Greens, fairways and the ocean breeze: Golf in Destin

Savannah Chastain
From left, Casey Bergeron, Hunter Gray and seven-year-old Carter Bergeron tee-off at hole 9 on the Creek course.

Golf has a long history as a relaxing summer pastime and the pristine greens, long sloping fairways and salty ocean breeze make Destin’s golf courses a thing of envy to golfers nationwide. One of Destin’s original courses, Indian Bayou Golf Club first opened in 1978, and as a semi-private course, offers tee-times to members and visitors alike.

“It’s just a good golf course that’s been here for a long time,” said General Manager and Head Golf Professional Jim Carpenter. “It’s wide open which appeals to both experienced golfers and the novice.”

 Indian Bayou keeps its rich local history with 9-hole course names highlighting the regional Native American tribes of Seminole, Choctawhatchee and Creek tribes.

“Being on the Indian Bayou, the names just naturally came about,” said Carpenter.  “We have 27 holes which is an unusual number. The third nine was opened in 1992, back in the hay day of golf.”

When asked what makes Indian Bayou Golf Club unique, Carpenter said, “The playability of it, and the conditioning. The putting surfaces are the most critical place for everything to be right.”   

Featuring a hybrid Bermuda grass called TifEagle on the putting greens, Carpenter told The Log that Indian Bayou was the first course in the area to implement the strand allowing a lower-cut turf, and a more consistent finish.

“It’s part of the success and yields a putting surface you can do so much with,” said Carpenter. 

Golf course superintendant, Wil Wilbourne agreed, but said the upkeep on the grounds is what truly makes the course a local favorite.

“The amount of work that goes into it as far as the greens themselves is around 125 man-hours per week,” he said. “It requires much more coordination and planning to get all of our work in and still be able to accommodate the demand for play.”

 Cruising around the course on one of the club’s 108 golf carts, it wasn’t long before a group from Houma, La. confirmed Carpenter’s course assessment.

“Every year we come play here, it’s got the best greens and the best fairways in the panhandle,” said Casey Bergeron.

“Everything is set up real nice, and these are friendly folks,” added Bergeron’s brother-in-law, Hunter Gray. 

Over on the 10th hole, local Tim Broom of Half Hitch Tackle was spotted putting in his ball with a birdie. When asked his reason for choosing Indian Bayou as his golf course of choice, Broom did not hesitate to answer.

“Oh that’s easy,” he said. “Indian Bayou is by far one of the best golf courses in the Southeast. These greens are as good as you will find anywhere in the Southeast, and they stay consistent.”

Indian Bayou also offers a variety of services within the club house including a golf pro shop, men’s and women’s locker rooms, and a full-service restaurant and lounge. For those who prefer not to bring their golf clubs on vacation, Indian Bayou has clubs available for rent. A staffed snack cart also patrols the course offering packaged foods and a variety of sodas and beers for mid-game refreshment. Indian Bayou Golf Club is located at 1 Country Club Drive East. For more information visit www.indianbayougolf.com or call 837-6191.

WANNA GO?

Destin has several golf courses to enjoy. Here are some that offer tee times for members and visitors alike.

Kelly Plantation Golf Club

Regatta Bay Golf Course

Indian Bayou Golf Club

Emerald Bay Golf Club