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Deal of the Week: Do Myrtle Beach on the cheap in the fall

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina is the grandaddy of the golf getaways, with more than 30 years of dedicated winter foursomes and "guy getaways" in the rear view mirror. A decade of consolidation in a down economy has trimmed some courses from its ranks, but Myrtle still has a wide and varied collection of tracks -- and fall deals to match. 

Mystical Golf's Gold and Silver packages are some of the best. On a three-day, three-night Gold trip in the month of November, you can play four rounds on any of three top-rated courses -- The Witch, The Wizard and Man O'War -- stay course-side in a three-bedroom golf villa and get your meals covered, all for a starting price of $106 per person per night, depending on dates. You even get two beers a day as you play. If you're interested in making your own plans for breakfast and dinner, the Silver package includes all of the above except breakfast and lunch, and starts at $96 per player per night. 

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Of the three courses, Man O'War inspires the most cell phone photography with its island greens and giant white-sand bunkers. Golf Digest gives the Dan Maples design four stars, and the regular green fee is $110. The Wizard is a pleasant mixture of Scottish-style mounding and Disney-caliber man-made lakes, and the Witch offers a more low-key circuit through mature trees and around natural wetlands. Both are Maples designs -- and Golf Digest four-star courses -- as well. 

Off campus, Myrtle Beach is more about chain restaurants than fine dining, but you can still find a great steak and some fresh seafood. 21 Main in North Myrtle Beach has a 40-ounce dry-aged USDA prime tomahawk ribeye for $65 -- half of what you'd pay in metro New York City. Captain Dave's Dockside Restaurant in nearby Murrell's Inlet offers simple, meticulously prepared charcoal-grilled seafood in a waterfront setting. And after your Sunday round, catch the NFL action at Murphy's Law -- a little slice of Pittsburgh in the Low Country. 


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Travel

Deal of the Week: Celebrate a century at Atlantic City's Seaview Resort

At a time when many of Atlantic City's downtown casinos have lifespans measured in months, a resort just outside of town is celebrating its 100th year in business. 

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The Stockton Seaview Resort in Galloway started in 1914 as a summertime getaway for well-heeled Philadelphians and New Yorkers. The guest profile has changed a bit since then -- rooms start at about $140 in a new promotion, and the decor is more tasteful than luxurious -- but you can still play golf like royalty, and do it on a budget. 

The property boasts two 18-hole courses, the Hugh Wilson-Donald Ross-designed Bay (which opened with the resort in 1914) and the circa-1925 William Flynn-Howard Toomey Pines. Sam Snead won the 1942 PGA Championship on a composite of the two courses, and the LPGA's popular ShopRite Classic has been a fixture on the Bay for many years. Stacy Lewis shot 16-under to win the 2014 edition by six shots over Christina Kim. 

In celebration of the anniversary, you can score a variety of room and golf deals -- or just enjoy dynamic pricing deals on stand-alone or play-em-both rounds. Weekday golf rates start at $79 on either course, and you can play both for $128 -- $89 and $138 on weekends. If you're picking one, play the funky Bay, with its combination of tricky slopes and waterfront breeze. It shows a lot more teeth than its 6,247 yards might indicate. 


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Travel

Deal of the Week: Golf around the world on a private jet adventure

It probably isn't accurate to call a month-long, 14-course private-jet journey that costs almost $80,000 per person a "deal," but considering the itinerary and amenities, you'd be hard-pressed to recreate the trip for the same price on your own. 

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The "Golf Around the World" adventure starts at the Four Seasons in Kona, Hawaii, and hits nine countries in 24 days -- with stops in Fiji, Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Mauritius, South Africa and Spain -- and checks off world-class courses like the Alister MacKenzie-designed New South Wales Golf Club, Valderrama and Links at Fancourt (above).

Off the course, you won't exactly be slumming it. Accommodations are Four Seasons level and above, and you'll head from country to country non-stop on a private Boeing 757 outfitted for 78 spread-out and comfortable travelers. 

Ultra-high-end luxury tour organizers TCS Expeditions and Kalos Golf are partnering to offer the trip, which includes golf, transportation, accommodations and guidance from a team of experienced tour leaders and lecturers -- and a once in a lifetime opportunity to one-up anyone else's golf trip story, anytime. The price is $78,450 per person for the full golf itinerary on the trip, which runs from October 8-31, 2015. Non-golfers can go along for $73,950. Space is limited to 78, and reservations can be made up to a month before departure. 

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Travel

Deal of the Week: Embrace your inner rockstar in Las Vegas

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October is Las Vegas' golfing sweet spot, with temperatures in the low 80s and off-peak green fees and hotel rates. Plus, college football and NFL games fill the weekends just in case you want to, um, make a wager. 

