Thursday, November 13, 2008

If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at askjoe@golf.com. Hi Joe,I'm heading to Las Vegas in November and I'd like to know what you recommend for a true "desert golf" experience. I want to play a type of course I can't get here in Georgia. I'm even willing to drive up to Mesquite while I'm there.Paul AllmonAtlanta, Ga. Hey, this is Vegas-you can get anything your heart (or wallet) desires here. If you're willing to splurge, you'll be captivated by the back nine at Butch Harmon's haunt, Rio Secco ($115-$225; 702-889-2400, riosecco.net), where the holes dip into and out of scrub-filled canyons. A worthy alternative is the Badlands ($70-$150); 702-363-0754, badlandsgc.com), a 27-hole Johnny Miller desert target design that has plenty of quirky touches and a nice "wow" factor. Hey Joe,I'm headed to Phoenix with my wife in December and want to play somewhere scenic, but one that won't beat us up, if you know what I mean.George KentRichmond, Va. Say "Hi" if you see me strolling the fairways of my hometown! Try any of the three nines at The Phoenician ($115-$175; 480-423-2449, thephoenician.com) The Oasis loop offers a touch of Florida thanks to the landscaping and lakes, while the Desert and Canyon nines embrace cactus and mountain themes. All three nines are pretty short but eye-catching. Hi Joe,I'm a Spanish pro and going to Orlando next winter. Which are, in your opinion, the top 10 golf courses to play in Orlando?Mario Fernandez CoboSpain Travelin' Joe hasn't played them all, but taking in the feedback I've received, plus my own subjective whims, here's your Orlando area Top 10.
1. Arnold Palmer's Bay Hill Club, Orlando (private-resort)2. Sugarloaf Mountain Golf & Town Club, Clermont (private-resort)3. Southern Dunes, Haines City (public)4. Lake Nona Golf & Country Club, Orlando (private)5. Isleworth Country Club, Windermere (private)6. Ginn Reunion Resort (Independence), Orlando (private-resort)7. Grand Cypress Golf Club (New), Orlando (public-resort)8. Walt Disney World (Osprey Ridge), Lake Buena Vista (public-resort)9. Orange County National (Panther Lake), Winter Garden (public-resort)10. Orange County National (Crooked Cat), Winter Garden (public-resort)
Many private courses are receptive to allowing play from visiting professionals, on a space-available basis, so call or write ahead of time. If that doesn't work, mention Sergio's name.

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