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Deal of the Week: Catch off-season bargains at Pinehurst

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After the freshly old-schooled Pinehurst No. 2's star turn at both the men's and women's U.S. Opens last year, you might be feeling like you want your own crack at it. 

Generally, that'll cost you--to the tune of $420 during peak season. Right now, the North Carolina Sandhills are at their coldest of the year, with daytime highs in the mid-50s. That means you can score a round on No. 2--or one of the other eight other courses at the Pinehurst Resort--for a slightly less-stiff tariff. 

Book the Evergreen Golf or Spa Escape and get a room at The Carolina Hotel, breakfast buffet and either 18 holes or a 50-minute spa treatment for $174 per person per night Sunday through Thursday. To play No 2., where Martin Kaymer and Michelle Wie won on back to back weeks, you need to pay a $150 surcharge, but it's worth every penny to see Donald Ross' masterpiece, brought back to its original sandy ferocity by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore. 

There are no bad choices for your other rounds, from the circa-1898 No. 1 (the first one at the resort) to Tom Fazio's No. 4--generally considered to be the second-best of the group. The most fun might be had on No. 3, Donald Ross' sporty 5,800-yard short course. If offers all of the roller coaster greenside challenges as big brother No. 2, but with short iron approaches. 

If you go, reserve one evening for dinner at the Pine Crest Inn, situated in the heart of the town. Ross bought the property in 1921 and owned it until his death. Go casual and sit at the bar in Mr. B's Lounge and take in a century of Ross-centric golf memorabilia, or sit in the dining room and have the signature 22-oz. pork chop. 

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Travel

Deal of the Week: Be a sports junkie in Tampa

Theoretically, golf should be enough to keep you entertained on that three-day golf weekend. But there's a reason Las Vegas is a popular destination. 

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Off-course entertainment matters, and Florida's Innisbrook Resort is betting that its combination of PGA Tour-caliber golf and extracurriculars will entice groups looking for a blended experience. 

Innisbrook's Sportsman's Package offers villa lodging, a daily round on one of the four championship courses on property (including the Copperhead, home of the PGA Tour's Valspar Classic) and a choice of ticket to one of four Tampa-area sporting events -- the NFL Buccaneers, NHL Lighting, the Richard Petty Driving Experience or deep-water fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. Rates start at $279 per night, per person.

Chances are you already know which ticket you'd pick. But if you're torn, consider how often you'll get the chance back home to ride along at 180 miles per hour a few feet from the wall and a certain, fiery death. If feels like your stomach is getting stapled to your spine. But in a good way.   



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Travel

Deal of the Week: Tee up in New Mexico's high desert

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New Mexico doesn't get nearly the same golf attention as its desert neighbor, Arizona--probably because Scottsdale by itself has more courses than the entire state. But the weather in New Mexico is just as good right now, with temperatures in the high 50s and low 60s, and even though there are fewer top-end destination resort choices, you can score great off-the-beaten-path bargains. 

Hyatt Regency's Tamaya Resort & Spa is situated in the high desert 30 miles north of Albuquerque and 60 miles southwest of Santa Fe. It's beautiful country--a mix of windswept dunes, mountains and surprising greenery. Gary Panks' Twin Warriors, one of Golf Digest's 100 Best Public Courses, is the signature course on the property. Threaded between sacred Tamayame historical sites, a dormant volcano, desert wash, mature Juniper trees--and even a cascading waterfall--Twin Warriors offers challenge and visual punch. You also have access to the 27-hole Santa Ana Golf Club, a self-described links course (we know, heresy...) with views of the Sandia Mountains. 

Through April 31, you can book the New Mexico Retreat Package and get three rounds of golf on your choice of the two courses, three nights lodging at the resort and breakfast and lunch, all for $900. 

If you're choosing whether to drive south to Albuquerque or northeast to Santa Fe for an off-campus excursion, opt for the slightly longer drive to Santa Fe. It is one of the finest food cities in the Southwest, with choices all along the cultural spectrum. You can stay true to Santa Fe's history as the terminus of the old El Camino Real trade route from Mexico City and have dinner at the Compound--a converted adobe home that has been serving fine Southwestern food since the 1960s. Don't ask for taquitos--they're too polite to kick you out, but you'll deserve it. Pick the grilled Angus tenderloin instead, and pair it with roasted brussels sprouts served with smoked gouda cream and bacon. 

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Travel

Deal of the Week: Only football teams don't want to visit Alabama in the winter

The Robert Trent Jones Trail's marketing conceit is straightforward: Promote the collection of 11 RTJ-designed courses owned in the state by Retirement Systems of Alabama and generate visits from golfers from both within and beyond the region. 

