Ask Travelin' Joe: Scotland, Maui and Scottsdale resorts

If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at askjoe@golf.com. Dear Joe, I read your articles in GOLF Magazine all the time, and I’ve traveled to many of the same places so I know your insights are right-on. My wife and I are heading to Scotland this summer to play St. Andrews (and others). Besides the Old Course, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns, can you recommend other top-notch courses while we are there? We have time for three more courses, and I would appreciate any input you might provide. Keith Alf Buffalo, NY Clearly, you’ve got the trophy courses covered. For the second tier, it’s vexing, because there’s so much personal preference involved. For instance, if you want to do another course on your Carnoustie day, try Panmure (75 pounds; panmuregolfclub.co.uk), just down the road. It’s an old-fashioned, jacket-and-tie-in-the-clubhouse affair where Ben Hogan warmed up for his successful 1953 British Open win at Carnoustie. A dull closing stretch mars an otherwise wonderful round, but you’ll surely remember Hogan’s favorite hole, the par-4 6th, which tumbles through sandhills and concludes in a plateau green.
Closer to St. Andrews is a personal pick, Crail’s Balcomie Links (57 pounds to 72 pounds; crailgolfingsociety.co.uk), the 7th-oldest golf club in the world. A par-69, and a shade under 6,000 yards from the tips, Crail may be too short and quirky for everybody’s tastes, but if you embrace the odd blind shot, holes that criss-cross each other, brisk breezes and sea views from start to finish, you’ll be crazy about Crail.
If you simply need to get out of the wind for a day, and want superior conditions, service, facilities and bunkering, do the heathland/parkland hybrid that is the Duke’s course (75 pounds-115 pounds; oldcoursehotel.co.uk), which benefits from its affiliation with the Kohler outfit and the Old Course Hotel.
For more than 100 years, folks have been extolling the rock-solid virtues of the New Course at St. Andrews. It certainly is fair, historic in its own right and possibly a tougher track to score well on than the Old, but it’s sorely lacking in memorable shots. If memorability is what you’re after, try the four-year-old Castle course (60 pounds-120 pounds; standrews.org.uk), just down the road from Kingsbarns. It’s a thrill-ride throughout, but its wildly chaotic greens may drive you to double your post-round whisky intake. The Fairmont St. Andrews courses, the Lundin links, St. Andrews (Jubilee and Eden), Ladybank and Crail (Craighead) all have their proponents, but my 1, 2, 3 and 3a are Crail, Panmure, the Castle Course and the Duke’s. Dear Joe, We’re going to Maui for our honeymoon. I’ve got clearance to play one round. I’m a 25 handicap. What are your recommendations? Sal Murillo Jr. Newbury Park, CA First off, congratulations! Second, my wedding gift is to steer you to Wailea Golf Club (888-328-MAUI, waileagolf.com). A past home to the Senior Skins Game, Wailea boasts three courses, each with more than its share of eye-candy vistas. However, you’ll want to play either the Emerald course or the Old Blue. The Old Blue is “Old Hawaii,” with stellar ocean views, mature trees, generous fairways and easy-to-escape bunkers. You won’t lose too many balls as forced carries are kept to a minimum. The Emerald is a Robert Trent Jones Jr. redesign and sports more bells and whistles than the Blue—upgraded landscaping, better ocean panoramas, trickier bunkers—the works. Yet, if you play the white tees, it’s a very comfortable 67.4 rating and 121 slope, so you won’t get beat up.
While the Emerald is a step up in every way, it’s also much pricier. Generally, the Emerald is $160-$225. The best spring/summer deal is for after 1 p.m., provided you’re a guest of a Maui resort. Then you can play for $135. Club rentals range from $60-$75 and shoe rental is $20. Old Blue, on the other hand is a more affordable $109, $95 after 1 pm. Club rental is $50. If you have the cash for this single honeymoon splurge, do Wailea Emerald. If you’d rather save some coin for a bigger ring, go with the Old Blue. Dear Joe, I am planning a family golf trip for this spring to the southwest U.S. and was wondering your thoughts for a suitable resort with golf in a family-friendly environment. My son is 10 and a real avid little golfer, and he and I will play 3 to 4 times during the week, while my wife and daughter play, but golf is secondary for them on the vacation. I’m interested in your thoughts for reasonably priced rounds and good family fun. Brian Sprovieri Calgary, Alberta, Canada As a kid, Bill Marriott used to vacation at Scottsdale, Arizona’s Camelback Inn (800-24-CAMEL, camelbackinn.com). He enjoyed it so much, he later bought the hotel, eventually renaming it the Camelback Inn, a JW Marriott Resort & Spa. Your family will feel much the same way. It’s a 10-minute shuttle ride to Camelback’s two friendly resort courses. The Indian Bend, in particular, is welcoming to 10-year-olds. (It’s not exactly riveting stuff, but I did play there once with my wife’s 12-year-old nephew and we both enjoyed it.) Best of all, it’s $69-$89 during May, $39-$49 twilight.
For the whole family, there’s an engaging little pitch-and-putt course, complete with tiny bunkers and views of Camelback Mountain, in the Inn’s front yard. A superb spa, convenient shopping and plenty of on-site fun for kids rounds out the well-balanced offerings.
Twenty minutes north, in Phoenix, is another quality Marriott, the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort (480-293-5000, jwdesertridgeresort.com), with a fantastic pool complex, including a lazy river experience kids adore, and while its two on-site courses at the Wildfire Golf Club are more challenging layouts, both framed by raw desert, at least kids play for free after 3 p.m. with a paying adult.
 

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