Ask Travelin’ Joe: What’s the best November destination for a buddies trip?

November 1, 2017

This week our courses and travel expert Joe Passov answers your questions on Pebble Beach tee times, buddies trip destinations, where to play near New Orleans and more. Got a question about courses, travel or resorts? Visit our Facebook or Twitter page to send them our way.

What’s the best November destination for a guys trip? —​ Craig, via Twitter

So many factors make Myrtle Beach, S.C. the perfect buddies trip destination. It’s affordable, no matter what your budget. The quantity and quality of courses in tandem can’t be matched anywhere. Whether your group is low-handicap sticks or once-a-month duffers, there are multiple courses that fit your game. The ease in booking courses and hotels can’t be beat, thanks to information conduits such as Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday and a host of packagers large and small. And when your day has ended, a kaleidoscope of restaurants and nightspots await. With a November average daytime high of 69 (low of 46), you have an unbeatable buddies trip. 

If you crave somewhat warmer weather, it’s tough to top Phoenix/Scottsdale. Daytime highs range from 73-80 degrees in November, course rates are lower than they will be in January, February and March, and you have major sports in the area from the Arizona Cardinals to the Phoenix Suns to the Charles Schwab Cup on the PGA Tour Champions circuit (Nov. 9-12).

I’ve heard the only way to get a tee time at Pebble Beach is if you’re staying at their lodge. Is there really no other way? —​ Bryan Tweed, via Twitter

It’s not a requirement that you need to stay to play, though it’s strongly advised. That’s because if you’re a guest of one of the Pebble Beach Resorts properties (The Lodge at Pebble Beach, The Inn at Spanish Bay), you can book Pebble Beach times up to 18 months in advance. Casa Palmero guests (another Pebble Beach hotel), can start 12 months out.

If you’re not staying on-site, you can call Pebble Beach Golf Reservations 24 hours in advance and see what might be available for the next day, starting at 7 a.m. weekdays, 8 a.m. weekends. Occasionally, there is availability, even for a foursome, mostly during shoulder season—but even in prime time, you can sometimes luck out with a cancellation, especially if weather is a factor. Generally, though, if you’re staying elsewhere, open slots for two or more players can be hard to come by.

I’m going to New Orleans in a couple of weeks. TPC said they will be seeding while I’m down there. Where should I try to play instead? — Adam Scheider, via Facebook

Brand new, is the very old City Park layout now called Bayou Oaks. Re-opened (and re-imagined) in April 2017, Bayou Oaks’ South course is a sturdy, strategy-laced Rees Jones design stretching 7,350 yards that combines remnants of the facility’s old East and West courses, in a park-like setting that dates to 1902. Hall-of-Famers Byron Nelson, Jimmy Demaret and Billy Casper all captured PGA Tour events at City Park. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, only one of the park’s four courses had reopened—the North—until Bayou Oaks South burst on the scene. Massive, ancient oaks, handsome, if lethal lagoons and Jones’ characteristically well-placed bunkers are frequent accompaniments during the round. 

If time, budget or course difficulty is an issue, do Audubon Park. Straddling St. Charles Avenue, Audubon Park is likely the nation’s only course accessible by streetcar. The layout dates to 1898, which means it’s loaded with enormous, moss-drenched oaks. Architect Denis Griffiths re-worked the course in 2002, transforming it into a 4,220-yard, par-62; while it’s of executive length, it’s got plenty of lagoons and bunkers to spice the play. There’s no golf course in town that embodies the spirit of the city so well. The 148-yard, par-3 13th is particularly evocative, with its backdrop of the Holy Names of Jesus Church and buildings from Tulane and Loyola Universities, plus marvelous specimens of gnarled oaks.

Where do you suggest going on an all-inclusive vacation for four people?  We’re looking for something with top-rated courses, onsite meals, private lodging and easily accessible transportation options. —​ James R Finn, via Facebook

Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic serves up three courses, including a “special occasion” layout, Pete Dye’s seaside Teeth of the Dog and it offers an Inclusive Supplement that covers most of your dining, drinks and sports, though golf is a la carte. If you stay in a villa, you’re on your own for breakfast. The good news on all of this is that you get your own golf cart at check-in, making everything at the resort within easy reach. For those rides that are a little longer, such as to the marina or the Dye Fore golf course, a timely shuttle is always at the ready.

What are some of the best places to visit for a couple where one person plays golf and the other doesn’t? —​ Daniel Miles, via Facebook

I’m partial to the Westin Kierland Resort in Scottsdale. There are three solid nines for the golfer, plus two dozen other excellent courses within a 20-minute drive. For the non-golfer, it’s walking distance—and I mean, like, five minutes, to some of north Scottsdale’s best shopping, while a 10-minute drive away is more shopping in Old Town, plus innumerable art galleries and other cultural attractions. On-site is the acclaimed Agave, The Arizona Spa, whiskey tastings at a Scotch Library and private cabanas at the Aguamiel Adult Pool. 

In Florida, the venerable Breakers Resort is ideal. You’re minutes from world-class shopping on Worth Avenue in Palm Beach, while on-property is more retail therapy, along with fitness classes that overlook the ocean, an indoor/outdoor spa and a Beach Club that boasts four pools and a private beachfront. 

What’s the best course to play on Kauai? —​ Marc Sitterud, via Twitter

Wind-whipped, boldly bunkered Poipu Bay dishes out an exclamation point-filled  back nine, notably at the cliff-top, oceanside trio of holes 15, 16 and 17. Tiger Woods won the PGA’s Grand Slam of Golf here seven times in its 13-year run, while Phil Mickelson once shot 59 in winning the 2004 event.  One of Robert Trent Jones Jr.’s earliest and most spectacular creations, Makai at Princeville sports risk/reward options, lush landscaping and Pacific encounters. Hokuala’s Ocean course features four consecutive oceanside holes and a Jack Nicklaus design. With these three, flip a coin—twice.