Thursday, March 17, 2011

If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at askjoe@golf.com. Makena Dear Joe, I'm planning a trip to Maui in April. Are there any "affordable" gems there? Makena looks like the closest thing to being "affordable." I'm planning two rounds: one value round and one where I pony up.Eric Haechrel, via e-mail Enjoy a few rum-filled coconuts: You'll need to sleep in for the best value on Maui. Makena Golf Resort ($59-$179; 808-891-4000; makenagolf.com) is down to one course, the North, but it's a Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed dandy that darts up and down the slopes of Haleakala, with fairways edged by gullies and lava rock. Ocean backdrops are constant companions. Non-resort guests who can wait until noon will pay $119 in April; after 2 p.m., it's $99. On May 1, the after-2 rate plummets to $59.
A worthy alternative is the Dunes at Maui Lani ($79-$125; 808-873-7911, dunesatmauilani.com). For a splurge, I've always liked Kapalua's Plantation ($158-$268; 808-669-8044, kapaluamaui.com), though its wild, woolly ride isn't for everybody. A safer pick is Wailea ($160-$225; 808-875-7450, waileagolf.com). Play the flower-powered Emerald if you're paired with family, and the Gold—with its steep bunkers and forced carries—if you're a low-handicapper. Dear Joe, We have a group of eight looking for a trip around Masters weekend. We live in Minnesota and want to go somewhere warm and dry. Any ideas about where we could go for a reasonable price?Scott Buettner, via e-mail I'm no Al Roker, but Minnesota golf in April could mean snowmen—and I don't mean 8's on your card. Hop a plane to Tucson, Ariz., where airfare is mitigated by cheap golf and balmy weather. Arizona National ($49-$89; 520-749-3636, arizonanationalgolfclub.com) is a 1995 RTJ Jr. creation that sports cactus-framed fairways and serious elevation changes—the par-5 closer plunges 100 feet! Vistoso ($49-$89; 520-797-9900, vistosogolf.com) is a Tom Weiskopf stunner near the Santa Catalina Mountains with deep bunkers and strategic options galore.
For tree-lined, Minnesota-style golf, do "The Dell," the city-owned Dell Urich GC, or its sibling, Randolph North ($48-$80; 520-791-4161, tucsoncitygolf.com). They'll both make you feel at home, minus the frostbite. Hi Joe, I'm going to spend a couple of days in Greenville, S.C., and I was wondering if you could recommend any worthwhile courses in the area.Philip Royce, St. Cloud, Minn. Clemson is best known as a football power, and its recent-vintage course is definitely bowl-worthy. The Walker Course at Clemson University ($38-$56; 864-656-0236, Clemson.edu/centersinstitutes/madren/golf) is named for John E. Walker Sr.—carts are permitted—and sits 40 minutes from Greenville. Densely treed, with well-placed if shallow bunkers, the Walker hits its stride on the closing holes, notably the 17th. Known as "Tiger Paw," this 192-yard par-3 plays to a peninsula green jabbed into Lake Hartwell.
Closer to Greenville proper are River Falls Plantation ($44.25-$54.75; 864-433-9192, riverfallsgolf.com), a wooded, watery Gary Player design with a bit of elevation change that features risk/reward par-5s that close both nines; and Verdae Greens ($48-$58; 864-676-1500, verdaegreens.com), a former Nationwide Tour site that sports plenty of carries over a mountain brook that twists through the layout.
If you've got time for a journey through Blue Ridge country, Sequoyah National Golf Club ($65-$110; 828-497-3000, harrahscherokee.com), a stunning Robert Trent Jones II/Notah Begay creation on the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains, awaits across the North Carolina border. Dear Joe, I'm headed to Florida for Easter with my in-laws. They're in the Daytona Beach area—near New Smyrna Beach. If I can sneak away for one round, what are my best options?Dave Danielson, via e-mail Ah, the forbidden holiday golf, when you straddle that fine line between pure links pleasure and alienating your wife and family. Get thee to two terrific courses. Victoria Hills ($35-$59; 386-738-6000, victoriahillsgolf.com) in Deland, a half-hour from Daytona, is a 10-year-old Ron Garl design. It rolls for 7,149 yards through towering pines and sprawling sand splashes—and it's drier than a martini, with water in play on just a few holes. You can walk for under $40 after noon.
For more strategic bunkering, wavy terrain and low green fees, the Deltona Club ($30-$50; 386-789-4911, thedeltonaclub.com) is a must-play—and it's only 10 miles south of Deland. This unheralded course will save you a few bucks compared to most tracks of this quality. That's cash you'll need to buy "forgive me" flowers for the missus.
(Photo: Evan Schiller)

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