Category: Utah

June 25, 2011

Ask Travelin' Joe: San Diego; Raleigh; St. George, Utah; and Tybee Island, Ga.

Posted at 8:29 AM by Joe Passov

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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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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,, 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, 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, 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,, 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,, a 1989 Rees Jones creation, is the area's best value, while Crosswinds ($23.50-$51.50; 912-966-0674, 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)

June 03, 2011

Ask Travelin' Joe: Park City, Utah; Orlando and Scottsdale in late June

Posted at 12:10 AM by Joe Passov

If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at

Grayhawk_talon_372x248 Dear Joe,
What courses are still going to be in good shape in greater Scottsdale in late June?
M. Kneck
Via email

Courses in the hot box that is Scottsdale in late June are generally in surprisingly good shape. The Bermuda that came in during the spring is good-looking and plays great. The wilting comes as the nights get hotter and when the monsoons arrive in mid- to late July. Golf in Arizona can be hellish for some at that time of year, but for others, it’s heaven, thanks to the bargain basement prices at five-star properties. Here are a few suggestions:

I have to tip my hat the TPC Scottsdale (480-585-4334, for some innovative marketing. Start with their 36-hole Summer Special, good for the month of June, where $99 will get you a morning round over the recently re-designed Champions course and an afternoon romp on the famous Stadium, home to the rowdiest galleries in golf every January when the PGA Tour’s Waste Management Phoenix Open stops by. If you can’t stand the heat—well, that much heat—you can sign up for a $120 deal where you have five days to play both courses.

I’m also a fan of Grayhawk’s (480-502-1800, Penguin promotion, where $55 gets you golf at one of two Tour-tested courses, cart, practice balls and lunch or dinner at Phil’s Grill, Quill Creek Café or on the course. The Tom Fazio-designed Raptor has a superb finish, but the Graham-Panks-designed Talon is equally memorable.

Finally, for a short, one-hour road trip that delivers you into the kind of Wild West you remember from John Wayne movies, try Rancho de los Caballeros (928-684-5484, in Wickenburg. It’s just $49 for golf, cart and lunch and the rollicking ride through the desert will test both clubs and camera. Horseback riding gets equal billing with the golf at this wonderful small resort, so saddle up and enjoy.

Dear Joe,
My wife and I are headed to Park City, Utah in June. Where should I play? The only price restriction is that it cannot cost more than the two massages that my wife is getting. Thanks for your input.
Winston-Salem, N.C.

The miniscule price for great golf in the Park City area will loosen up those neck and back muscles for certain. For your splurge, tee it up at Victory Ranch ($150; 435-735-5030,, a 7,599-yard, 2009 Rees Jones creation that is a wall-to-wall thrill ride from start to finish. Opened as a private club, Victory Ranch’s real estate and private memberships faced a tough economy out of the blocks, so recently, they’ve moved to a “club guest” program, where members for a day can pay the green fee and play.

New manager OB Sports has smoothed out the rough edges and has it in tip-top shape, the better to enjoy this mostly treeless mountain track that meanders atop rock ridges, plunges through canyons and serves up panoramas of the Wasatch and Uinta Mountains, streams and the Jordanelle Reservoir. Is it worth one and a half Franklins? Yes, if you want scenic overload and shotmaking memories for a lifetime.

Almost tragically, the vast majority of Park City golf is strictly private. Among the superb set-ups are Promontory, Glenwild, Red Ledges and Talisker at Tuhaye. Nevertheless, you’re in luck. Within 11 miles of Park City are four of the best public bargains in the U.S., the Lake and Mountain courses at Wasatch Mountain State Park (435-654-0532, and Soldier Hollow's (435-654-7442, two tracks, the Gold and Silver. Each is only $40 to play and that includes the cart. In particular, the Gene Bates-designed Gold at Soldier Hollow, which plays host to the USGA’s Amateur Public Links Championship in 2012, is a stunner at 7,598 elevated yards, with incredible views of Heber Valley and Mt. Timpanogos.

Dear Joe,
In June, I will be in Orlando, Florida for a week. What do you suggest for a 15-year-old with a 15 handicap? $20-$60 is my price range.
Andrew A.

Florida golf prices are at lowest ebb during summer, so go be a 15-year-old and play all day! Start with Falcon’s Fire (407-239-5445,, a totally fun, Marriott-managed, Rees Jones design that was refurbished in 2010. Mounds, water hazards (memorably at the banana-shaped, 379-yard, par-4 13th) and fast, intriguingly contoured greens are highlights. Best of all, Falcon Fire’s Junior (16-and under) rate is a smokin’ $35.

A second reasonably priced favorite in O-Town is MetroWest ($49-$59; 407-299-1099,, another Marriott Golf property, which sits just minutes from Universal Studios Orlando. There’s something about this 1984 Robert Trent Jones Sr. design that just agrees with me, from the Master’s familiar hazard-guarded, elevated greens, to the unusual rolling (for Florida) terrain to, well, the price tag.

Finally, you can’t be a kid in Orlando and not pay your respects to Mickey, so let’s get you over to Disney World (407-939-4653, for a summer golf buffet. During June, all four of Disney’s championship tests are $59 to play between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. and $49 after 3. As a 15-handicap, you’ve definitely got enough game to handle the Magnolia, which hosts the final round of a PGA Tour event every year. Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods have both won here, but Magnolia is best known for its watery finish and for its bunker at the par-3 6th, shaped in the image of Mickey Mouse’s ears.

Many contend that the Palm is every bit as good—or better—than Magnolia, while I’m of the opinion that the Tom Fazio-designed Osprey Ridge is best of the bunch. However, if you’re playing alone, call ahead for walking policies. Most courses aren’t in the habit of renting golf carts to 15-year-olds.

For a pure muni experience where you can walk and pretty much wear what you want, try Dubsdread ($25-$61; 407-246-2551,, a former Tour site that dates to 1924. Juniors (17 and under) pay $16 to walk during the week, $20 on the weekend and another $8 bucks for a cart—but you’ve got to show a valid driver’s license to get one. Try a $6 pullcart instead.

March 12, 2009

Ask Travelin Joe: Northern Ireland and Utah

Posted at 11:44 AM by Joe Passov

If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at

Dear Joe,
A group of us travel to Ireland annually, but this is the first time we'll be visiting Northern Ireland. Besides Royal County Down, Portrush, Portstewart and Castlerock, we have one extra day to play. Between Ardglass and Ballycastle, which would you recommend?

John Lee, Washington Township, N.J.

Definitely Ardglass ($35-$82;, where three new holes elevate a once cramped layout. Even local boy David Feherty agrees. In Larry Lambrecht's great book on Irish golf, Emerald Gems, he says of Ardglass: "Some of the holes have a linksy feel to them, while the inland holes tend to have more of a pasture-like turf. It's kind of a sheep-versus-cattle thing, if you know what I mean, and if you don't, then jump at the opportunity to play it."

Another worthy option is the Valley Links at Royal Portrush ($50-$58;

Hello, Joe,
Our foursome is thinking about Utah for our spring break golf weekend. Can you talk us into giving up our Arizona security blanket?

Greg King, Plymouth, Minn.

Utah's St. George region is pretty enticing. You've got to stay to play, but Entrada at Snow Canyon ($100-$165; 435-634-7100, is worth the splurge.

Best among public tracks is scenic and playable Coral Canyon ($78-$103; 435-688-1700,, while Sand Hollow Resort ($50-$125; 435-656-4653,, boasts a back nine through red rock cliffs that's guaranteed to mesmerize.

Photo: Utah's Sand Hollow Resort.
Credit: Hunter PR

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


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