Ask Travelin' Joe: Las Vegas, Alabama and Scottsdale

If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at askjoe@golf.com. Travelin' Joe,I'm headed to Vegas with friends for a quick weekend golf trip in December. We're scheduled to play at Revere and Badlands. We'll try to get in 36 in a day. Any thoughts on these courses?Thomas Jones, Esq.Washington, D.C. Counselor, I'm advising that you sample those two venues on different days. Sunrise in Las Vegas on say, December 10, is 6:41 a.m., sunset at 4:26 p.m. and the two courses are a good half-hour apart, so it's not going to be easy doubling up. If you stay at the same property, different story. The Revere Golf Club has two Billy Casper/Greg Nash courses, the Lexington and the Concord, the latter the newer and less expensive of the two. Lexington is the slightly stronger product, but they're both good plays. I wrote about Badlands ($70-$150; 702-363-0754, badlandsgc.com) in this spot a couple of weeks back, calling it "a 27-hole Johnny Miller desert target design that has plenty of quirky touches and a nice 'wow' factor." I haven't changed my mind. Dear Joe,I'm looking at property at Kiva Dunes, Alabama. I found a great value down there. I'm attracted because of its location and its challenging golf course. Can you tell me where does Kiva Dunes Golf Club rank in 2008?Michelle MurrayAtlanta, Ga. Kiva Dunes Golf Club ($72-$92; 251-540-7000, kivadunes.com) is a 1995 Jerry Pate design in Gulf Shores, 45 miles west of Pensacola that darts through wind-sculpted dunes along the Gulf of Mexico. It rates among the best in the state from every publication that ranks courses. At GOLF Magazine, it charted as the third-best public course in Alabama in our 2008 rankings that were published in September. Best reason to buy? Property owners pay only $50-$55 to play. Hey Joe,My family is taking a trip to see friends in Scottsdale over Christmas. I am planning on playing a couple of times. I'm looking for a couple of somewhat affordable courses and one high-end course. Are there some lower priced courses that you would recommend in the general vicinity, and if you could pick only one course to play out there, what would it be? Thanks for the info.Matt MooreStillwater, N.Y. Scottsdale is a legitimate golf mecca, but not for bargain hunters. Remember, too, that rates rise after the first of the year at many area courses, so try to tee off before the calendar changes. That said, since you've come from New York, you should get a taste of desert golf. Start at Mountain Shadows Golf Club ($25-$49; mountainshadowsgolfclub.com, 480-905-8999), a lush, tight, par-56 executive track that's under $30 to ride most afternoons and features in-your-face views of Camelback Mountain. Head next to the Sanctuary Golf Course at WestWorld ($71-$99; sanctuarygolf.com, 480-502-8200), an Audubon-certified desert target design from Randy Heckenkemper that juniors can walk for $31. You can ride after 2 p.m. for $45 and can walk during the week for $71. Finally, splurge at We-Ko-Pa's Saguaro course ($145-$180; wekopa.com, 480-836-9000), a very walkable Bill Coore/Ben Crenshaw creation just east of Scottsdale that has no homes or roads — just wide fairways, strategic bunkering, cleverly contoured greens and unobstructed cactus and mountain vistas everywhere you look.

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