Travelin' Joe answers your questions

Tuesday March 11th, 2008
Teeth of the Dog: still "best in show" in the Caribbean.
Evan Schiller

Dear Joe,
My husband and I want to take a golf trip to either Mexico or the Caribbean. We're looking for a reasonably priced, all-inclusive resort. Any suggestions? — Kelly Bonjour, Amarillo, Texas.

My first choice in the Caribbean is still Casa de Campo (800-877-3643) in the Dominican Republic, home of the best track in the islands, Pete Dye's Teeth of the Dog. The Inclusive Supplement starts at $216 per person, nightly. In Mexico, try Moon Palace in Cancun (888-525- 5025, moonpalace.com) and its Jack Nicklaus track. All-Inclusive rates start at $190 per person per night.

Hi Joe,
My best friend from college and I want to take a golf vacation this month. He lives in Massachusetts; I'm in New Mexico. Neither of us likes fancy name courses—we're fine with good, scenic courses that cost under $100 a round. Where should we go? —Vic Strasburger, Albuquerque, N.M.

Given the time of year and your course preferences, Travelin' Joe is compelled to say Myrtle Beach, where the value and variety is superb. Check out Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday (golfholiday.com), which represents dozens of courses and vacation package providers for the best deals.

Hey Joe,
I'm about to head off on a road trip that will take me through Las Cruces, New Mexico. Any recommended courses in the area? — Jim Smith, Kingwood, Texas.CP]

The golf offerings here are about as plentiful as fur coats at a PETA convention. Your best bets are New Mexico State University Golf Course ($35-$41; 505-646-3219), a three-time NCAA Championships site, and Sonoma Ranch Golf Course ($34-$42; 505-521-1818). Both are desert-style designs with nice mountain and valley views. If you've got time, zip 45 miles down I-10 to El Paso's Butterfield Trail ($65-$80; 915-772-1038), a terrific new Tom Fazio effort that was among Golf Magazine's Top 10 New Courses You Can Play of 2007.

What's New This Month?
Pelican Hill Golf Club
Newport Coast, Calif.
Green fees: $235; 877-735-4226 or pelicanhill.com
The North and South courses at Pelican Hill were mainstays on Golf Magazine's Top 100 Courses You Can Play until they missed out in 2006, with good reason: They were closed. The new Resort at Pelican Hill will open in fall 2008, but both courses reopened late in 2007, and the results were worth the wait. Architect Tom Fazio enhanced the playability here, but the biggest impact comes from cutting back the brush that obscured the ocean views. The longer North course (6,945 yards, par 71) offers the more consistent test, with tighter tee shots and approaches, but the South (6,580 yards, par 70) sports the most memorable holes and views that will make you forget the sticker-shock green fees.

Take it From Joe
For many spring breakers, March is time to flee the cold and head for the beach. Golfers are no exception. While the kids head to Daytona Beach, here are four "beach" courses you can enjoy.

Pebble Beach Golf Links
Pebble Beach, Calif.
$475; 831-624-3811, pebblebeach.com
Here's what you get for your five Franklins: superb variety, relentless challenge, history and eye-popping views of Carmel Beach. Nine holes are perched atop the cliffs, but the most memorable beach views come at the 430-yard, par-4 10th, where the fairway tilts hard toward the Pacific. A slice here will be recovered by beachcombers, not your caddie.

Monarch Beach Golf Links
Dana Point, Calif.
$110-$240
949-240-8247, monarchbeachgolf.com
"Right-on-the-ocean" holes are in short supply here, but this Robert Trent Jones Jr. design offers terrific bunkering, unbeatable climate and the peerless St. Regis hotel next door.The best beach view arrives early, at the brilliant 315- yard, par-4 3rd, where the ocean looms to the right and beyond the green.

Waikoloa Beach Resort (Beach Course)
Big Island, Hawaii
$130-$195
808-886-6060, waikoloabeachresort.com
For a time Robert Trent Jones Jr. was the king of Hawaiian course design. This is not one of his crowning achievements, but it's fun nonetheless.The postcard hole is the 502-yard 12th, a dogleg left with the ocean to the right.Toss in the lava rough and breaching humpback whales and it's one memorable walk.

The Dunes Golf & Beach Club
Myrtle Beach, S.C.
$95-$200
843-449-5914, TheDunesClub.net
No. 46 on Golf Magazine's Top 100 Courses You Can Play, this 60-year-old Robert Trent Jones Sr. design has all of the master's classic touches, but the years have diminished encounters with the ocean. Still, you'll face the Atlantic head-on at the 200-yard, par-3 9th, where "3" is a damned good score.

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