Walters Golf is making it easy to book a one-stop three-day golf trip in Sin City with its Rock Star Golf Package. You can get three nights at the Hard Rock Hotel and two rounds at Bali Hai Golf Club or Royal Links, two of Vegas' top-rated daily fee courses, starting at $399 per person. The offer is available for trips scheduled between now and December 31. 

The Hard Rock isn't on the Strip, but it's a five-minute cab ride if you're determined to see the other casinos. Stay on property and you can eat sushi at Nobu or people-watch and margarita-consume at the Pink Taco. It'll also still be warm enough to spend an afternoon at Paradise Beach, the Hard Rock's 21-and-over pool/round-the-clock nightclub. If the UV rays don't age you, the looks you'll get from the 22-year-old socialites will. 

Bali Hai and Royal Links are owned by the same group, but they're completely different experiences. Bali Hai sits on the south end of the Strip, and offers an opulent, well-conditioned Florida-type challenge, complete with palm trees and giant powder-sand bunkers. 

Royal Links is a 20-minute drive from the Hard Rock and strip area, and is a "theme course" in the best sense of the phrase. It features reproductions of holes from 11 courses in the Britsh Open rotation, including the Old Course, Carnoustie and Turnberry. They even have a hole from Muirfield, where you can reenact your own version of this weekend's Ryder Cup. 

Bali Hai is convenient, but Royal Links is the more memorable of the two. The package lets you play a round at both, so you won't be forced into a choice. 
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Travel

Marriott is offering college students discounted green fees

College students don't have much income but do have plenty of expenses: tuition, books, food, beverages, etc. Paying fat green fees can be a budget-buster.

loop-marriott-camelback-518.jpgScottsdale's JW Marriott Camelback G.C. (13th hole at the Ambiente Course, shown) is among the courss offering discounted rates to college students. (Lonna Tucker)

Marriott's College Links program is designed to give students a break. The program allows college students to play at the nearly two dozen participating Marriott Golf properties nationwide from now through June 1, 2015.

Students showing their college ID after 3 p.m. will be charged a discounted twilight rate ($29-$69) plus a twilight voucher for a future round.

Go to collegegolflinks.com for the complete list of participating courses.

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Travel

Places We Like: The Longoria's BBQ in Fort Worth

The basic building blocks of barbecue are universal -- ribs, brisket, pulled pork, sausage and chicken. The genius is in the execution, and Texas has no shortage of geniuses. 


A little family-run place outside Fort Worth has staked out a unique -- and tasty -- piece of barbecue ground. At The Longoria's BBQ in Everman, the specialties are variations on the classic brisket theme -- smoked brisket sausage and a smoked brisket cheeseburger.

Owner David Longoria shakes your hand when you walk in the nondescript shack just across the border of southeast Fort Worth, and he'll load your styrofoam plate with any combination of three meats. The ribs are terrific, but he isn't joking when he says people have come from Australia to try to the brisket sausage. 

Longoria's father -- who was sitting in a booth near the door during our visit -- came up with the first iteration of the spice mixture for the recipe while attempting to make venison sausage taste less gamy. Longoria and his brother substituted brisket and created a classic. It has a completely different kind of smoky zip than standard barbecue sausage links, and it's easy to taste why some large distributors are trying to come up with their own version. Longoria holds the recipe close -- so close that he torpedoed a planned segment on the Food Network's "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" because producers wanted to reveal the recipe on their website. 

The smoked cheeseburger might be the most underrated thing on any Texas barbecue joint's menu -- and the next thing you should try on your own grill. Longoria takes raw ground brisket and smokes it for an hour in the same pit he uses for his ribs. Then he takes the flavored patties and grills them like traditional burgers. Bite into it and you'll wonder why somebody didn't think of it before. 

Everman isn't exactly centrally located in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, but you can get there in 30 minutes from DFW airport. It's worth the drive. 

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Travel

Interested in an international golf trip? North Korea is available

When considering an international golf trip, Scotland comes to mind. So does Ireland. Maybe Mexico or Canada. Even North Korea.

OK, just kidding about that last one. That said, the North Koreans are promoting travel to their country, including golf excursions.

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“Under a new policy, North Korea has set a goal of luring 1 million tourists, although it has not set a time frame for doing so,” Anna Fifield, Tokyo bureau chief for the Washington Post wrote from North Korea earlier this week. “The handful of tour operators here are offering an increasingly diverse array of experiences — including skiing, cycling and golf.”

A Chinese tour operator, Ctrip, offers a “5-Day North Korea Leisure Golf Tour,” though “golf tour” is a stretch. Only one round of golf is included in the tour, on North Korea’s only golf, on the shores of T’aesong-ho Lake, where Dear Leader, Kim Jong Il, shot 38-under par, including 11 aces, in the first round he ever played. The photo above (the only one available) was taken from the North Korean Amateur Golf Open website.

