The Local Knowlege


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. 


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


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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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. 


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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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. 


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


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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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. 


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 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 for more details on the venues and deals. 

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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. 


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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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. 


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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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. 


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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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. 


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 World Travel 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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