there for the night. That’s the joint with the helicopter landing pad from which Tiger has launched golf balls and Roger Federer and Andre Agassi have swatted tennis balls. The Burj Al Arab’s lavish, grin-inducing excesses, including an aquarium and suites fit for sultans are colorful tributes to the joys of spending—much like the Dubai Mall, a mind-boggling monument to conspicuous consumption. No less opulent is the brand new JW Marriott Marquis Dubai, the world’s tallest hotel. Kudos to the superb service, convenient central business location, and especially to two of the greatest hotel restaurants in existence, Prime 68 Steakhouse (on the 68th floor) and especially the Rang Mahal by Atul Kochhar, for Indian cuisine nonpareil.

Still, I braved the 14-hour flight to Dubai not so much to eat and sleep, but to tee it up. The golf didn’t disappoint. Although Tiger’s first design went fallow before completion, recent arrivals from Ernie Els, Colin Montgomerie and Ian Baker-Finch—and one on the way via Donald Trump and Gil Hanse—complement the region’s two classics, Emirates Golf Club and Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club. Both are worth the journey.

Now 26 years old, the Emirates Golf Club is the undisputed anchor tenant in the Dubai golf mall. Its original layout, the Majlis, a 1988 Karl Litten creation, is where Tiger is plying his trade this week. Tabbed the “desert miracle,” owing to its nothing-to-something special rise, Majlis (Arabic for “meeting place”) is a superb test that embraces a nearly unique aesthetic. The 7,301-yard layout sports mature (25-year-old) trees, scrub-covered open desert areas and an ever-changing backdrop of skyscrapers new and old. Most memorable is the 459-yard, par-4 eighth, a slight uphill dogleg right that demands a bite-off-as-much-as-you-dare drive over desert scrub, followed by an approach straight at the kind of high-rises that would challenge Superman to leap over in a single bound.

What stands out if you’re a longtime European Tour viewer is the par-5 18th. A 564-yard, risk/reward temptress, this sharp dogleg left dishes out a nervy call on the second shot: whether or not to go for the shallow, hourglass-shaped green on the other side of a massive lake. When the shadows of the television tower lengthen in the late afternoon, it can be nerve-wracking putting down the green toward the water on Sunday of the Dubai Desert Classic. The unique Bedouin tent-style clubhouse beckons after the round.

Emirates’ second course, once known as Wadi (“Valley”), was reworked in 2006 by Nick Faldo and now bears his name. The Faldo is near-equal in challenge to the Majlis, if not in character, but it is lit for night play, a huge plus when the mercury soars.

Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club
The clubhouse and ninth green at Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club in the United Arab Emirates. (Getty Images)

 

Dubai Golf, the management and marketing entity that operates the Emirates Golf Club, also runs another excellent facility, Dubai Creek. Adjacent to the Park Hyatt Dubai (a luxury hotel that perfectly blends Western and Moorish influences and which sports handsome views of the marina), DubaI Creek furnishes a superior par-3 course—Rory McIlroy has sampled it—and a totally fun championship 18, more resort-y than Emirates Majlis, but no less fascinating. The finish is world-class, with the 354-yard 17th and the 421-yard 18th a pair of riveting par-4s that skirt the wide, boat-filled Dubai Creek. The daunting home hole features a backdrop of one of golf’s most distinctive clubhouses, which resembles the sails of an Arabic dhow.

Tiger, Rory, Henrik—I wish you were playing in Scottsdale this week. However, at long last, I understand why Dubai is so compelling.

January 14, 2014

Ask Travelin' Joe: Where should I play in Tucson? Savannah? Ponte Vedra Beach?

Posted at 10:03 AM by Pete Madden

By JOE PASSOV, Golf Magazine Senior Editor

La Paloma Country Club
Courtesy of La Paloma Country Club

 

Hello Joe, I'm headed to Tucson for a few days of Arizona sun and scenery. What courses give the most cacti for the money? -- Lana Neighbor, Ambler, Pa.

You have to stay at the Westin to play its on-site La Paloma Country Club ($59-$179; 520-742-6000, westinlapalomaresort.com), but its three early Jack Nicklaus nines are well worth it. Saguaro cacti frame the fairways, while mountain vistas highlight this target-style spread. In nearby Marana, another Jack Nicklaus Signature design, the Golf Club at Dove Mountain ($79-$199; 520-572-3500, thegolfclubatdovemountain.com), is blanketed with exotic desert flora. The WGC–Accenture Match Play is played on the Saguaro/Tortolita combo, though Jack's favorite of the three nines is Wild Burro. And Ventana Canyon's Mountain and Canyon courses ($59-$169; 520-577-1400, thelodgeatventanacanyon.com) embrace every manner of thorny plant, notably on the Mountain's par-3 third.