The trip does include a variety of tours, including one of the USS Pueblo, the U.S. Navy intelligence gather ship that the North Koreans captured ion 1968, and another of the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) between North and South Korea. The cost for this tour, which starts in Bejing, is roughly $2,000.

Related: Golfing in the Heart of Darkness

A strong word of caution, however. The Department of State, in its latest travel warning issued in May, “strongly recommends against all travel by U.S. citizens to North Korea (Democratic People's Republic of Korea, or DPRK)…Travel by U.S. citizens to North Korea is not routine, and U.S. citizen tourists have been subject to arbitrary arrest and long-term detention.”

"[T]our operators report that the number of Americans visiting the country has dropped noticeably since two American tourists, Jeffrey Fowle and Matthew Miller, were detained in April," Fifield wrote. "Both have been charged with 'hostile acts' and Miller is set to go to trial Sunday."

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Travel

Deal of the Week: Half off Kiawah's Ocean Course


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The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island is a prime spot, and if you want to play it you'll pay prime money -- $360 in peak season. But if you're flexible on your schedule, you can score a heavily discounted rate and enjoy a night in the five-star Sanctuary Hotel or one of Kiawah's ultra-private villas. 

The Champions Choice package offers a nightly room rate of $400 for the Sanctuary and $300 for a villa and includes either two rounds on the Ocean Course or one round and dinner for two at any of the resort's restaurants. It's available from Nov. 9 to February 27, and is an almost 50 percent discount from the regular rate. If you've been previously beaten up by the big course and decide to take it easy, you can get the same package paired with any of the resort's other four courses for $300/$200. 

November and December are lovely in the Charleston-Kiawah Island area, with highs in the upper 60s and nighttime temperatures in the low 50s. Even February is playable, although you'll need a case of Chapstick to deal with the wind burn. 

Our advice? Pick the golf and spend your dinner dollars in Charleston, which has the best collection of new and exciting restaurants in the South -- from fine dining to barbecue. Old Charleston is compact and walkable, and you can find a five-star experience every night of the week. The best might be McCrady's, situated in a circa-1778 tavern building that once hosted a 30-course dinner for George Washington. James Beard Award-winning chef Sean Brock produces a four-course fixed-price menu that changes daily and includes selections anchored by locally-sourced meat, fish and vegetables. Go and roll the dice and take a happy risk. 

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Travel

Why golfers might care about the Scottish independence vote

With the Sept. 18 vote looming and polls tightening, the vote on Scottish independence does have one potentially important, life-changing consequence for golf: making a golf trip to Scotland more affordable!

First Minister Alex Salmond and the pro-independence movement have refused to say what currency an independent Scotland would use. The Pound or the Euro?

loop-scotland-independence-518.jpgShould they choose independence, Scotland wouldn't technically have the option to adopt the pound sterling -- Prime Minister David Cameron has repeatedly ruled-out that possibility as a way of pressuring Scotland to stay in the union -- but that could potentially change if the Conservative Party gets ousted in the next election.

In any case, anyone who has been overseas in the last year knows that the dollar hasn't exactly humming compared to the pound. One British pound currently equals $1.61, which is much better than earlier this summer when the pound was pushing a 1-to-2 ratio and making a Scottish golf trip cost prohibitive.

The Euro, Scotland's option for currency in an independent future, is closer to the dollar, at one Euro equaling $1.29.

Already, the independence movement's recent momentum has led to a 3-percent decline in the pound to the dollar over the last week, reports Mike Peacock of Reuters. So if nothing else, the vote has already had an impact. And yes, there are weightier issues in this battle over Scotland’s future, including what independence might do to the world economy. But when we’re talking about the possibility of a more affordable trip to the Home of Golf, we can dream can’t we?

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Travel

Deal of the Week: Tee it up in Maine's fall colors

It seems sacrilegious to be talking about color tours the same week as Labor Day, but fall happens sooner in places like Maine. The next month or so is the perfect window to piggyback a leisurely back-roads drive to see the changing leaves with a round of golf in the northern Northeast.

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Vacation packager MaineGolfandStay.com is offering a variety of fall getaway hotel and green-fee combinations starting at $99.95 per night per person. If your tastes run toward the historic, pick a round at the Donald Ross-designed gem Penobscot Valley Country Club in central Maine. Or, tick off a “Best of” box and play the top-100 Sunday River Golf Club in nearby Newry. Two fine Brian Silva designs -- Old Marsh Country Club and Falmouth Country Club -- are also options.

Rates change based on how fancy you like your hotel. Stay at the four-star Bethel Inn -- which opened in 1913 to board well-heeled patients from a nearby sanitarium -- and the packages are about $210. The Hollywood Hotel and Casino and Hilton Garden Inn in Bangor are less expensive options.

You probably won’t be getting beach weather, but you should see plenty of sun and temperatures in the mid-60s during the day. Just keep in mind Maine’s position on the eastern side of the time zone. It starts to get dark -- and chilly -- early.

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