Category: Worth Your Money

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



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.


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



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?


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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February 05, 2013

Worth Your Money: Grayhawk Golf Club, the Southwest's coolest course

Posted at 5:06 PM by
Sure, you'd love to while away a week in Pebble Beach or St. Andrews, but maybe it's not in your budget. These days you might be looking for destinations that make sense for both your game and your wallet. That in mind, we've started a weekly feature on called "Worth Your Money," where Golf Magazine's travel editors recommend a destination that combines great golf and great value. This week, we check out Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz. 


The eighth hole at the Raptor Course at Grayhawk Golf Club.

More PGA Tour pros may hang out at ultra-private Whisper Rock, but Grayhawk remains the coolest option for visiting amateurs in Scottsdale, both for the golf and atmosphere. Rock music still drifts out onto the driving range from speakers inside fake boulders, and multiple on-site food venues will fill you up quickly. Grayhawk’s Talon course, ranked seventh in Golf Magazine’s Best Public Courses in Arizona, is the older (by a year) layout and has the more unique par 3s, while the Raptor course, designed by Tom Fazio, hosted a PGA Tour event from 2007-09. Which one to play? Both. Especially since booking 36 holes at a time can save you up to $130 from now until the end of March., 480-502-1800


Fairmont Scottsdale Princess: This sprawling resort next door to TPC Scottsdale has a full range of first-class amenities, from dining (La Hacienda or Bourbon Steak) and nightlife (the Plaza Bar) to relaxation (Willow Stream Spa). Between Feb. 1 and April 30, you can book the “25th Anniversary Summer Early Special” and receive a $125 discount room rate and $25 food/beverage credit for stays between Memorial Day Monday through Labor Day Monday (special rate code is 2U8EBR). $169-$499,, 480-585-4848

Westin Kierland Resort & Spa: A short walk outside the back door of this 12-story resort are 27 holes; air-cooling misters in the carts and on the range; and an expansive practice facility, featuring the academy of Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Mike LaBauve. The resort’s Unlimited Golf package for two (including accommodations) costs $449 per night through March 31; $349 April 1 - May 23; and $179 May 24 – Sept. 9., 480-624-1000.


Isabella’s: With views of the 10th and 18th holes on Grayhawk’s Talon Course (and the adjacent practice area), this casual dining spot opened last fall. Perfect spot for post-round drink, plus an Italian-themed menu. 480-502-3100,

Brat Haus: Located on the southern edge of Old Town Scottsdale, this newcomer is for meat lovers who like to wash down tasty brats, burgers and Belgian fries with craft beers in an outdoor setting. 480-947-4006,

November 06, 2012

Worth Your Money: Black Mesa Golf Club in New Mexico

Posted at 12:11 AM by Mike Walker

Tired of hearing about how great a golf trip to Pebble Beach or St. Andrews is? No kidding. These days we're looking for a golf trip that makes sense for our games and our budgets. So we've started a weekly feature on called "Worth Your Money" where Golf Magazine's travel editors find a destination that combines great golf and great value. This week, we check out Black Mesa Golf Club in New Mexico.


The 12th hole at Black Mesa Golf Club. John and Jeannine Henebry; 7,307; par 72. Greens fees: $62-$82

The wild sweep of the fairways is reminiscent of an Irish links. But the surrounding sandstone foothills serve as a reminder: you’re golfing in the high desert of New Mexico. That hybrid quality—an inland course that feels as raw and windswept as a seaside layout—is a large part of the charm of the Baxter Spann layout, which sits within a short shot of Santa Fe but feels as remote as Bandon Dunes.

From the first hole, an unapologetic par 4 that requires a blind tee shot over a grassy ridge, you’re struck by the layout’s natural lilt, as well as its peaceful sense of isolation. There are no houses, no hum from highway traffic. Even the cart paths are unpaved, a rustic touch on a course that is better suited to walking anyway.

From the top of the 16th, a mildly controversial par 5 that rushes up a steep slope to the most severely contoured green on the course, the views appear unending, a big sky spreading all around. You may or may not see another golfer.


Hotel Santa Fe. Comfortable, convenient accommodations in the heart of downtown Santa Fe. From $182,

The Inn and Spa at Loretto. AAA-Four-Diamond property that pays homage to the region’s Native American traditions, its rooms appointed in black, red, white and gold of Anasazi pottery. From $150,

The Bishop’s Lodge Ranch Resort & Spa. A relaxing retreat set on 450 acres at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, ringed by lawns and towering cottonwoods. Rooms from $172,


Black Mesa Steakhouse. Prime rib, seafood, polished service and a sprawling wine list. ‘Nuff said.

El Paragua. House-made tamales and tortillas highlight a menu of traditional Mexican and New Mexican cuisine. Gabriels. Sizzling fajitas, mesquite grilles scallops and guacamole, prepared table-side.

--From the editors of Golf Magazine

October 31, 2012

Worth Your Money: Forest Dunes Golf Club in Northern Michgan

Posted at 12:16 PM by

Tired of hearing about how great a golf trip to Pebble Beach or St. Andrews is? No kidding. These days we're looking for a golf trip that makes sense for our games and our budgets. So we've started a weekly feature on called "Worth Your Money," where Golf Magazine's travel editors find a destination that combines great golf and great value. This week, we check out Forest Dunes in Michigan.


The third hole at Forest Dunes Golf Club. Larry Lambrecht, par 72; 7,104 yards. Greens fees: $59-$149

Like the state’s auto industry, this superb but secluded Michigan track has experienced cycles of boom and bust. Built in 1999, it soon fell into foreclosure, only to be bought by the Detroit Carpenters’ Pension Trust Fund, which harbored plans to turn it into a private club. That the Tom Weiskopf design remains public is a boon to anyone who makes the 90-minute woodsy drive from the nearest airport in Traverse City to a course that lives up to both parts of its name, spilling through pine trees on the front nine before opening on the back into a sandy dunescape. Doglegs work every which way, and decisions haunt you from start to finish. Known for his nifty short par 4s, Weiskopt does his reputation proud on the 302-yard 17th, aptly dubbed “Wild Dunes” for the features that define it. In addition to a grand clubhouse, Forest Dunes also sports a 15-acre practice facility. After the journey it takes to get there, you’ll want to take your sweet time before heading back home.


Forest Dunes. Stay-and-play packages, with lodging in one of six on-site guests homes, each of which sleeps four-to-six. $149 per person.

Ray’s Retreat Country Inn.

A 17-unit motel with well-kept rooms and a complimentary hot pancake-and-sausage breakfast. From $50. Marsh Ridge. Options range from individual rooms and suites and deluxe townhouse accommodations in the form of a four-bedroom Scandinavian-style lodge. From $79.


Bennethums Northern Inn Restaurant. Hearty, seasonal American cuisine with a specialty menus that changes every month.

Alpine Tavern & Eatery. Brisket, burgers, pizzas, pasta and assorted tavern-style dishes.

Big Buck Brewery and Steakhouse. Very good beef. Very good handcrafted brew.

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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