It only takes one wrinkle a stolen passport or a lost bag to turn your golf trip from a fiesta into a fiasco. Once you've settled the basics (where to play and stay), spend time preparing for the most common emergencies that can spoil things, especially if you're traveling overseas. "Preparing ahead of time will allow you to mitigate any problems that arise," says Amy Ziff, advice columnist for travel web site Travelocity. Here's how to handle five common snags.Lost Passport
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The only things that tend to go fast in Southern California are televised car chases, but try Encinitas Ranch ($72-$92; 760- 944-1936), just north of La Jolla. If things are slow, at least you've got great ocean views. Or you can drive 30 minutes inland to Barona Creek ($80-$110; 619-387- 7018), an excellent casino-resort course with firm, fast greens.
"Leave the gun, take the cannoli," Clemenza said in The Godfather. In the Keys, you should leave the sticks, take the sunscreen. Ocean Reef in Key Largo offers two solid courses, but it's strictly for stay-and-play deals. Key West Golf Club is a fun but pricey Rees Jones design cut through mangroves ($160; 305-294- 5232). If you get the itch, rent their Callaways for $40 and play away.
Joe Passov has played more than 1,100 courses in 21 countries. If you need travel directions, zip him an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org