The Club at Savannah Harbor
The Club at Savannah Harbor / Dick Durrance

 

Dear Joe, I'm heading to Savannah, Georgia. Know of any gems off the beaten path? -- Sam R. Blair, via e-mail

Sam, maybe it's the shrimp and grits talking, but I think Savannah is one of the most charming cities in the U.S.—and great for golf. Start with The Club at Savannah Harbor ($40-$88; 912-201-2240, theclubatsavannahharbor.com), a dramatic Bob Cupp/Sam Snead design that's hosted the Champions Tour's Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf for the last 11 years. Most memorable is the 447-yard, par-4 sixth, with its green edged by marsh and backdropped by the Talmadge Bridge. The area's top value? A wooded Rees Jones design called Southbridge ($25-$50; 912-651-5455, southbridgegolfclub.com), which turns 25 this year. Meanwhile, the award for easiest access goes to bargain-priced Crosswinds ($34-$53; 912-966-1909, crosswindsgolfclub.com), renowned for its reachable yet watery par-5 closer, and for the club's location five minutes from the airport.

Streamsong Resort
Streamsong Resort / Larry Lambrecht

 

Hey Joe, Are there any quality links-style courses to play here in Florida? -- Bill Jervis, Tampa, Fla.

That's the easiest question I've heard in eons. Streamsong Resort ($110-$235; 863-428-1000, streamsongresort.com) is less than 90 minutes from Tampa and serves up two superior firm-and-fast, dune-splashed tracks that demand thoughtful shotmaking, with an emphasis on the ground game. Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw's Red is slightly more dramatic than Tom Doak's Blue, though I'm partial to the Blue for how seamlessly it hews to the terrain, and for stunners such as the all-carry par-3 seventh and the drivable par-4 13th. With the mid-January debut of the 216-room Lodge at Streamsong, there's no better time to go.

The Word Golf Village
Courtesy of The Word Golf Village

 

Travelin' Man, I'm playing the Stadium and Valley courses at TPC Sawgrass. Anywhere else I should tee it up in the Ponte Vedra Beach area? -- Mike Smith, via e-mail

Since you don't scrimp, Mike, I'll steer you to the region's trophy tracks. For a fun 36 holes, drive 45 minutes south to St. Augustine. The World Golf Village (904-201-3609, golfwgv.com) has two courses: King & Bear ($79-$169) is the only Arnold Palmer–Jack Nicklaus collaboration in existence, and the Slammer & Squire ($59-$129) is a wonderful Bobby Weed creation, with help from Sam Snead and Gene Sarazen. King & Bear's back nine winds through loblolly pines and ancient oaks, while Slammer & Squire sports lagoons, wetlands and a wet-and-wild par-4 closer. My favorite combo of golf and lodging in the area is the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club and its Ocean course ($75-$132.50; 888-839-9145, pontevedra.com), a wonderfully renovated treat that trots out cross bunkers, ocean breezes and an island green dating to the 1920s.

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.

For more news that golfers everywhere are talking about, follow @si_golf on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube video channel.

January 06, 2014

Budget Breaks: Pop the cork on great golf deals in 2014

Posted at 12:10 PM by Pete Madden

By JOE PASSOV, Golf Magazine Senior Editor

Innisbrook
Credit: Courtesy of Innisbrook, a Salamander Golf and Spa Resort

 

SAVE $120: Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club Palm Harbor, Fla.

Don't get snake-bit this winter. Try Innisbrook's Tour-tested Copperhead course -- and its 54 other holes -- with the Classic Golf Package. It includes lodging, one round per golfer per night, $10 retail credit, unlimited practice and fitness facility use, and club storage. January rates start at $458 per room, per night, based on double occupancy. 888-794-8627, innisbrookgolfresort.com

SAVE $105: Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail [Grand National] Opelika, Ala.

Already one of the best deals in golf, Alabama's Robert Trent Jones Trail is an even bigger bargain with its Winter Unlimited Package. Available at all sites except Lakewood and Ross Bridge [with a $10 surcharge for the Judge at Capitol Hill], the package gets you all the golf you can play in January for $75 per day. Price includes cart and unlimited range balls. 800-949-4444, rtjgolf.com

SAVE $115: Omni Amelia Island Plantation Amelia Island, Fla.