The quality of golf along the Trail is uniformly good, and you won't go wrong booking a time at any of them. But some have better deals than others over winter, when temperatures are in the high 50s and low 60s. Ross Bridge is conveniently located just outside Birmingham, and it has a 260-room Renaissance resort attached to it. 

Considering the course runs 8,100 yards from the tips, its Ketel One winter package is apropos. From now until Dec. 31, you can get two rounds of golf, a room at the resort, a gift bag filled with apparel and balls and vouchers for two Ketel One drinks for rates starting at $380. 

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Save the vodka for the bonkers ninth hole, a roller-coaster 518-yard par-4 from the tips that's protected by a lake, a waterfall and a fairway bunker magnetized to attract ProV1s. The Champions Tour last played an event here in 2010, and some of the older guys are just now finishing up on 18.

If you're looking to make a weekend out of it (assuming you still have balls left), fellow Trail member Oxmoor Valley is next door in Birmingham, and it has two championship courses of its own--the Ridge and Valley--built on mountainous former U.S. Steel property. You can book an unlimited play winter day rate of $77 at either course through February 8. 
 
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Travel

Deal of the Week: Hit the Dominican Republic for an all-inclusive golf getaway

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Punta Cana, Dominican Republic has long been a prime destination for experiencing perfect weather and some of the finest white sand beaches in the world--and doing it in affordable, all-inclusive luxury. 

Now, there are even more reasons to go. The Barcelo Bavaro Beach Resort is offering a hybrid golf and all-inclusive experience at its 2,000-room property--half of which is adults-only. For rates starting at $160 per night per person, you get the resort's traditional all-inclusive experience--food and drink at any of the 14 restaurants and 16 bars on property, and access to amenities like a casino and water park--plus a daily round at the P.B Dye-designed Lakes course. Threaded around 25 inland lakes and through a mangrove forest, the Lakes is the ideal combination of challenging and playable. 

It's easy to get a direct flight daily from New York, Boston, Atlanta, Miami and Charlotte, and to understand why Punta Cana is one of the fastest growing airports in the world in terms of traffic. All you have to do is look at the December weather forecast. The average high is 75, while the average low is 70.

Don't forget your passport. 

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Travel

Deal of the Week: Unfreeze in the Arizona sun

It's only mid-November and two-thirds of the country is already tired of pre-winter and the Polar Vortex. Temperatures are 20 degrees below normal almost everywhere. 

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But look at the national weather map closely and you'll see a few pockets of yellows and oranges, signifying temperatures in the 70s. One of them is over Tucson -- where late November in the Arizona desert means days in the mid-70s and nights in the mid-40s. 

If you're not ready to give up on your 2014 season yet, you can book an unlimited golf package for two at the Ritz-Carlton's Dove Mountain property -- former home of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship -- tucked into the foothills just outside Tucson. Rates start at $469 per night and include lodging, unlimited golf for two on the Jack Nicklaus-designed 27 holes, breakfast for two and a $10 gift card for the golf shop, which covers the first Pro V1 you'll blow into the wash on the par-4 471-yard first hole of the Tortolita nine. Victor Dubuisson made pars from behind every cactus last year, but it isn't that easy.  

Tucson specializes in other kinds of heat as well. The El Charro Cafe is the oldest Mexican restaurant in the U.S. continuously operated by the same family. The downtown location is the original, situated in the Flin family's converted circa-1896 stone house. You're obligated to try one of the burros served deep fried, chimichanga style. It was invented here in 1922, when the original proprietor accidentally dropped a burro into a fry pan filled with hot oil. It is decidedly not heart-healthy, but then again, shoveling two feet of snow out of the driveway isn't, either.

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Travel

Deal of the Week: Tune up your foursome at the Resort at Pelican Hill

A buddies foursome trip is usually about wagering and watering holes. If you have the budget and can travel before Nov. 26, you can add an unconventional twist at the tony Resort at Pelican Hill in Newport Beach, Calif. 

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Book the two-night Five-Star Fifth Anniversary Package and a foursome can get two nights of villa accommodations, play unlimited golf at Pelican Hill's two oceanside Tom Fazio designs, get five hours of instruction at the resort's top-rated golf academy and private chef's table breakfasts and dinners for both days for $5,000.

The Ocean South Course is known for its 270-degree views of the Pacific and the diabolical 131-yard 13th -- which has two different greens. The left one is the smaller and tougher of the two, while the right one has more tree and hill protection from the ocean breezes. The North runs out along the cliffside and offers a Torrey Pines-like experience with Augusta-caliber conditioning. Trickle long on your approach to the 558-yard 17th and you'll feel like Honolulu is the nearest point of relief. 

In addition to 36 holes of Fazio goodness, Pelican Hill has one of California's most luxurious spas, six restaurants and circular, terraced Coliseum pool overlooking the Pacific. The resort is 50 miles south of LAX and a 15-minute drive from Orange County's John Wayne International Airport. You can even come up from San Diego, 85 miles to the south, and make an intermediate stop in Carlsbad to visit Callaway or TaylorMade, or the new Scotty Cameron gallery in Encinitas. 

