Dear Joe, Headed to Savannah for a business trip and am looking to stay and play for a couple of additional days in early February. Any favorites for me to keep in mind? Drew C. Calgary, Alberta, Canada I’ll draw it up for you, Drew. It’s worth the extra cash to spring for the Unlimited Golf Package at the Westin Savannah Harbor (912-201-2000, westinsavannah.com). For $319, you can stay one night and play all the golf you want at the resort’s Club at Savannah Harbor ($55-$95; 912-201-2240, theclubatsavannahharbor.com), a 1999 Bob Cupp/Sam Snead design superbly managed by Troon Golf.
You also can play the course a la carte, where beguiling green contouring and strategically deployed wetlands will make you think from start to finish. Though a pretty flat track, it’s spiced with several memorable holes, such as the 447-yard, par-4 sixth, which captivates the senior set during the Champions Tour’s annual Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf, due partly to its away-sloping green at the edge of the marsh and its jaw-dropping Talmadge Bridge backdrop. The skinny, drive-and-pitch par-4 14th, properly named Alligator Alley, is another keeper.
While I may be fond of the course, I’m absolutely smitten with the hotel. Take a Savannah River-view room, feast on the she-crab soup and grouper in the Aqua Star restaurant, relax in the aptly named Heavenly Spa and catch the free river ferry into town—you can thank me later, as Larry King used to say.
The 23-year-old Southbridge ($30-$50; 912-651-5455, southbridgegolfclub.com), a wooded, watery Rees Jones design, is the region’s best bargain, but I’m also partial to Crosswinds ($23.50-$51.50; 912-966-0674, crosswindsgolfclub.com) for its playability and its accessible location five minutes from the Savannah Airport. Hi Joe, We will be in Scottsdale in January. I am looking for some help with course selection. For a few days of the week, both my wife and I will play together, and we are looking for some nice but affordable places to play. My wife is still fairly new in golf: Target golf is not the most desirable play for her. The last few days of the week, I would like to play some of the best courses in the region. I will be playing as a single on Friday and Saturday. What would you say are the most memorable ones to try out? Jan Jaap Bijlsma Vancouver, B.C., Canada Though I’m not a certified marriage counselor, I’ll advise on a course of courses that will keep you both happy. On the west side of town, you and the missus shouldn’t miss Sun City South ($35; 623-876-3015, sunaz.com), which I once called the best value in the entire Valley of the Sun—and a year later, I’ll stand by my opinion. This is “normal” golf—wall-to-wall grass, trees, a few lakes—plus some terrific strategic options, thanks to an inspired 2010 redesign from architect Tripp Davis and his associate, Gary Brawley, all for a price that will bring you back early and often.
On the east side of town, try the Indian Bend course at the Camelback Inn, a JW Marriott Resort & Spa ($59 Twilight-$99 in January), a handsome, traditional parkland layout graced with tall palms and mountain vistas. Individually memorable holes are lacking, but a stellar pro shop, service, location and playability for newer golfers are pluses.
For thrills like few others in the southwest, check out the Boulders ($60-$220; 480-488-9028, theboulders.com), which delivers golf among gigantic, ancient rocks for you and her. You get a sturdy test and she gets a new set of forward tees—at a reduced price—which form part of a 9-hole “course within a course” with hole lengths between 100 and 200 yards.
For golf on your own, I’ll toss out the usual suspects: We-Ko-Pa’s Saguaro course ($75-$205; 480-836-9000, wekopa.com) tops my list if you had one course to play, thanks to its rolling, yet walkable Coore-Crenshaw design that’s free from homes. If you love famous footsteps, TPC Scottsdale’s Stadium course ($75-$299; 480-585-4334, tpc.com/Scottsdale) is a must-do, with 25 years of Phoenix Open lore soaking its fairways.
Troon North ($175-$325; 480-585-5300, troonnorthgolf.com) offers the finest combination of challenge and aesthetics in the Valley, whether you play the Monument or the Pinnacle, and Grayhawk ($100-$230; 480-502-1800, grayhawkgolf.com) dishes out the best vibe—golf, food, service, ambiance, with both its courses, Talon and Raptor, having been PGA Tour venues.
(Photo: Troon North)