If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at [email protected]. Dear Joe: I'm headed to Washington next month to play Chambers Bay. What other courses in the Seattle/Tacoma area would round out my trip—or should I just play Chambers over and over? –Jack Smith, Orinda, Calif.
I'm a fan of 2015 U.S. Open host Chambers Bay, pictured, ($99-$219; 877-295-4657, chambersbaygolf.com), but with its gargantuan length and sprawling layout on a slope overlooking Puget Sound, the walking-only track is a strenuous hike to do day after day.
Nearby is Salish Cliffs ($59-$99; 360-462-3673, salish-cliffs.com), a gorgeous two-year-old Gene Bates design for the Squaxin Island tribe's Little Creek Casino Resort that features artfully sculpted bunkers and mountain and valley vistas—and they have carts.
And Gold Mountain's Olympic course ($24-$81; 360-415-5432, goldmt.com) in Bremerton is not only a frequent venue for USGA events, it's one of the nation's best bargains.
Hi Joe: My dad and I have opening-round tickets to the U.S. Open at Merion this year and have time for one round while we're in the Philadelphia area. Where would you recommend playing? –Todd Gray, Hampton, Va.
The Golf Course at Glen Mills ($50-$95; 610-558-2142, glenmillsgolf.com) is a handsome 1998 Bobby Weed design that emphasizes strategy and scenery, plus superior pace of play.
Due west of downtown in West Chester is the Rees Jones–designed Broad Run Golfer's Club ($40-$75; 610-738-4410, broadrungc.com), which features plenty of water woes in the from of three ponds and Broad Run Creek.
If you like cunning contours and imaginative green configurations, let'er ride at Lederach ($35-$75; 215-513-3034, lederachgolfclub.com), a Kelly Blake Moran offering in the northern suburb of Harleysville.
Hey Joe: My group is making our fifth trip to Myrtle Beach, and we've played most of the top courses. What are your top three on the Grand Strand? –Joe Hernandez, Ft. Pierce, Fla.
A power trio of tracks stands out. First up: Caledonia Golf & Fish Club ($110-$200; 843-237-3675, fishclub.com), next to the Waccamaw River. It hooks me with Lowcountry charm and a superior closing hole.
Next is the Dunes Golf & Beach Club ($75-$225; 843-449-5914, thedunesclub.net), an early Robert Trent Jones Sr. masterpiece that tests your approach game, notably on the watery stretch from No. 11 to No. 13.
My surprise bronze medalist is Barefoot Resort's Love course ($65-$185; 866-638-4818, barefootgolf.com). With its plantation-house ruins, Pinehurst-style greens and character, Davis Love III's layout tops those of fellow Barefoot designers Tom Fazio, Pete Dye and Greg Norman.
Dear Joe: I've got a free day in downtown Dallas, I'm looking for a bargain track, and I'd rather not travel very far. Whaddya got? –Greg Fuller, Waukesha, Wis.
Greg, can you handle a five-minute drive? Stevens Park ($20-$50; 214-670-7506, stevensparkgolf.com) has been refurbished, and the transformation is remarkable. Dating to the 1920s, the muni has a brand-new appeal, thanks to clever rerouting on a tight, hilly tract by John Colligan and Trey Kemp, the same design team that fixed up San Antonio's legendary Brackenridge Park.
Skyline views and a makes-you-think creek on six holes make Stevens a must-play for Dallas bargain hunters. Tee it up in the morning, then head to Pecan Lodge (pecanlodge.com) for my favorite barbecue in D-Town.
(Photo: USGA/John Mummert)