The sheer number of things to do at Sandestin is spectacular. Take in some shopping and dining in the Village of Baytowne Wharf, ride bikes around the 2,400-acre megaresort or – duh! – spend all day on the famous sugar-sand beaches.
For golf, the options are just as plentiful. Four courses reside within the complex – Raven, Baytowne, The Links and Burnt Pine. The latter is semi-private, with tee times available for Sandestin guests before 8 a.m. and after 1 p.m.
With that in mind, how should a visitor treat Burnt Pine? As the fourth in the rotation to play after the other three courses? Add it to the “things to do next time” list?
No and no. Put Burnt Pine at the top, and grab one of those precious early-morning tee times as soon as you book your Sandestin visit. (Registered resort guests can book Burnt Pine tee times six months in advance.)
The Rees Jones-designed course is among the best I’ve played in the Sunshine State, and others agree. Golfweek Magazine tabs it 23rd-best on a Florida list of the “Best Courses You Can Play”, and Golf Magazine has called it a “Crown Jewel of Florida Golf.”
Like some of Jones’ other designs (such as his course at The Breakers in Palm Beach), water is plentiful but not the only source of intimidation. Just as much or more resistance to scoring comes from his bunkers, which range from small hollows around greens to giant chasms of sand. The par-5 second hole has a 120-yard long bunker on the left approaching the green, then that same bunker guards the par-3 second hole from the left. On the par-5 18th, two large bunkers to the front and right of the green are aligned like staircase steps.
The get-your-camera-out holes are Nos. 13 and 14, which open to amazing views of Choctawhatchee Bay. Just make sure to separate your sightseeing from the actual golf – No. 13 is the No. 2 handicap hole, a par 4 where anything right is dead, and No. 14 is a long par 3 requiring a marsh carry. Alas, my photos were far better than my swings on those holes.
Those two holes alone are worth the visit, but the rest of the course is just as strong, winding through the pines (hence the name) for a unique Florida round. No, tee times aren’t as plentiful as Sandestin’s three other fine courses, but don’t use that as an excuse. Put Burnt Pine at the top of the list, book well in advance, and enjoy.
If you go
Burnt Pine Golf Club at Sandestin
9300 Emerald Coast Parkway West