Pete Dye and protégé Bobby Weed crafted 36 holes at Amelia -- including a fistful that skirt the Atlantic Ocean. The Stay and Play Package offers ocean-view lodging and one round at $100 per person -- with a second round, rental clubs and a $40 beverage-cart credit free. January rates start at $319 per room, per night, based on double occupancy. 904-261-6161, omnihotels.com

SAVE $105: The Biltmore Hotel Coral Gables, Fla.

Its venerable Donald Ross design -- not to mention legendary swimming pool -- made the Biltmore one of Babe Ruth's favorite hangouts. See it yourself with the Hole-in-One Package, which includes lodging, unlimited golf, and practice facility use. January rates start at $589 per night, based on double occupancy. 855-311-6903, biltmorehotel.com

For more news that golfers everywhere are talking about, follow @si_golf on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube video channel.

December 01, 2013

Ask Travelin' Joe: From One Fine Bay to Another

Posted at 10:49 AM by Pete Madden

By JOE PASSOV, Golf Magazine Senior Editor

TPC Harding Park
TPC Harding Park / Getty Images

 

Dear Joe: I'm heading out to San Francisco and I have three days to squeeze in a couple of rounds. What are your recommendations? -- Kyle McKearney, via email

There's iconic TPC Harding Park ($155-$175; 415-664-4690, tpc.com/tpc-harding-park), the foggy, cypress-lined home of the 2005 WGC-American Express Championship (won by Tiger Woods) and the 2009 Presidents Cup. A heads up: On December 1, after it hosts the Champions Tour's season-ending Schwab Cup, Harding's greens will get a face-lift. This means you'll have 18 temporaries (along with a deep discount on green fees) through March. Until then, Presidio Golf Club ($110-$145; 415-561-4653, presidiogolf.com) is your best option. This hilly challenge is a bear to walk, but it compensates with imposing pines and some fun shotmaking challenges. And be sure to check out Lincoln Park ($38-$55; 415-221-9911, sfrecpark.org). This quaint, 5,146-yard muni is more about the postcard (as in amazing views) than the scorecard, with a dazzling glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge on the par-3 17th.

Redstone Golf Club
Redstone Golf Club / Larry Lambrecht

 

Yo Joe: I'm heading down to Houston in late November to catch a college football game. Where should I tee it up? -- Jake Davidson, Cincinnati, Ohio

There's nothing like college pigskin in the Lone Star State. After you watch your Cincinnati Bearcats battle the Houston Cougars, check out Redstone's Tournament course ($125-$175; 281-459-7800, redstonegolfclub.com) in suburban Humble. Host to the PGA Tour's Shell Houston Open, this Rees Jones creation is a bomber's paradise. It's long, wide and watery. Phil Mickelson and Hunter Mahan are among the recent winners. Closer to downtown (and to Rice Stadium, where you'll watch the game), you'll find Memorial Park ($39-$49; 713-559-2000, memorialparkgolf.com), a flattish, well-treed, 7,300-yarder that boasts some history of its own -- 14 Houston Opens were contested here between 1947 and 1963, with Arnold Palmer claiming the crown in 1957. It's a score either way, so why not go for two?

Orange Lake Golf Resort
Courtesy of Orange Lake Golf Resort

 

Hey Joe: My wife and I are older golfers and fairly new to the game. We want to take a vacation, ideally to a moderately priced place with good instruction. Ideas? -- John and Pat Morello, via email

With December closing in faster than a one-horse sleigh, I direct you to the Sunshine State, specifically Orange Lake Golf Resort (407-239-1050, orangelake.com) in Kissimmee, just south of Orlando and three miles from Disney. If you're feeling ambitious, there are two championship 18s on-site, as well as a pair of beginner-friendly nines, first-rate practice facilities and excellent instruction (we rank the McCord Golf Academy as one of the 25 Best in the U.S.). With December lodging rates that begin at $99/night, for pure value, this Orange is very sweet.

Dear Travelin' Man: I'm taking the family to Pensacola, Fla. I'd like a break from the beach and plan to hit the links for a day. Any diamonds in the rough under $70? -- Dave Gardner, Louisville, Ky.

