A golfer’s guide to spring training

October 15, 2009

One of the very fine confluences of life is the fact that baseball’s spring training sites are all located in beautiful, warm places that are stacked with good golf. You can watch the boys of summer — savvy vets, rookies and bushers alike — and then get in a little training of your own. Here’s your golfer’s guide to spring training.



Best Public Course: We-Ko-Pa Golf Club (480-836-9000, wekopa.com; $175-$195) runs neck and neck with Troon North for top dog in the
valley, but with no homes or roads
obstructing the views and a greens
fee that can be $100 cheaper,
We-Ko-Pa’s 36 holes get the nod.

Best Bang For Your Buck: Longbow Golf Club (480-807-5400, longbowgolf.com; $135-$155) features Red Mountain
as a backdrop and is just east of
HoHoKam Stadium, where the
Cubbies play. Book online and you
can score a prime tee time for $99.

Best You Can Play That You’ve Never Heard Of: Southern Dunes Golf Club (480-367-8949, golfsoutherndunes.com; $129) Built in 2002 as a private men’s club, this
Schmidt-Curley/Fred Couples design
is now public and affordable, and it
sports fescue-framed fairways.


Best Public Course: Ventana Canyon’s Mountain Course (520-577-1400, ventanacanyonclub.com; $100-$175) is famous for its par-3 third
“Hole in the Wall,” which calls for a drop
shot to a tiny green in a cactus-studded
canyon. The other 17 holes aren’t bad,
but the 107-yard third will linger.

Best Bang For Your Buck: Randolph North (520-791-4161, tucsoncitygolf.com; $41-$72) is a classic muni that has hosted the PGA, LPGA and
Champions Tours over the
years. It’s not exactly
classic desert terrain, but
plenty of water hazards, a
walk-on rate of $44 and
next-door access to Hi
Corbett Field, where the
Rockies prep for those crazy
late-season surges, make
Randolph a good buy.

Best You Can Play That You’ve Never Heard Of: On the northwest side of town
at the base of the towering
Santa Catalina and Tortolita
Mountains, Vistoso Golf Club (520-797-9900, vistosogolf.com; $89-$145) is a Tom Weiskopf design
full of natural washes, deep bunkers
and risk/reward options. If you
wait until 1 p.m. to play, it’s $89.


Southwest Florida

Best Public Course: Ernie Els has
called Innisbrook’s Copperhead course (727-942-2000, innisbrookgolfresort.com; $200-$245), “the best course the
PGA Tour visits in Florida.” Normally
reserved for resort guests, you can play
with a valid USGA GHIN handicap. And
Innisbrook is perfectly situated for
Yankees, Phillies and Blue Jays fans.

Best Bang For Your Buck: Developed
as a private club north of Tampa, Cheval Golf and Country Club’s (813-948-2114, chevalgolfandcountryclub.com; $30-$45) website discreetly
“invites you to play at Cheval as a
Member for a Day.” Don’t turn this one
down. This Steve Smyers redesign has
water on 17 holes, and 100 bunkers
for less than the cost of 10 hot dogs.

Best You Can Play That You’ve Never Heard Of: Old Corkscrew Golf Club (239-949-4700, oldcorkscrew.com; $135-$180), is in Estero,
just south of
Ft. Myers and Cape
Coral — and just a
sac fly for Twins and
Red Sox fans. Make
sure to bring your
big bat — this 7,393-yard
Jack Nicklaus core design has a
formidable rating/slope of 76/142.

Central Florida (Orlando)

Best Public Course: Bay Hill is still King in these parts, but that’s a stay-to-play
deal, so instead steer your rental car to Disney World’s Osprey Ridge (407-939-4653, disneyworldgolf.com; $139-$174), a Tom Fazio affair with big, fun greens. It’s
also practically in the bullpen of Champion
Stadium, where the Braves play ball.

Best Bang For Your Buck: Green and bunker renovations completed in January make Falcon’s Fire Golf Club (407-239-5445, falconsfire.com; $99-$129) a terrific value. Designed by Rees Jones, it’s $69 after 2 p.m. and only 10 minutes from Osceola Stadium, aka Astros Country.

Best You Can Play That You’ve Never Heard Of: The Deltona Club (386-789-4911, thedeltonaclub.com; $38-$48), formerly Deltona Hills, is basking in the afterglow of a Bobby Weed makeover. It’s 30 miles north of Orlando, away from
the baseball, but for muni-style prices and brilliant bunkering, it’s worth the haul.

Southeast Florida

Best Public Course: The Wanamaker (nee South) course at PGA Golf Club (800-800-4653, pgavillage.com; $60-$109) is an Audubon-certified, 1996
Tom Fazio design. Steep bunkers and a par-4 closer
guaranteed to crucify slicers will make fans of the
Mets — who practice getting injured a few miles
away at Tradition Field — feel right at home.

Best Bang For Your Buck: The Dye course at PGA Golf Club (800-800-4653, pgavillage.com; $60-$109) is Pete Dye-lite: same great taste as his other top
courses, but a third fewer “others” on your scorecard.
Bonus: The two Fazio courses at PGA Village get
heavier play, so you should buzz around the Dye.

Best You Can Play That You’ve Never Heard Of: North Palm Beach Country Club (561-691-3433, npbcc.org; $85-$125) sounds like a snobfest, and
it was 100 years ago. Today, it’s a spiffy 2006 Jack
Nicklaus redesign that he did for $1 — a way of giving
back to his adopted hometown. Old St. Jack also
gave them an extra 800 yards and two holes on the
Intracoastal Waterway, just south of Roger Dean
Stadium in Jupiter, home of the Cards and the Marlins.