Q: I’m taking a short Panama City, Florida golf vacation and I only have time to play one round of golf. Is there a “must play” layout among Panama City golf courses near the airport that I should try? David B., Suwanee, Georgia
A: The true “must play” layout among Panama City golf courses is Camp Creek Golf Club, which lies about 40 minutes away from the Panama City-Bay County International Airport, which has one of the longest airport names we’ve ever seen.
Be advised, however, that Camp Creek is a “resort private” course, meaning that it’s open only to members (and their guests) and guests of the WaterColor Inn or those who rent homes from the affiliated St. Joe Company for their Florida golf vacations.
Not ideal, we know, but this impeccably maintained, Tom Fazio design is worth it. Not only is it extremely scenic, but on any given shot, you’ll be challenged by vast waste areas, lakes that run the length of fairways, knee-high grasses, trees, bunkers, and the irrepressible wind. It carries a formidable 152 slope from the tips and Fazio adds intimidation by making the landing areas look narrower than they really are. Strokes can also add up quickly on the enormous, fast, and undulating Tifeagle greens.
After Camp Creek, we would direct you to the following Panama City golf courses that are a lot more accessible to the public.
First, try the Bay Point Marriott (marriottbaypoint.com), about 10 miles from the airport. You do not need to be a hotel guest to reserve tee times on its two courses, Meadows and Nicklaus. Of the two, play the Jack Nicklaus design. It’ll run you $99 compared to the Meadows’ $79, but it’s a far better experience.
Also within 15 miles of the airport, but in opposite directions, are the Bay Dunes Golf Club (baydunes.com), and the Holiday Golf Club (holidaygolfclub.com). Both are respectable, daily-fee, Panama City golf courses that won’t cost you an arm-and-a-leg. Bay Dunes, a rolling, inland course, is the less expensive option, at $36-$45. Holiday, just a mile from the ocean, charges $65.
It’s too bad you only have time for one round. But you never know; a delayed flight here or there might give you just enough time to experience another one of these fine Panama City golf courses on your Florida golf vacation.
Our complete, in-depth report on the Camp Creek Golf Club, which includes advice on playing the course, additional lodging options on and off-site, excellent dining recommendations, and reviews of other premier Panama City golf courses, was recently published in the April 2008 issue of our flagship publication, Golf Odyssey. To get instant access to it, Click here for a free trial. We’ll send you the current issue of Golf Odyssey AND give you instant access to our online archive, an easily searchable, online library containing every unbiased intelligence report we’ve published since the year 2000! Need to research a trip? Click here and you’ll get all your questions answered in seconds.
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