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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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Travel

Deal of the Week: See Hemingway's Sun Valley at a discount

Ernest Hemingway came to Sun Valley, Idaho for the first time in 1939 for a lot of the same reasons visitors come now -- the incredible mountain scenery, clean air and low key atmosphere. A-listers like Tom Hanks and Mark Zuckerberg still like it because they can walk around relatively unbothered and enjoy two distinct recreation seasons -- golf and skiing. 

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When you go, you can stay at the same resort Hemingway did. Suite 206 in the iconic, x-shaped Sun Valley Lodge -- where Hemingway finished writing For Whom the Bell Tolls -- isn't a part of the resort's fall Aspen Glow promotion, but you can get a standard room at the Lodge or related Sun Valley Inn and a round of golf at the Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed Trail Creek course for $179 per person through September 28th. A night in the Lodge normally starts at $324, and the green fee ranges from $79 to $149.

Don't let all of the snowy photographs of Sun Valley's world-class Bald Mountain ski area trick you. The average daytime high in September is still in the low 70s early in the month and mid 60s late, while average lows dip into the 30s. Play 18 holes and take meandering fall color tour around nearby Warm Springs, where Hemingway spent his final years in a house overlooking the Wood River. 

Head back to the Lodge afterward and lose the jackets and go for a nighttime swim in the famous circular outdoor pool adjacent to the lobby. It's open year round and heated to 102 degrees, perfect for nursing a cocktail and looking at the stars. 

The Hailey airport is 14 miles from the resort, and it has daily non-stop flights from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, Salt Lake and Seattle.
 
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Travel

Deal of the Week: Fall savings at Southern California's La Costa

The weather in San Diego is ideal any time of year, but fall is especially nice. Daytime temperatures sit in the mid-70s and "drop" to the high 60s at night. It's the perfect time to enjoy a quick getaway to La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad. 

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La Costa's sports pedigree is nearly unmatched. Its Champions course was the site of the PGA Tour's champions-only Mercedes Championships from 1969 to 1998, seven editions of the WGC-Match Play from 1999 to 2006 and the LPGA's Kia Classic in 2010 and 2012. Its tennis center has hosted a women's professional event since 1971. 

To celebrate the recent $10 million renovation of the Champions course, the resort is offering a variety of discounts on its popular stay-and-play packages. The $199-a-night Experience package includes a room for two and $90 in credit toward green fees or $45 in credit toward spa treatments per person. The Golf package starts at about $430 per night and includes room, breakfast, unlimited golf for two and a $50 credit toward lessons at the practice center. 

After playing the new 493-yard, par-4 14th, you might need that lesson -- if only to rebuild your shattered confidence. The same creek protects the left side of the hole off the tee and threatens your lay-up when you inevitably realize you won't get home in two. 

Book either package by Aug. 24 to get the best deal.

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Travel

Deal of the Week: Buy two and get one free at the new Disney Four Seasons

Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando will always be the place to release your inner 10-year-old. But that doesn't always mean you want to sleep in a bunk bed. 

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As of Aug. 1, that just got easier. A sprawling new 443-room Four Seasons hotel opened on the property, offering the first true luxury experience at the mega-theme park. Room rates start at about $550 (vs. about $100 at one of the standard themed hotels), but as a part of the grand opening festivities, you can get one room free for every two consecutive nights you book. The offer is good until Dec. 19 and includes access to both the adults-only pool and family-friendly lazy river and water slide on property. Even if you don't use the dedicated Disney concierge in the lobby to set up your day at the theme parks, you can sit at the rooftop lounge overlooking Cinderella's castle and watch the nightly fireworks. 

Disney's resort golf courses have long been favorite wintertime destinations for both vacationers and the PGA Tour. The Palm and Magnolia courses have hosted tour events and are considered to be the best of the four 18-hole tracks. The Tom Fazio-designed Tranquilo Golf Club adjacent to the Four Seasons might be familiar from a different visit. It used to be called Osprey Ridge, and it will reopen Sept. 1 after a light facelift during construction of the hotel.  

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Travel

Deal of the Week: Stay and play at Arcadia Bluffs

By Matthew Rudy

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Northern Michigan's Arcadia Bluffs has million-dollar views from its position high above the Lake Michigan shoreline. Now, it can be had for a good bit less.

Normally, you'd pay $180 to play one of Golf Digest's Top 100 public courses in prime summer season. But with Arcadia's Sunday Night Special, you can book a Sunday tee time and stay overnight afterward in one of the 15 guest suites on the second floor of the clubhouse for $270 per person, double occupancy. That's $140 off the regular rate, and good through Sept. 28. The deal also includes breakfast for two in the Sunset Grill, which has panoramic views of the lake both inside and out on the patio. Stop by after your round as well, as it's perennially listed as one of the best 19th holes in golf for the view, big-screen televisions and comprehensive list of craft beer, bourbon, scotch and wine.    

Arcadia's front nine plays like a sweeping Scottish links, with the lake tumbling into view as you crest a rise on the fourth hole. The back nine tightens up through gullies protected by mature heather and deep bunkers. If you turn to your left on the lakeside 12th tee box and hit a ball, it wouldn't make landfall for 60 miles, in Kewaunee, Wis. Four of Arcadia's most severe greens -- the seventh, 10th, 17th and 18th -- were given facelifts over the winter to make them slightly more accommodating. The 10th was a particularly nasty welcome to the back nine, with a false front and horizontal ridge on either side of a giant sod-faced bunker.     

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Travel

Deal of the Week: Plays and rays at Troon North

By Matthew Rudy

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It's a dry heat. 

Scottsdale probably isn't your first pick for a summertime game, with temperatures in the 90s by 8 a.m. and 110 by lunchtime. But many of the best resort courses in the Phoenix area are doing their best to drum up play during this traditionally slow period. 

Troon North is offering one of the best -- and most clever -- embrace-the-heat deals. You can play 36 holes on either the Tom Weiskopf-designed Monument or Weiskopf/Jay Morrish-designed Pinnacle and get a pair of Maui Jim sunglasses for $199. The Maui Jims usually retail for more than $200, so you're getting shades with a nine-hour suntan thrown in for free.  

The offer is limited to the first 150 customers who buy it through the Troon North e-store, and is good through Aug. 16. 

If you don't need the glasses, you can make a golf-only deal for $125. That leaves plenty of cash left for an Arnold Palmer in the air-conditioned Dynamite Grille or a rehydrating spa treatment at the Four Seasons next door.
 
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