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Dear Joe,I am taking a trip to the Southern Missouri/Northwest Arkansas Ozarks and would like to play a few rounds of golf. I am open to all types of courses and price ranges, but usually like to get the best bang for the buck. I will be traveling with my wife, 9-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son, so resorts with amenities other than golf would be great, too. Recommendations?Loyce SmithJunction City, Kan. To compensate for those guilt pangs of being without the family for 6 hours, I'm sending you straight to the best course in the area, the Tom Fazio-designed Branson Creek Golf Club ($90-$99; 417-339-4653, bransoncreekgolf.com), a rolling track with lakes, hills and mountain vistas. Fortunately, Branson's myriad attractions will allow your family to forget all about you-for 6 hours, anyway. For lodging, check out the Westgate Branson Woods Resort and Cabins (888-808-7410, wgbransonwoods.com), an affiliated partner of Branson Creek, which offers indoor and outdoor pools, a lighted playground, bike rentals and plenty more. If you'd prefer the prices and tranquility of Arkansas, don't miss Stonebridge Meadows ($30-$54; 479-571-3673, stonebridgemeadows.com) in Fayetteville, a testing Randy Heckenkemper creation near the University of Arkansas that might be the region's top value.
Dear Travelin' Joe,My husband and I are traveling to Los Angeles County. Can you please recommend two top-rated courses and two mediocre ones for us to play?Pei Pei Cheng-de CastroNew York, N.Y. For top-tier tracks, I'd start with Trump National Los Angeles ($160-$375; 310-303-3240, trumpgolf.com), a spectacular -- and spectacularly priced -- layout 25 minutes south of LAX designed by your fellow New Yorker, Donald J. Trump. While it's claustrophobically cramped in spots, its bluff-top location overlooking the Pacific Ocean is unforgettable. Twenty-five miles east of L.A. is Industry Hills at Pacific Palms Resort (626-810-4653, ihgolfclub.com), which serves up two memorable courses. The Ike ($100-$135, $75 twilight) is the stronger of the two, but the narrower, shorter Babe (Zaharias) course is equally hilly and 15 bucks cheaper. Mediocrity is relative, of course, but two low-priced alternatives with huge plusses and minuses are Los Verdes Golf Course ($25-$45.50, 310-377-7888, losverdes.americangolf.com) and Rancho Park ($31-$51; 310-839-9812, rpgc.org). The former boasts stunning ocean vistas and the latter offers serious PGA Tour history. If you can get past the glacial pace of play, you'll enjoy.Dear Joe,I may be relocated through my job to Montreal. I would be there in the warm weather months-what are the must-play courses? Any parts of town that would put me closest to a variety of quality courses?David McNeillWichita, Kan.Bone up on your French, and you'll do just fine in Canada's second largest city. Quality golf is scattered throughout, but your best bet is a half-hour or so north of downtown, where the top public golf facility, Montreal Island Golf Club ($40-$70; 514-448-6000, cgimgolf.com) is situated. Irishman Pat Ruddy crafted two 18s, the North, a 6,600-yard parklander and the South, a 7,180-yard links-like spread. Both are compelling, but the South is the brawnier affair-and is $10 more to play. Nearby is Le Versant Golf Center ($25-$65; 450-964-2251, golfleversant.com/en/), with four courses -- the best being the 7,103-yard Des Seigneurs layout.