The home hole on We-Ko-Pa's Saguaro Course.
Lonna Tucker/We-Ko-Pa Golf Club
Thursday, October 15, 2009

One of the very fine confluences of life is the fact that baseball's spring training sites are all located in beautiful, warm places that are stacked with good golf. You can watch the boys of summer — savvy vets, rookies and bushers alike — and then get in a little training of your own. Here's your golfer's guide to spring training.



\nBest Public Course: We-Ko-Pa Golf Club (480-836-9000,; $175-$195) runs neck and neck with Troon North for top dog in the valley, but with no homes or roads obstructing the views and a greens fee that can be $100 cheaper, We-Ko-Pa's 36 holes get the nod.

\nBest Bang For Your Buck: Longbow Golf Club (480-807-5400,; $135-$155) features Red Mountain as a backdrop and is just east of HoHoKam Stadium, where the Cubbies play. Book online and you can score a prime tee time for $99.

\nBest You Can Play That You've Never Heard Of: Southern Dunes Golf Club (480-367-8949,; $129) Built in 2002 as a private men's club, this Schmidt-Curley/Fred Couples design is now public and affordable, and it sports fescue-framed fairways.


\nBest Public Course: Ventana Canyon's Mountain Course (520-577-1400,; $100-$175) is famous for its par-3 third "Hole in the Wall," which calls for a drop shot to a tiny green in a cactus-studded canyon. The other 17 holes aren't bad, but the 107-yard third will linger.

\nBest Bang For Your Buck: Randolph North (520-791-4161,; $41-$72) is a classic muni that has hosted the PGA, LPGA and Champions Tours over the years. It's not exactly classic desert terrain, but plenty of water hazards, a walk-on rate of $44 and next-door access to Hi Corbett Field, where the Rockies prep for those crazy late-season surges, make Randolph a good buy.

\nBest You Can Play That You've Never Heard Of: On the northwest side of town at the base of the towering Santa Catalina and Tortolita Mountains, Vistoso Golf Club (520-797-9900,; $89-$145) is a Tom Weiskopf design full of natural washes, deep bunkers and risk/reward options. If you wait until 1 p.m. to play, it's $89.


Southwest Florida

\nBest Public Course: Ernie Els has called Innisbrook's Copperhead course (727-942-2000,; $200-$245), "the best course the PGA Tour visits in Florida." Normally reserved for resort guests, you can play with a valid USGA GHIN handicap. And Innisbrook is perfectly situated for Yankees, Phillies and Blue Jays fans.

\nBest Bang For Your Buck: Developed as a private club north of Tampa, Cheval Golf and Country Club's (813-948-2114,; $30-$45) website discreetly "invites you to play at Cheval as a Member for a Day." Don't turn this one down. This Steve Smyers redesign has water on 17 holes, and 100 bunkers for less than the cost of 10 hot dogs.

\nBest You Can Play That You've Never Heard Of: Old Corkscrew Golf Club (239-949-4700,; $135-$180), is in Estero, just south of Ft. Myers and Cape Coral — and just a sac fly for Twins and Red Sox fans. Make sure to bring your big bat — this 7,393-yard Jack Nicklaus core design has a formidable rating/slope of 76/142.

\nCentral Florida (Orlando)

\nBest Public Course: Bay Hill is still King in these parts, but that's a stay-to-play deal, so instead steer your rental car to Disney World's Osprey Ridge (407-939-4653,; $139-$174), a Tom Fazio affair with big, fun greens. It's also practically in the bullpen of Champion Stadium, where the Braves play ball.

\nBest Bang For Your Buck: Green and bunker renovations completed in January make Falcon's Fire Golf Club (407-239-5445,; $99-$129) a terrific value. Designed by Rees Jones, it's $69 after 2 p.m. and only 10 minutes from Osceola Stadium, aka Astros Country.

\nBest You Can Play That You've Never Heard Of: The Deltona Club (386-789-4911,; $38-$48), formerly Deltona Hills, is basking in the afterglow of a Bobby Weed makeover. It's 30 miles north of Orlando, away from the baseball, but for muni-style prices and brilliant bunkering, it's worth the haul.

\nSoutheast Florida

\nBest Public Course: The Wanamaker (nee South) course at PGA Golf Club (800-800-4653,; $60-$109) is an Audubon-certified, 1996 Tom Fazio design. Steep bunkers and a par-4 closer guaranteed to crucify slicers will make fans of the Mets — who practice getting injured a few miles away at Tradition Field — feel right at home.

\nBest Bang For Your Buck: The Dye course at PGA Golf Club (800-800-4653,; $60-$109) is Pete Dye-lite: same great taste as his other top courses, but a third fewer "others" on your scorecard. Bonus: The two Fazio courses at PGA Village get heavier play, so you should buzz around the Dye.

\nBest You Can Play That You've Never Heard Of: North Palm Beach Country Club (561-691-3433,; $85-$125) sounds like a snobfest, and it was 100 years ago. Today, it's a spiffy 2006 Jack Nicklaus redesign that he did for $1 — a way of giving back to his adopted hometown. Old St. Jack also gave them an extra 800 yards and two holes on the Intracoastal Waterway, just south of Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, home of the Cards and the Marlins.

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