Thursday, January 08, 2009

If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at askjoe@golf.com. Dear Joe,I’m going to Las Vegas in January and wanted to get a round in. I live in Tennessee but really like desert courses. Wolf Creek in Mesquite seems like a good alternative, but it seems like a hike from Vegas. I know you’ve been asked a million times, but let me know your thoughts.Brock SturdivantTennessee You’re right — I get asked this a lot — and for golf in the raw desert, I’ve been recommending Badlands ($70-$150; 702-363-0754, badlandsgc.com), a 27-hole Johnny Miller target course that merges the spectacular with the unplayable and Rio Secco ($115-$225; 702-889-2400, riosecco.net), a Rees Jones design with holes that plunge through scrub-filled canyons. Also, watch for glimpses of Natalie Gulbis on the lesson tee with Butch Harmon.
Two other worthy choices are any of the three Pete Dye courses at Las Vegas Paiute Resort ($79-$159; lvpaiutegolf.com, 800-711-2833) and The Chase at PGA Golf Club Coyote Springs ($140; coyotesprings.com, 877-PGA-VILL). Both require 45- to 55-minute drives from the Strip through barren desert. I like the Wolf course at Paiute, though I don’t know that it’s $30 better than its siblings. The good news is that each is under $100 after 12 noon. The Chase is a superb new Jack Nicklaus track that earned a No. 4 ranking in our 2008 Top 10 New Courses You Can Play. It’s worth the drive. Hi Joe,I’m looking for a couple of easy courses in the Orlando, Florida area. I don’t want to pay good money and have a bad score. My handicap is 18.Steve SmithVia email Since most of us equate “easy” with “boring,” what I’m guessing you’re looking for are some fun, interesting layouts that won’t beat the stuffing out of you. Two that I have in mind are MetroWest Golf Club ($80-$129; metrowestgolf.com, 407-299-1099) and Hawk’s Landing Golf Club ($169; golfhawkslanding.com, 800-567-2623). From the tips, MetroWest actually is far from easy, but this 1987 Robert Trent Jones Sr. creation is traditional golf, with no gimmicks. There are elevated greens and bunkers galore, yet plenty of fairway room and only a handful of lakes make it playable for all. The 6,104-yard middle tees (the tips go 7,051 yards) check in at a comfortable 68.8 rating and 123 slope.
Hawk’s Landing is a Bob Cupp redesign of a mid-‘80s Joe Lee course that stretches only 6,600 yards, with a slope of 131, and features shorter tees of 6,165/5,601/4,746 yards. It’s pricey, but couldn’t be more centrally located, right at the Orlando World Center Marriott Resort. Dear Joe,I’ll be in Lisbon, Portugal and I’m looking for courses to play. I have two days set aside for golf. Would you have any suggestions and contact numbers?Dave OravetsVia email Absolutely worth the splurge is Oitavos Dunes (60-150 Euros--$75-$195; quintadamarinha-oitavosgolfe.pt, 011-351-214860600), 20 minutes from Lisbon in Cascais, on the Estoril Coast. With holes edged by umbrella pines and scrub-covered dunes, this Arthur Hills-designed seaside layout is annual host to the European Tour’s Portuguese Open. A shorter, hillier, more traditional parkland test is Golf do Estoril (65-71 Euros--$85-$95; palacioestorilhotel.com, 011-351-289300680), one of Portugal’s oldest courses, a semi-private club that’s affiliated with the Palacio Estoril Hotel.    

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