When you think about going to Panama City, what are the first three things that pop into your mind? Let me guess - the beach, eating fresh seafood, and playing golf, right? If GOLF wasn't on your list, then let me tell you why it should be.
The Bay Point Golf Club, located at the newly-renovated Sheraton Panama City Beach Golf & Spa Resort, is the only Nicklaus Design course in Northwest Florida and it has amazing natural backdrops that include stunning saltwater marshes.
The Nicklaus Course is 7,100 yards and it takes advantage of the natural terrain of Panama City Beach. Sixteen of the eighteen holes have water hazards. The signature fifth hole offers a spectacular tee shot to an island fairway in the middle of the Grand Lagoon with a second shot to a peninsula green overlooking St. Andrews Bay.
On an overcast day when pop-up storms were predicted, my husband was able to hit the first nine holes on the Nicklaus course. Midway through his time on the course, it started to rain and began to thunder and lightning which prevented him from being able to complete the final nine.
So What Happens If It Rains?
There are a couple of things that we cannot deny - 1) a little rain never hurt anyone and 2) lightening and golfing do not go together. If inclement weather occurs while you are out on the course, the Bay Point Golf Club will provide a prorated raincheck based upon the number of holes you were unable to play. The raincheck is valid for one year or it can be used on merchandise in the Golf Club the same day.
My husband found the course to be challenging and he recommends that people new to the course bring extra golf balls. (Remember those water hazards I mentioned above?)
If you are wanting to learn how to golf or to up your game, then you need to know that there are golf lessons and clinics at the Bay Point Golf Club which is a satellite location for the DewSweepers Performance Academy. The lead instructors are Tony Ruggiero and Wayne Flint.
There are also half-day retreats that last from 1-4 days. Each day includes 18 holes of golf and lunch. (Retreats with Tony Ruggiero or Wayne Flint $750 per day.)
Don't want to bring your clubs? No worries. You can rent TaylorMade clubs at the clubhouse. There you can also purchase top apparel and accessories - think of it as a memento from the time that you played your first Nicklaus course.
Tips for Playing the Sheraton Bay Point Golf Courses
- Bring plenty of golf balls
- Download the free app (available on both iTunes and Google Play) that has the following cool features:
- Measure your shot!
- Golfer Profile with Automatic Stats Tracker
- Hole Descriptions & Playing Tips
- Live Tournaments & Leaderboards
- Book Tee Times
- Course Tour
- Food & Beverage Menu
- Book your tee time early on during your beach stay. That way if bad weather comes along, you can reschedule if necessary.
Post Game Dining Options
Playing eighteen (or nine in our case!) holes of golf can work up an appetite. Fortunately, Bar 72 is located at the Bay Point Golf & Tennis Club and offers burgers, salads, and sandwiches, as well as a full bar. Golfer Grab & Go Box Lunches are also available.
The Sheraton Bay Point Resort also has five distinctive resort dining options to choose from, including Tides, Flip Flops, and Pelicans.
Shane Miller is the executive chef at the Sheraton Bay Point Resort. Fans of Food Network's Cutthroat Kitchen and Guys Grocery Games may recognize the name - he has been a winner on both shows! Chef Shane's passion is for "the tastes found down on the Louisiana bayou and the abundance of fresh local seafood here are echoed in the menus I create for the resort restaurants and within our group and catering offerings.”
The dining area inside Tides is relaxed yet sophisticated and has plenty of windows that overlook St. Andrews Bay. It serves as a backup location for Pelicans during inclement weather. (Pelicans is an open-air beach bar at the end of the pier at the resort.)
Prime Rib Sandwich - provolone cheese, house giardiniera, kaiser roll
Tides is open for breakfast, lunch, and is moderately priced. The menu includes starters, soups & salads, handheld items (such as those pictured below), kids' items and entrees. Signature dishes feature the flavors of Chef Shane’s culinary upbringing in the Louisiana Bayou – such as the favorite Gumbo Ya-Ya and Gulf White Shrimp & Grits.
Blackened Mahi Tacos - corn tortillas, cabbage slaw, and chipotle sauce
Where are the Bay Point Golf Course and the Sheraton Bay Point Resort?
The Bay Point Golf Course is located at 4701 Bay Point Road, Panama City Beach, FL 32408. The Sheraton Bay Point Resort is located at 4114 Jan Cooley Drive, Panama City Beach, FL 32408.