Fore Please... Welcome to the first round of Deej's Florida Swing, coming to you from the Baytowne Golf Club at the beautiful Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort.
The sun is beating down as I pull my clubs from the trunk at Sandestin's Baytowne Golf Club. It's Florida and it's summer, so the heat is certainly nothing new. What's surprisingly absent, however, is mother nature's air conditioning; the constant breeze usually found at these beachfront locales. Realizing there were far worse places to be in the world, I passed on the opportunity to complain, and headed for the clubhouse. Besides, my balding scalp could probably use a bit of a sun tan.
Sandestin can easily be described as a golfer's paradise. There are four courses spread throughout the complex, each with its own unique set of challenges. During my visit, The Links and Burnt Pine courses were both undergoing annual maintenance. Debating between the other two options, I decided that given its higher level of difficulty, plus the questionable skills of my playing partners, The Raven may not be our best choice. That left us with Baytowne Golf Club.
Often regarded as the most popular course at Sandestin, the Baytowne Golf Club was designed by Tom Jackson, and underwent an extensive renovation in 2005. At just over 6800 yards in length, the layout was a perfect fit for my game. Not so short that it's a cake walk, yet not too long that I start to hate life.
|The par 3 fourth hole.|
As we stepped onto the first tee, there was a line of storm clouds brewing in the distance, which cast some doubt on our ability to finish the round. So in the essence of fast play, and the fact that our foursome consisted of 1 3/4 golfers, we paired up for a little two man team competition.
After an unremarkable opening hole, the true character of Baytowne started to shine through. Nearly every hole presented a test, whether it came in the form of water, menacing bunkers, or lengthy par 4's requiring a mid to long iron approach shot.
|The difficult 7th...Left here = No Good|
I usually look to the par 5's to make up some scoring, but that wouldn't be the case here. Two out of the four par 5's measure 550+ yards...uphill. My team even quit the difficult 9th hole, following one ball in the water and yet another out-of-bounds. At $5 a pop, it was cheaper to quit while we were down, than donate any more Titleists.
The routing of the holes at Baytowne gives golfers two distinct environments. The majority of the course lies on the bay side of the Sandestin complex, yet holes 13-15 are found across Highway 98 near the beach. These holes had a completely different feel to the rest of the course, with a stiff breeze adding an additional level of difficulty. Not to mention, that the par 3, 14th hole was easily the most picturesque on the course.
|The 14th...Left Here = No Good x 2|
The Scorer's Tent
While I was unable to compare it to the other three courses, it is easy to see why Baytowne is a popular choice at Sandestin. With the exception of the 3 holes near the beach, the course was in excellent condition from tee to green. In addition, I found the $55 afternoon rate to be a good value, although I'm not sure I'd plop down the $89 the course commands in the morning from non-resort guests.
My shot of the day came on the 4th hole, which also happened to be the hardest ranked on the course. A high, swooping hook 5 iron, over a set of trees to about 12 feet. Sadly, we missed the putt...
|This one we missed...|
They say a great golf course requires a player to use every club in the bag, and getting around Baytowne needed just that. The course offers a scenic and challenging layout, that can appeal to golfers of all skill levels. Overall, we had a great day on the Baytowne Golf Club, and most importantly, my team won our impromptu match.
You'll never hear me say winning isn't everything...
~Insert Dude-like Closing Here~