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Travel

Deal of the Week: Play and stay like a tour player in Napa

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In its 1970s heyday, Silverado Resort in Napa was one of California's most glamorous locations. Celebrity and sports A-listers flocked to its charity pro-ams, and its proximity to the burgeoning wine industry made it a convenient three-day weekend stop over for couples looking for a mix of golf and culture. 

Some of the shine came off in the 1990s and 2000s, when the property became, in the unkind words of one online review, not a resort but a conference center for golfers. 

An investment group led by Johnny Miller bought the 1,200-acre resort in 2010, and Miller's plan was to redesign the courses and upgrade the physical plant into luxury territory. The PGA Tour's 2014 Frys Open in October was the coming out party for all of the elbow grease. The North Course hosted Sang-Moon Bae's two-shot win over Steven Bowditch to rave reviews, and the centrally-located Mansion rooms and golfside cottage villas sparkle after extensive renovation. 

Now, you can see for yourself with an enticing late fall-early winter package. Book the His and Hers Escape and you'll get a room, round of golf on the North or South course and 50-minute spa treatment for $400 per night midweek and $579 on the weekends. You'll also receive a $50 food credit toward the resort's restaurants. 

Thomas Keller's French Laundry in nearby Yountville is the ultimate food experience in Napa Valley, but unless you're reading this in a time machine set to six months ago, you won't be able to get a table. Keller's more casual Bouchon Bistro two blocks down is a worthy runner-up prize, and you can usually walk right in for lunch. The Steak Bouchon--pan-seared ribeye served with Bearnaise sauce and frites—should get its own bumper sticker. 

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Travel

Deal of the Week: Golf with the Niners in New Orleans for Half Price

Golf can't match the NFL when it comes to tailgating, but with a half-off tee-time deal from TPC Louisiana in New Orleans, it doesn't have to. 

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If you're following the San Francisco 49ers to the Big Easy for the Nov. 9 Saints game, you can book a special Golf the Gridiron tee time on the 7th or 8th at the home of the PGA Tour's Zurich Classic for $120. The traveler-friendly rate also includes rental clubs and practice balls.

Finding something to do at night in New Orleans shouldn't be a challenge. (If It is, you need more help than GolfDigest.com can give you in 300 words...) Two authentic places to start are Clancy's and the Parkway Bakery and Tavern. Both are off French Quarter tourist path and worth the cab ride. Clancy's has been serving sophisticated meals in a quaint neighborhood setting near Audubon Park for more than 70 years. Parkway opened in 1911, and in the late 1920s popularized the po'boy sandwich, served on its fresh-baked bread. The fried oyster model is the one to get, but plan ahead. They're only served on Mondays and Wednesdays. 

If the Niners aren't your team, you can also claim the deal for a variety of other teams when they head to a city near a TPC venue. For example, you can play TPC Scottsdale's Champions course for 40 percent off and the Stadium Course for 28 percent off the weekend of Nov. 16, when the Detroit Lions visit the Arizona Cardinals. Check TPC.com for more details on the venues and deals. 

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Travel

Deal of the Week: Escape to perfect weather in Palm Springs

There's a reason fancy folks in L.A. and San Diego go to Palm Springs in the fall and winter. Temperatures sit in the high 60s and low 70s with abundant sun, and nights dip into the great-sleeping-weather 50s. The roads are wide, the steaks are large and the wine lists are lengthy. 

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If you have some flexibility to make a midweek trip, it's hard to beat Troon Golf Vacations' four-night Palm Springs Sensation stay-and-play package. For rates as low as $76 per person per night, you get four rounds at PGA West -- two at the Greg Norman Resort course and one each at the Jack Nicklaus Tournament and TPC Stadium Course -- and four nights at the La Quinta Resort and Club. The Nicklaus and Stadium courses are longtime homes of Q school's final stage, and the Norman Resort course matches plush green target areas with vast expanses of crushed marble sand and nine ponds. Rates move up to about $200 if you pick certain weekend or prime dates.  

La Quinta Resort is a comfortable place to relax at the end of the day, especially at chef Jimmy Schmidt's award-winning restaurant, Morgan's In The Desert. The farm-to-table menu changes daily, but you can almost always get the braised short ribs. And you should. 

Out into Palm Springs, reserve one morning for breakfast at Cheeky's, which features the must-order Bacon Flight -- five custom-seasoned varieties of smoked pig. If you only need one kind, order it in the Blondie's eggs benedict, pair it with your choice of fresh-squeezed juices and sit in the sun with your Wayfarers on, pretending to be Steve McQueen circa-1970. 

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