By JOE PASSOV, Golf Magazine Senior Editor
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.
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.
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.
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 [email protected].