This week our courses and travel expert Travelin' Joe Passov answers your questions on Vegas bargains, Portland's finest public golf, where to escape for the winter and even Iceland. Got a question about courses, travel or resorts? Visit our Facebook or Twitter page to send them our way.
John Spears (via Facebook): Besides Pinehurst #2, where else in Pinehurst should I try to play?
You could spend your entire stay at the Pinehurst Resort and not run out of appealing golf options, especially with the autumn 2017 debut of the Cradle par-3 course, architect Gil Hanse's petite playground in the Sandhills. Still, I might wait until later in 2018 to do that, when Hanse and Pinehurst debut a brand new version of Number 4.
If you're a trophy hunter (of classic golf courses) and wish to stay close by the charms of Pinehurst, don't miss Pine Needles and Mid Pines, 1920s-era siblings in Southern Pines designed by Donald Ross. Both reside high up in GOLF Magazine's Top 100 Courses You Can Play. Pine Needles grabs more of the glory, as it has been home to three U.S. Women's Opens since 1996, with Hall-of-Fame winners Annika Sorenstam, Karrie Webb and Cristie Kerr but Mid Pines is sneaky awesome, thanks to a marvelous restoration by Kyle Franz.
Another area course that occupies a lofty position in our Top 100 Courses You Can Play is the Dormie Club. Crafted atop rolling terrain with spectacular, sprawling bunkers and masterfully designed green complexes, courtesy of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, Dormie is a must-play—but play it soon, as new ownership has decreed that it will revert to all-private status in the not-too-distant future.
For a combination of pure quirk and pure fun, still another Top 100 Course You Can Play is Tobacco Road. Mike Strantz's innovative, and at times baffling creation boasts towering sandhills, remarkable variety in landscape shaping and some wild greens. Located in Sanford, it's a bit further out of town than the others on the list, so it works both as a top attraction due to its quality and distinctiveness, but also as extremely convenient if you're traveling to or from Raleigh-Durham.
Others I like that deliver excellent quality and value are Talamore in Southern Pines, a strong, yet graceful Rees Jones design, Legacy Golf Links in Aberdeen, a Jack Nicklaus II creation with one of the region's best closing holes and Mid South Club, an Arnold Palmer effort that not surprisingly features inspired risk/reward holes. There's good reason the Pinehurst/Southern Pines/Aberdeen CVB bills its region as the “Home of American Golf.” There's a boatload of fine tracks to tackle.
Adam Blake (via Facebook): I know what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, but what course would you recommend I play at a middle of the road price?
I've shouted from the rooftops until I'm hoarse about the virtues of OB Sports-managed Angel Park. I think it's the most fun day of golf in Las Vegas. Two solid Arnold Palmer 18s, the Mountain and the Palm (Of the two, I'd pick Mountain), plus lighted par-3 golf on its Cloud 9, 12-hole course, an all-grass putting course, a lighted, covered driving range, Golfboards, tasty food and drink—the works. Rates for the championship courses top out at $135 on weekend prime time of March, with most rack rates for outside play at $85-$110.
Another destination I like, that's slightly pricier, but worth the extra coin is Las Vegas Paiute Resort. The Wolf course is their premium play, but its first two courses, Sun Mountain and Snow Mountain, both under the Pete Dye banner are the better bargain, with prices that range from $85-$179, depending on day, time and season. Both courses dish out speedy greens, Dye-style hazards and handsome, in-your-face mountain views. During the week of high season (March-May/September-November), you'll pay $129 to play between 11 am and 2 pm. Hey, this is Vegas! You can make that money back in five minutes at the tables—or lose ten times that much.
Todd Jackson via Twitter: I need a good recommendation for a course in Portland, Oregon: Public or Private. Unfortunately, Pumpkin Ridge has a tournament the date we are planning to play so we need and alternative.
A recent restoration by Gil Hanse has elevated Waverley Country Club into the top tier of private clubs in the U.S. It has hosted more USGA events than any course in Oregon—seven—and most recently played host to the U.S. Senior Women's Amateur in 2017.
Other private courses worth calling in favors for are Columbia-Edgewater, a long-time LPGA Tour venue, Portland Golf Club, which was the setting for the 1946 PGA Championship and 1947 Ryder Cup and Oregon Golf Club, a Ken Kavanaugh/Peter Jacobsen collaboration that used to host the Fred Meyer Challenge.
On the public-access front, Reserve Vineyards' two courses (slight edge to the North), Langdon Farms and Heron Lakes' Great Blue line up as close seconds to Pumpkin Ridge, but my sleeper pick is an ancient $45 muni, Eastmoreland, that will wow you with charm and character.
Former NFL Pro Bowler Justin Tuck via Twitter: I need to take a golf vacation. Where should I go? Thoughts?
I need to take a golf vacation. Where should I go? Thoughts?— Justin Tuck (@JustinTuck) February 17, 2018
In response to the broadest question ever, I'm happy to provide a little guidance for Justin. If you're looking to head out in the next six weeks, and you'd like history, variety and major championship glory, park it at the Pinehurst Resort, and take a caddie to tackle the legendary Number 2 course. If you're in search of unforgettable golf on the ocean, with major tournament pedigree, Kiawah Island Golf Resort is ideal. For championship golf, superb instruction and solid nightlife nearby, Trump National Doral Miami is the ticket. And if you're more interested in something in a summer trip or something out west, write us back!
Andykalevar on Instagram: I'm going to Iceland in July. What do you have for my buddy and me?
Sunscreen—because at that latitude, you're not going to see much darkness at that time of year. Reykjavik Golf Club dishes out two fine courses, with the newer Korpa and the classic Grafarholt pretty much a coin flip. Still, the consensus picks are Keilir as best in show, with its stirring ocean vistas, followed by Vestmannaeyjar.