Five things you should know about golf in the Destin-Panama City area

By Travel ArticlesFebruary 25, 2013, 5:00 am

DESTIN, Fla. -- If you're considering a golf vacation in Florida, you've probably already considered the Orlando, Miami or even St. Augustine.

But if you're looking for a little different Florida golf experience, you might want to consider the Panama City/Destin area on the northwest coast.

Known as the Emerald Coast, this region of Florida differs from the rest of the state in several important ways. Side benefits include the whitest beaches in America and Southern hospitality and cooking.

The golf scene has come a long way in the last 30 years as well. Here are five things you should know about the golf in the Destin/Panama City area before you go:

Golf scene has exploded

Thirty years ago, there wasn't much golf in the area, just a few private clubs and daily fees. But as the secret of the pristine white beaches and emerald blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico started to spread, visitors started flocking to this lesser known area of Florida.

Now there are high-rise condo units and high-end hotels everywhere, and along long with them, some mighty fine golf courses. In fact, there are dozens of them, ranging from budget to some of the best golf in Florida.

The courses are also designed by some of the bigger names in the business, such as Camp Creek Golf Club(Tom Fazio), Burnt Pine (Rees Jones), The Raven (Robert Trent Jones Jr.), Emerald Bay Golf Club (Bob Cupp) and Bay Point (Jack Nicklaus). And around the courses are plenty of really good restaurants and other things to do.

Winter isn't prime season

Unlike south Florida or even central Florida, winter isn't the high season on the Emerald Coast. It just isn't as warm there, but it doesn't mean it's not a great time to play.

There are plenty of warm days, but there are some cold ones, too. Average highs in January are in the low 60s, but the 70s aren't that uncommon. And because it's not prime season, rates -- both on courses and accommodations -- tend to be a little lower.

In fact, summer is really the prime season, not because of the golf but because of the hordes of families that vacation there. Also, most of the courses don't overseed their fairways or greens, making for better transition into the spring, which along with fall, are really primetime for golf on the northwest coast.

Gotta love the water

Being on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, it's no surprise that the courses have plenty of water, but it isn't the ocean.

For example, at Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort's Links Course, it seems like just about every hole is on water of some kind. The predominant body of water in play here is Choctawhatchee Bay.

The ninth hole, a par 5 that crosses hazards three times, gives you plenty of that. And along the way are some of the best views on the Emerald Coast of Florida. Beyond that, however, there are plenty of lakes and marshes on the links. In fact, there's water on 14 holes, not unusual for courses in the area.

Learn to play a knock-down

It may not be Scotland, Ireland or Hawaii, but the Emerald Coast of Florida is seaside golf, which means it's going to be windy most of the time, often very windy.

That means it's a good idea to practice your knock-down shots before your round to keep it out of the wind. Don't have much experience with that shot? Not to worry. Just take an extra club or two and swing easy, but you'll definitely want to get a feel for that before you play.

Of course, when you get a downwind tee shot, you're probably going to want to tee it high and let it fly. There's nothing like hitting it 300 yards when the occasion calls for it.

Book a golf package

If you really want to get the most out of a golf vacation on the Emerald Coast, booking a golf package is probably your best bet, and there's plenty to choose from.

The largest resort is the 2,400-acre Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort, which offers hundreds of rooms ranging from oceanside condos to the magnificent Grand Sandestin Hotel, which features a Southern-inspired architectural design and lushly landscaped gardens. The resort also offers water sports, biking, tennis, hiking, a marina and the Village of Baytowne Wharf, where you'll find restaurants, shops, nightclubs and all sorts of entertainment in a festive atmosphere.

The Water Color Inn and Resort, just a few miles down the coast, is next to where the 'The Truman Show' was filmed. And, yes, the community, with its perfect houses and condos minutes from the beach, looks like something out of the movies. Water Color offers golf at three terrific golf courses, including Camp Creek and the private Shark's Tooth, designed by Greg Norman.

Other resorts include the Seascape Golf, Tennis & Beach Resort in Destin as well as the Wyndham Bay Point Resort in Panama City, which offers 36 holes of championship golf next to St. Andrews Bay and the Grand Lagoon.

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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.