Value on the Emerald Coast is as prevalent as the sugary-white beaches. My top pick is Kiva Dunes ($64.50-$92; 251-540-7000, kivadunes.com) across the border in Gulf Shores, Alabama. It's a superb, linksy Jerry Pate design between Mobile Bay and the Gulf, with afternoon rates of less than $70 in December. Just one catch: It's more than an hour's drive away. If that's too much of a haul, try Tiger Point ($40-$50; 850-932-1333, tigerpointgolf.com), 12 miles from Pensacola in Gulf Breeze. Its Jerry Pate-designed East course offers water on 14 holes and views of Santa Rosa Sound. I'm also a fan of Sandestin, about an hour to the east. The Baytowne course ($54-$89; 850-267-8155, sandestin.com) charges $54-$74 during the winter and features what passes for an elevation change in the Panhandle, along with kid-friendly tees and rental clubs -- so bring the wee ones and wipe away the guilt.

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.

For more news that golfers everywhere are talking about, follow @si_golf on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube video channel.

November 24, 2013

Deal of the Month: Royal Isabela in Puerto Rico

Posted at 3:56 PM by Pete Madden

By JOE PASSOV, Golf Magazine Senior Editor

Royal Isabela
Credit: Joann Dost

 

Draped atop rugged cliffs in northwest Puerto Rico, 75 miles west of San Juan, Royal Isabela dishes out a stunning (if ferocious) 7,667-yard par-73 replete with soaring Atlantic vistas. The 435-yard, par-4 12th and 200-yard, par-3 17th, which peer over the beach, are two of the hardest, most spectacular holes I've played. Pack an extra dozen balls -- and throw in another sleeve, just in case. Fortunately, Royal Isabela soothes in so many ways. On my visit, Rafael Bernaloa and his team of bartenders wiped away my double-bogey blues with a tropical-drink class, and head pro Miguel Suárez Igartúa patched up my swing at his academy. Toss in superior dining at La Casa and lodging in a huge one-bedroom casita, and you have the ultimate secluded seaside golf escape.

This month, the resort is offering a special to Travelin' Joe readers: one free round with each 3 night/4 day stay at regular rates. December rates start at $800 per casita, including breakfast for two. 855-609-5888, royalisabela.com

For more news that golfers everywhere are talking about, follow @si_golf on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube video channel.

November 20, 2013

Best Trips: Sewailo Golf Club in Tucson, Ariz.

Posted at 1:06 PM by Pete Madden

By JOE PASSOV, Golf Magazine Senior Editor

Sewailo Golf Club
Credit: D Squared Productions

 

It's been four long years since a new course opened in golf-crazy Arizona. As it turns out, good things are worth waiting for. Sewailo Golf Club was built as an amenity for the Casino del Sol Resort in Tucson. In the Native American language of Yaqui, "sewailo" translates to "flower world," and this Ty Butler-Notah Begay co-design lives up to that name.

If you're looking for a cactus-lined, target-style track, you won't find it here; instead, you'll play through a kaleidoscope of year-round floral displays. White and pink roses, yellow brittlebush and purple sage from a stunning palette, while cottonwood, pine and willow trees (which are important in Pascua Yaqui tribal ceremonies) dot the course.

Still, pretty colors won't entirely ease the menace of the seven elegant yet daunting lakes and interlocking streams that dominate the layout, influencing play on half the holes. All that water makes its presence felt, most memorably on a trio of handsome but stern tests: the 145-yard par-3 third, the 620-yard, double-dogleg par-5 10th and the 390-yard par-4 18th.

Happily, it's not all punishment. Sewailo sets itself apart from its sandy competitors in town with roomy fairways and bentgrass greens, as well as a casino and mountain backdrop. Slated for a mid-December opening, Sewailo is sure to seduce parched desert-dwellers eager for a touch of the tropics.

7,282 yards, par-72; Green fees: $69-$149; (855) 765-7289; www.solcasinos.com

For more news that golfers everywhere are talking about, follow @si_golf on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube video channel.

November 03, 2013

Ask Travelin' Joe: From Ragin' Cajuns to Mickey Mouse

Posted at 12:40 PM by Pete Madden

By JOE PASSOV, Golf Magazine Senior Editor

Gray Plantation
Gray Plantation, Credit: Aidan Bradley

 

Dear Joe: I'll be taking a trip to Lake Charles, La., to visit family. I plan on playing at least one day while there. What area courses would you recommend? -- Mike Haig, Chicago, Ill.

I've got two top choices for you in Cajun country, one of my favorite places to play in the USA. First, a value-favorite: Gray Plantation ($35-$59; 337-562-1663, graywoodllc.com) is a handsome, well-treed track that features water, water everywhere. Bring an extra sleeve or two; you can lose ammo on 12 holes, including the tough par-3 sixth, which demands a shot over the Calcasieu Ship Channel to a peninsula green. If you want to roll the dice after rolling the rock, try Tom Fazio's Contraband Bayou at nearby L'Auberge Casino Resort ($39-$109; 337-395-7220, llakecharles.com). This 7,077-yard par 71 features superb Bermuda greens, Fazio's striking bunkers and eight lakes throughout the layout.

