If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hi Joe, We would like to have a week's golf in Colorado in February 2011 after skiing. Are there courses or resorts available or are they snowed out? Barry Costa Australia G'day, mate, and let me assure you that you've got a fighting chance to play golf in February. For the second half of the month, daytime highs in Denver average 50 degrees, with surprisingly low prospects of precipitation. February is Denver's driest month, when only .49 inches of rain/snow accumulate, and there's a 69 percent chance of getting a sunny day. Courses stay open, generally with great rates, such as the city of Aurora's Murphy Creek (303-361-7300, auroragov.org/golf), a Ken Kavanaugh prairie links design that played host to the 2008 U.S. Amateur Publinks Championship. Special winter rates are $40-$50 to play all day, with cart, or $30-$40 to walk.
Even at 6,000 feet, one of our Premier Resorts Awards Platinum winner The Broadmoor (719-577-5775, broadmoor.com) keeps its courses available in February, weather permitting, including the fabled East course, a Donald Ross/Robert Trent Jones design that will host the U.S. Women's Open in July. They have special winter golf packages that include room, golf, full breakfast and range balls for prices starting at $218 per person, based on double occupancy. Keep your fingers crossed — you might just get in some golf. Dear Joe, My wife and I are planning a golf vacation to Hawaii. What recommendations do you have for courses and hotels? Our goal is to play all of the Top 100 courses in our life. We have 60 so far, but none in Hawaii. Which do you recommend? Bill Young Via email P.S. We use your column when we plan our golf vacations — very helpful Travelin' Joe appreciates your business. I'll try and steer you in the right direction. As far as your quest goes, Hawaii's pretty easy. Each of the top three courses, Mauna Kea, the Prince Course at Princeville at Hanalei and the Plantation course at Kapalua are affiliated with top-notch resorts, so you can — and should — stay right on property.
The Big Island's Mauna Kea ($155-$250; 808-882-5400, maunakeagolf.com), a classic Robert Trent Jones creation that was recently tweaked by Trent's son, Rees, ranks No. 19 in our Top 100 Courses You Can Play, and No. 100 of all courses in the U.S. Famous for its jaw-dropping par-3 3rd, with its heroic carry over a cove of churning Pacific Ocean, the lava-lined Mauna Kea is rock-solid from start to finish.
Next up is The Prince ($125-$200, 800-826-1105, princeville.com) on Kauai, a beautiful, brutal tropical tour de force from Robert Trent Jones Jr. Critics have harped that too often the course is relentless, and its fairways play too soft, but what's undeniable is the remarkable collection of great holes scattered through its jungle-like, clifftop setting, including the downhill, question mark-shaped opening par-4 and the superior ravine-hopping par-5 15th. The Prince ranks No. 22 in our Top 100 You Can Play, and has been a frequent member of various Top 100 lists through the years.
Finally, you'll need at least one trip around Kapalua's Plantation course on Maui — but likely many more to figure out this massively wide, wildly rolling Bill Coore/Ben Crenshaw layout that hosts the PGA Tour's season-opening event every year. Ranked No. 23 in our Top 100 You Can Play, Kapalua's Plantation ($158-$268; 808-669-8044, kapaluamaui.com) is wind-addled, yet pure pleasure due to its emphasis on the ground game, and the corresponding room to play all sorts of different shots.
Ultimately, you'll need to visit three different islands to play Hawaii's three top-ranked courses, but that doesn't seem like bad duty to me. Dear Joe, We are going on a cruise to the Bahamas in January, and we will be stopping at Nassau and Freeport. There are two courses that Carnival will let us play, the Cable Beach course in Nassau and the Lucaya Reef course in Freeport. I have heard bad things about these courses, and for what they are asking in green fees, I'm not sure that they are a good deal. There is also a course in Key West, Key West Golf and Country Club. Not sure about that one either. Glenn Cox Irving, Texas Well, Glenn, I understand you're a poker player, so hopefully you'll understand when I tell you that I wouldn't even bluff with this hand. I might even fold. If you're dying for a game, and willing to spring for one of these rounds, the Lucaya Reef course ($75-$130, 242-373-2003, ourlucaya.com) at least offers a decent, linksy, Robert Trent Jones Jr. re-design, though it's not one of his more stellar efforts. Poor conditioning has been an issue here, and I don't have any right-this-minute reports so you'd be taking a chance here.
Cable Beach ($130-$150; crystalpalacevacations.com/golf) has a nice classic pedigree, but is otherwise undistinguished, with recent complaints of spotty maintenance. Key West ($70-$95; 305-294-5232, keywestgolf.com) a Rees Jones design, has some memorable holes, notably the all-carry, par-3 8th over a mangrove swamp, but also too many ordinary holes and too high a price tag — it's the only game in town — which makes this an iffy value at best, though it's down significantly from its $140 heyday a few years back.
(Photo: The Broadmoor; John Henebry)