Stay at the Ritz at Half Moon Bay 0 3

(HALF MOON Bay, Calif.) Feb. 10, 2011 — The Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay is offering unlimited-play stay-and-play packages: $475 per night for singles and $615 for two players. More.

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Coosaw Creek: A Value Golf Gem in North Charleston 0 42

Coosaw Creek Clubhouse

Nothing Better than a Laid-back Club with a Great Price

On a previous trip to South Carolina to review Wild Dunes Golf Resort on the Isle of Palms north of Charleston, I neglected to mention of sweet little semi-private course, Coosaw Creek Country Club, in North Charleston.

Coosaw Creek Country Club, North Charleston, S.C.Coosaw Creek is my kind of country club. First they let riff raff like me on. Second, it’s friendly, laid back and relaxed — so much so that, I swear, had I simply loaded my clubs onto one of the carts at the staging area and headed for the first tee without talking to anyone, chances are the starter would have simply waved as I drove by.

On the drive in from the guard shack, I could see that Coosaw Creek is a tight little track that winds through its surrounding residential community, with mature trees lining the course that largely form its character and define its shot values. When I learned that Arthur Hills had designed it in 1993, I knew I was in for a treat.

Since I was a single and no one else was on the tee sheet, the folks in the golf shop said to head out alone. I played a match between Mr. Titleist and Mr. Srixon, basically lollygagging around the course. I noted from the many swing sets and toys in the back yards this was a families-with-kids neighborhood, as opposed to a second-home crowd.

Another single caught up to me on the 15th hole and we played in together. Turns out he and his wife were brand-new transplants from Minnesota who had been enticed by the same relaxed air of their new club.

At 6,600 yards from the tips, Coosaw Creek is hardly a bomb-and-gouge course — mostly because most people not named Bubba Watson can’t bend a driver as hard as you’d need to cut the corners.

Because of the narrow fairways, Coosaw Creek is all about shot placement off the tee box. Playing from the blended blue-white men’s tees, I played most of its 6,300-yard length hitting long irons and hybrids off the tee. Although I’m not a long hitter, I found myself short of the green in two on only a few of the par 4s.

At $79 for a weekend round ($69 on weekdays) Coosaw Creek gives you plenty of value for the money. Most buddy-trip golfers know that on getaways to big-dollar destinations, there’s almost always a practice round on Arrival Day or a final round on Getaway Day. For anyone looking to play the big-name courses around Charleston, Coosaw Creek is a strong candidate for that extra round.

Dan Vukelich, former editor of Sun Country Golf magazine, in Albuquerque, N.M., is the editor of ABQ Free Press, an alternative newspaper. He is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America and the Golf Travel Writers Association. Reach him at dan@freeabq.com.

The Perfect Match: Spring Training and Golf 0 36

TPC Scottsdale

Life is Good at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

Golfers are genetically disposed to shop for deals when they travel to warm-weather golf destinations such as Phoenix, so this may sound counterintuitive:

Stop shopping and remember three words: TPC, Scottsdale and Fairmont – the single best golf value you’ll find this winter.

TPC Scottsdale 15th holeHold on, you say. “He’s talking about a golf course that charges $299 for 18 holes like it’s a bargain. Is he on crack?” for those of you heading to the Valley of the Sun to catch some of Major League Baseball’s month of spring training, Allow me to explain.

The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, a sprawling AAA 5-diamond property, has standard hotel and private condo options, all of which qualify as “luxury” by any definition of the term.

For nongolfers, the resort has proximity to shopping and a luxury spa. For golfers, its golf concierge has a special relationship with the TPC (translation: clout to get a tee time) plus a free shuttle for you, your clubs and your buddies to and from the course.

Spring Training

Team                     Park                              Town

White Sox           Camelback Ranch       Glendale

Dodgers               Camelback Ranch      Glendale

Brewers               Maryvale Park             Phoenix

A’s                        Hohokam Park            Mesa

D-backs              Salt River Fields          Scottsdale

Rockies               Salt River Fields          Scottsdale

Royals                 Surprise Recreation    Surprise

Rangers              Surprise Recreation    Surprise

Indians               Goodyear ballpark       Goodyear

Reds                    Goodyear ballpark       Goodyear

For folks who like an added measure of exclusivity (and you know who you are), there’s the resort’s Fairmont Gold section, a group of 69 separate condos with private lounge, honor bar, hot continental breakfast, secure parking and what seems like a battalion of staff ready to do guests’ bidding.

The TPC golf experience is rock solid, unlike anything else you’ll find in Arizona or in Florida. The forecaddies who run ahead and spot your ball are so good reading their greens that when they say two balls out, they mean two balls out, no more, no less.

And there’s the 16th hole on the Stadium Course, where you can get a sense of the Roman Coliseum drama during the Phoenix Waste Management Open of playing a tee shot inside a stadium bigger than most minor-league baseball parks.

The TPC’s practice facilities are as superb as are the course conditions. If you’re on the range and hitting out of a divot, it’s because you just made that divot. And the clubhouse and on-course service is attentive but not intrusive.

Now, let’s talk about that $299 greens fee.

That’s the daily-fee rack rate. Only a cigar-chomping fat cat who just rolled up in a limo without a tee time pays that.

fairmont-scottsdaleInstead, sign on for a TPC stay-play package through March 31 that gets you three nights at the Princess, a round at the TPC Scottsdale Stadium Course, another round at the TPC Champions Course (no slouch of a course, by the way), commemorative bag tag, forecaddie and range balls – all for $579 per golfer, double occupancy.

Also included in that deal are three hours of personalized instruction at the TPC’s TOUR Academy, free club rentals if you need them, and 50 percent off for a day at the Fairmont spa.

If you do the math, you’ll see that sometimes the ala carte discount option isn’t always the right play when the goal is scoring real golf value.

Dan Vukelich, former editor of Sun Country Golf magazine, in Albuquerque, N.M., is the editor of ABQ Free Press, an alternative newspaper. He is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America and the Golf Travel Writers Association. Reach him at dan@freeabq.com.