If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at email@example.com.
Dear Joe,We are a group of eight golfers traveling to Bend, Oregon in September. Do you have any recommended courses accommodating four rounds of golf? Carl MillerKansas City, Mo. Hopefully you saw our feature on Bend in the August 2009 issue, but either way, here's a quick recap. Mike Reid certainly can vouch for Crosswater at Sunriver Resort ($109-$175; 541-593-4402, sunriver-resort.com) having walked away with a Champions Tour major there this past week. You don't have to be quite as straight as the man they call "Radar" to enjoy Crosswater, but you do have to be a guest of the resort to play it. Book your stay -- because it's the best course in the area. Ranked No. 33 in our 2008-09 Top 100 Courses You Can Play, this Bob Cupp/John Fought design is edged with wispy fescues and sports countless holes that skirt ponds, wetlands, the Deschutes River and the Little Deschutes River.
If you're looking to camp in one place, Sunriver offers two more quality tracks, the Meadows, a subtly contoured, strategically bunkered John Fought re-design, and the more dramatic Woodlands, a Robert Trent Jones Jr. Both top out at $109, and after September 14th, can be had for as little as $49 if you're a resort guest.
Beyond Sunriver, check out the Golf Club at Tetherow ($112.50-$175; 541-388-2582, tetherow.com), a private David McLay Kidd layout that offers limited public play. We honored it last year as 2008's Top New Course You Can Play and if you can survive the wildly rolling greens with your dignity intact, you'll relish the day, thanks to the Old World shotmaking challenges and the stellar views of Broken Top Mountain.
Finally, for a more relaxed, affordable, if still worthy challenge, head to the Big Meadow course at Black Butte Ranch ($55-$73; 541-595-1500, blackbutteranch.com). This mature, easily walkable Robert Muir Graves design zigzags through tall Ponderosa pines and aspen groves. Dear Joe, I am currently deployed to Iraq and will be returning to the U.S. in September 2009. I have scheduled a golf vacation with three of my friends to Steamboat Springs, Colorado for the week of October 10-17. We plan on driving to Lakota Canyon Ranch Golf Club for one of our rounds but would like your recommendations for any other courses in the area, especially around Steamboat Springs. Thanks, Travelin' JoeSgt. Richard VickersVia email Well, soldier, if you've endured the heat (and other pesky distractions) of Iraq, then Colorado's October chill shouldn't bother you much at all. Rest assured, however, that you'll need a sweater -- or more. The average high in Steamboat Springs during your stay is 61 degrees, average low is 24. Also, call ahead to any course you're contemplating, because end of season up there is typically October 15, though depending on the weather, they might close even earlier -- or stay open later.
That said, you'll enjoy the Lakota Canyon thrill ride -- both getting there and playing it. Ranked No. 75 in our Top 100 Courses You Can Play, Lakota Canyon Ranch ($75-$95; 970-984-9700, lakotacanyonranch.com) is a Jim Engh design bursting with risk/reward opportunities, especially where it tangos with scrub-filled canyons. Best of all, it's down at 5,500 feet, so you've got a better chance at warm(er), less snowy weather.
At Steamboat Springs' 6,700-foot elevation, you'll find two worthy courses, Rollingstone Ranch and Haymaker -- that are practically polar opposites. Rollingstone Ranch ($65-$140; 970-879-1391, rollingstoneranchgolf.com) is not the name of a Mick Jagger/Keith Richards recording studio -- rather, it's the new name for what had been the Sheraton Steamboat course. The hotel has kept its name, while the Troon-managed, 1974 Robert Trent Jones Jr. design has kept its character, but has vastly improved its conditions and service.
Rollingstone Ranch exemplifies the true mountain golf experience: babbling, stone-dappled streams, aspens and evergreens framing fairways, ski runs in the backdrop. Still, there's plenty of legitimately good golf to be had in its 6,902 yards. Haymaker ($69-$88; 970-870-1846, haymakergolf.com) on the other hand, also offers a terrific test in its 7,308-yard journey, but this Audubon Certified, Keith Foster design is free of trees, and of development, which allows for more wind to come into play as well as for unobstructed 360-views of mountains and valleys. Dear Joe,I will be traveling to Cape Cod this summer and am looking for quality golf courses to play. Any help is greatly appreciated. I belong to a private club out here and don't know if you have info on reciprocal arrangements. I have played the Plymouth area courses and am looking to stay on the Cape this time.Jay ShaySan Francisco, Calif. Start with Ocean Edge Resort & Club ($110-$145; 508-896-9000, oceanedge.com) in Brewster. In 2008, Chris Rule of Nicklaus Design reworked a very tight, quirky 1986 routing, making a layout today that features more width and visibility. He also added new green and bunker complexes, as well as nearly 300 yards to the tips. Now, it's a totally fun, playable, 7,011-yard track. Highlights include the 195-yard, par-3 8th that plays downhill with a forced carry over Blueberry Pond and the 600-yard, par-5 17th that will wear you out with one hole to play. Cranberry Valley ($38-$82; 508-430-5234, cranberrygolfcourse.com) in Harwich, is another dandy, complete with a rugged closing trio and its namesake bogs scattered about.
On the private side, it's best to have your pro call anywhere these days, because in this economy, you might find some takers that even a year ago, would have had their doors boarded up to any outside play. One terrific venue that accepts some reciprocal play is Cape Cod National, a handsome 1998 Brian Silva design in Brewster that sports excellent bunkering and shotmaking options. Overnight guests of the Wequassett Inn pay $140 to play. If you're not staying at the Wequassett, there's still access from time to time, especially weekday afternoons. Have your home pro make the call.