Bulle Rock
Bulle Rock, Credit: Evan Schiller

 

Hi Joe: I'll be in Annapolis for one day, flying into Baltimore, with time for a quick round. I prefer a quality layout with great conditioning. Where should I play? -- Ed Cadenas, via e-mail

Ed, cracking blue crabs is my first priority when I'm down Chesapeake way, with golf being a (very) close second. Bulle Rock ($79-$130; 888-285-5375, bullerock.com) in Havre de Grace is my first choice. True, it's an hour north of the airport, but with a ranking of No. 41 on our 2012-'13 Top 100 Courses You Can Play list, it's worth the journey. Bulle is a true bully (and it's pronounced that way, too). This danger-laden Pete Dye stunner has hosted the LPGA Championship five times, with Annika Sorenstam, Se Ri Pak and Suzann Pettersen among those hoisting the trophy. Conditioning? It's kept in tournament shape all year round. If you prefer something closer to Baltimore, try Waverly Woods ($54-$84; 410-313-9182, waverlywoods.com) an Arthur Hills course just a 20-minute drive from Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

Hi Joe: While my kids are at Disney World, I have time for some peace and quiet on the course. I've already played Grand Cypress, a great pick. What's next? -- Luis M. Rivera, via e-mail

I don't blame you for resisting the siren call of the Mouse -- there's plenty of golf to play. I agree with Tiger, who once called the greens at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club Orlando, Grande Lakes ($60-$180; 407-393-4900, grandelakes.com) some of the best he's ever putted. Although this Greg Norman design is runway wide and flat, it's also truly tranquil, offering just the serenity you're seeking. You might also consider Rees Jones's Waldorf Astoria Golf Club ($50-$170; 407-597-3780, waldorfastoriaorlando.com). Hewn from pristine woodlands, it's only about three miles from Disney and offers strategic resort golf at its best. Right at the park, consider Disney's Magnolia Course ($104-$165; 407-939-4653, disneyworldgolf.com). Don't let the hokey, mouse-ear-shaped bunker fool you—for 40 years, this track was tough enough to be a PGA Tour stop. At 7,500 yards, it's hardly child's play.

Sedona Golf Resort
Sedona Golf Resort, Credit: Evan Schiller

 

Dear Joe: I'm planning a trip to Scottsdale this November, but lots of courses will be overseeding. Any way around that? -- Scott Gentry, Tulsa, Okla.

If they're overseeding, head north over the hills to Sedona. The town has quaint charms that dear old Scottsdale can't match, and at 4,500 feet of elevation, there's no need to overseed; the courses have cool-season grasses. Both Sedona Golf Resort ($69-$99; 928-284-9355, sedonagolfresort.com) and Oakcreek ($79-$99; 928-284-1660, oakcreekcountryclub.com) will dazzle you with red-rock landscapes. Seven Canyons ($100-$150; 928-203-2000, sevencanyons.com) is beautiful, too, but it's only open to guests of Enchantment Resort.

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.

For more news that golfers everywhere are talking about, follow @si_golf on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube video channel.

October 31, 2013

Deal of the Month: The Resort at Pelican Hill in Newport Coast, Calif.

Posted at 12:48 PM by Pete Madden

By JOE PASSOV, Golf Magazine Senior Editor

The Resort at Pelican Hill
Credit: Jay D. Jenks / Courtesy of The Resort at Pelican Hill

 

For most of my stay here, I simply couldn't stop smiling. Why?

Let me count the ways. The ocean views are spectacular. The service is superb. If you like celebrity-spotting, simply settle in beside the retro-cool pool. The Pelican Grill is one of the great 19th holes, and the spa is an excellent place to recover after your round. As for golf, there are two Tom Fazio layouts along the Pacific Ocean, and a Top 100 Teacher, Glenn Deck. (Thanks for the putting tip, Glenn -- it's still working!)

Come checkout time, the cost will wipe the smile off your face. Perfection is pricey. But there are ways to trim the tab. If you have a lot of rounds in mind, consider the Fazio Unlimited Package, which covers Bungalow or Villa lodging and all-you-can-play access to three courses. (There's another Fazio at nearby Oak Creek.) Carts, club rental, forecaddies and valet parking are also part of the package.

Rates start at $835 per night, with a two-night minimum stay; (888) 802-1777, pelicanhill.com

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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.


 

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