The Golf Garden of Destin fosters putt-putt delight and club-flailing fun in a family-friendly atmosphere replete with a nine-hole executive golf course, expansive driving range, and 18-hole miniature golf course. Golfers can groom their putting stroke with a round at the putting course, where slick, faux-grass surfaces and subtle slopes coalesce to create breaks more difficult to read than a kindergartener's dissertation. The outdoor driving range keeps metal clubs and dimpled orbs on a collision course well into the evening with over 30 hitting stalls outfitted with towering lights. Duffers looking for a more immersive golf challenge can take to the executive course, where seven par 3s beckon to players still seeking their first hole-in-one and two par 4s assure that drivers and 3-woods do not abscond in search of work at the nearest sword-forging convention.
Valley Pines Golf Club challenges golfers with its nine-hole, par 35 course, stretching 2,499 yards from the longest of its four tee positions and composed to test a player's precision golf game. The David McQuary–designed course presents fairway trekkers with a manicured landscape dotted with perilous water hazards. One hole features a true island green—similar to the TPC at Sawgrass's signature 17th hole—that challenges golfers to airmail their shots over the moat and onto the island, where it will join a marooned, heavily bearded Tom Hanks.
Designed by the late Dean Refram, a former PGA Tour pro and course architect who worked with Arnold Palmer, The Golf Club at Summerbrooke's 18-hole, par 72 course bounds over a diverse landscape of rolling hills, dense groves of trees, and waterways and ravines. Measuring 6,845 yards from the farthest tees, the course begins with a relatively open, par 4 first hole, graciously letting duffers find their groove before hitting into tighter fairways and treacherous tree lines. An 80-foot-deep ravine surrounds the green of the par 3 15th, which marks the beginning of the three-hole Contemplation Corner, a climactic gauntlet that challenges clubbers with forced carries, bottomless ravines, and burbling water hazards. A relaxing finishing hole, the par 5 18th settles the nerves, letting golfers swing freely as their pin-hunting odyssey draws to a close.
Course at a Glance:
Golfers drive, chip, and putt their way across Hilaman Golf Course, a 30-year-old, par 72 layout that spans 6,333 yards of player-friendly terrain. On most holes, players look out onto wide, unobstructed fairways that invite them to swing freely with their driver or steer their golf cart blindfolded. Water comes into play on multiple holes—a small pond sits directly in front of the fourth green, and holes 11–16 strategically wrap around two large water hazards to make the back nine slightly more challenging. The course complements its 18 holes with a restaurant that serves up sandwiches and salads, a driving range for golfers to hone their game, and four tennis courts where players can learn how to hit short irons off of asphalt.
Course at a Glance:
Renovated in 1998, Jake Gaither Golf Course is a nine-hole, par 36 playground where golfers can take careful aim at distant flags and tiptoe across rolling fairways and greens to sneak up on holes-in-one. After partnering with a friend or borrowing a complete stranger, cruise the grounds in a cart while keeping watch for views of elusive birdies and eagles in their natural environment. A pair of three-ball sleeves arms players with the knowledge that the round will continue even if a few of their dimpled orbs happen to drown in a water hazard, and the facility’s practice putting area allows for pregame warm-ups to prepare for peppering greens with a variety of shots fired straight from the hips like a racketeering belly-dancer.
The par 3 executive course and two-tiered driving range at Cross Creek grant golfers of all ages and abilities ample space to perfect swings and short-game finesse. Nine crenshaw bentgrass greens allow for a relatively brisk round that frees up the rest of the day for polishing drivers and watering divot gardens.
Though the short layout makes play a relatively stress-free affair, water borders many of the bermuda-grass fairways and frequently swallows up errant shots. Both the course and the driving range feature overhead lights that click on once the sun goes down, allowing for evening excursions around the course or late practice sessions on the range's mat and grass hitting areas.