If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A group of 8 of us are going to Chicago on the September 19 weekend. We were looking into a golf course to play that Saturday morning but haven't made up our minds yet. I was wondering if you could give me some suggestions as to where we should try. My criteria would be: public, $100 or less, relatively close proximity to Chicago because we won't have our own vehicles. Our handicaps range from 2 to 20. We want to play something quality and memorable. Jordan Lund
Jordan, it would take Solomon's wisdom to find a perfect answer here, but you're stuck with Travelin' Joe, so we'll forge ahead with compromises. The Glen Club (847-724-7272, theglenclub.com) almost fits your bill. It's only 15 miles north of O'Hare, it serves up a handsome, tournament-tested Tom Fazio design and it's got all the service bells and whistles you could ask for. Unfortunately, they're asking $175 to play on a September Saturday.
Next up is Harborside International (312-782-7837, harborsideinternational.com), whose Port and Starboard courses are equally strong, with plenty of breeze-fueled challenge. The good news is that both are $95, including cart and practice balls. The mixed bag is that while it's close to downtown Chicago (you can see the city skyline playing the course), it's also a bit of a hike from O'Hare, on Toll roads where it seems like they nickel and dime you every four minutes. However, if you're staying in the city on Friday night, then Harborside is your best bet.
Hello Joe the Golfer,
I'm traveling to the Nation's Capital in mid-September and would like to tee it up. Unfortunately, Congressional, TPC Avenal and the White House putting green aren't likely to let me crash their party. Where should I go? Jay in Chicago
Fear not, Jay, you're welcome at Lake Presidential Golf Club (301-627-8577, lakepresidential.com; $79-$95), provided you bring cash or credit. Situated in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, 20 miles southeast of the Capitol, this walker-friendly track tumbles over rolling, wooded terrain and sports several holes that memorably skirt the course's namesake 30-acre lake. Play during the week and you'll have enough change left over from your Franklin for some culture -- say, the International Spy Museum. Of course, if you double bogey the watery par-5 18th, you might prefer the National Museum of Crime and Punishment.
I'm traveling with my husband to Las Vegas 30 Sept until 5 Oct. We're looking to golf at least once but most likely twice. We are average golfers and are looking for some courses near the city for $100 or less. A friend has recommended Las Vegas National and it looks enticing but unsure of what others are out there. I was reading about Reflection Bay but understand it has gone into receivership. Liz Brown
Goderich, Ontario, Canada
You're right about Reflection Bay. Everything is on hiatus at Lake Las Vegas until further notice. As for Las Vegas National (702-734-1796, lasvegasnational.com), it's a fun, retro experience, with an ambience that's pure Rat Pack, including photos of Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra on the walls. On-course, it's not terribly dramatic stuff, but Tiger played here during his first PGA Tour win and mature trees will lend some shade -- Vegas is typically still pretty warm in late September. From noon to 3 p.m., it's $89; it's $119 before noon.
Wherever you choose, call ahead, as this is the time of year that Vegas courses overseed. Courses are usually shut down for two weeks, and even when they reopen, conditioning can be iffy, often with a cartpath-only policy. Three affordable courses I like, the Legacy, Royal Links and Angel Park's Palm, are down until September 23. Give them a pass this time. So, two options: If you're into trees, play Desert Pines. Rack rates can run up to $179, but play after 2:00 p.m. and it's $99 -- and you can take off 30% if you pre-pay with your reservation.
My other choice is Angel Park's Mountain course (702-254-4653, angelpark.com). It's open, with mountain views (hence the name) and the facility is terrific, with a short course and a putting course. Though October 1, it's $75, $55 after 1:00 p.m. Starting October 2, rates climb to $109-$119, or $75-$85 after 1 pm -- but book online for lower rates.