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Review: Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort

Last week I went down to Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort for business and to review their 3 public golf courses. There is a 4th golf course there but it is a private club and very limited to resort guests. Due to that I did not do a normal review but will talk about it here and share some photos.

The week started off great with a stop at Kiva Dunes Golf Club, in Gulf Shores, AL, along the way. A beautiful property I thought I had visited before but realized I had never been. Kiva Dunes is a challenging layout, yet is fair and fun if you play the correct tee for your game. Check out the video from the day -

Arriving at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort was a bit of a challenge. When booking the room there was no mention that there is a central check-in location for everything on the property. Not even the contact I went to meet mentioned it. Not a big deal as the guard gate was nice enough to point me in the right direction. From there check-in was a breeze and the staff was super friendly.

I stayed at the Bayside Condo property which is located across the parking lot from the Links Golf Course. My room had a view of the beautiful Choctawatchee Bay with a balcony you could go sit on. That was the best part about the room, however. When I walked in it was freezing cold with the temperature of the room at 66 degrees. The thermostat however was set to 70 degrees. When you would turn it up to 72 degrees the room never got colder than 75 degrees. That was comfortable enough for me but a tad on the warm side. The room also felt damp the entire time. Towels hanging after a shower would not be completely dry the next day and there were times I could see condensation build up on my phone or laptop. Not a horrible experience as the sheets were clean and the bed was comfortable enough, although on the firm side of comfortable. The Wifi was a whole other issue itself. There is no "in-room" WiFi as you get at Marriott or other hotels that ensure only those with the room access code connect to a certain part of the WiFi. This meant that the WiFi was being shared by every room and device in the entire building. At one point I was able to see that 34 devices were connected. That made trying to work on videos and upload things a nightmare. For comparison at home, I can upload edited videos to YouTube in about 10min. At the resort one time it took as long as 13 hrs.

The Baytowne Warf area was amazing. This is where the restaurants, nightlife, and so much more happen. Parking is a problem but the overflow parking is only a 10min walk away. The staff at every place I ate was outstanding, especially Roberto's Pizza. The Marina Bar and Grill had amazing food and views of the marina and bay with outdoor seating right on the water.

The beach is beautiful and easy enough to get to. There is a walking/bike path you take or there are Trams that are available from all over the resort. Unless you are staying in one of the properties that are right along the beach there is only one beach walkway for the rest of the resort. The beach itself is overcrowded and the walkway can be as well if people are all coming and going at the same time. This time of year the water of the Gulf of Mexico is cool and refreshing from this summer heat and being in the water is less crowded than trying to sit on the sand.

Now, about those golf courses. Sandestin has four golf courses on the property. The Links, Baytowne, and The Raven Golf Club's are their public access courses. Burnt Pine is their private club and has hosted Champions Tour events in the past. The public golf course all have the same amenities. Bag drop attendants, a snack bar, a first tee starter, and a beverage cart daily. The pricing ranges from $91 to $149 depending on if you are a resort guest or coming to play for the day. None have inside seating for grabbing a bite to eat but all offer food and drinks with outdoor seating. There is consistency from course to course as far as what to expect. Only The Raven has a halfway or turn shack as it does not come back to the clubhouse after 9-holes. Burnt Pine has all the typical amenities of a private club that you would expect. The best thing about every club, however, is how great the staff treats you. Very professional and always making sure you have everything you need to enjoy your golf experience.

Below is a brief about each golf course with some photos and a link to the review videos.

The Links Golf Club - The first course I played and one with the best views, having 3-5 holes playing along or with views of the bay. The Links is a short golf course but when the wind blows it can be a challenge. It is a great design and layout that is fun for all skill levels and a great course for those newer to golf. See Review Video Here -

Baytowne Golf Club - This was the second course played and the day did not go as expected. The greens were sanded that morning but only a minor inconvenience on the front 9. The back 9, however, was a different story. There were pits in the greens and uneven cut lines across many of them. The fairways were great but many of the tee boxes had crab grass growing on them or were completely missing grass in some areas. The maintenance staff did do a great job placing the tee markers in the best locations on those holes but there were still areas that were a challenge to tee the ball up, especially on par 3 holes. See Review Video Here -

The Raven Golf Club - Possibly the best design and layout of the 3 public courses. It is just missing some of the great views you get on The Links course but still has some good views along the way. I was paired with 3 other golfers, great guys, and we had a great time together. The greens on The Raven were also sanded, however, they made little difference to how the ball rolled. This is done as a precaution against the hot temperatures and was mostly only a visual issue. For some reason, they used sand that had pebbles/rocks in it and that could cause an issue if you didn't see it and get it out of your putt line. Again though the ball rolled well so only a minor issue. The rest of the golf course was near perfectly manicured and the fairways were very nice. Not as tight a lie as I like but the ball sat up on the grass as it should. See Review Video Here -

Burnt Pine - I played this course my last morning there right before driving back to New Orleans. Burnt Pine is the jewel of Sandestin. I was privileged to play here thanks to a member I met. The golf course is everything you'd expect from a private club and more. The golf course is perfectly manicured from tee to green and has some great holes that play along the bay. One is a 215-yard par 3-hole that is all carry over some marsh. (video below). Burnt Pine is a great layout and design as well. A good mix of holes offering some risk-reward while challenging the golfer. Proper placement off the tee is important on many of the holes to leave a good approach. This means it may be less than a driver to avoid a bunker or risk a big drive between hazards to leave a short iron into the green. The staff here was also amazing. They treated me so great I felt like a member.

In conclusion, Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort is a great place to stay for a golf trip that offers so many other activities to enjoy outside of golf. I didn;t have time but there is also Kayak rentals, Jet-Ski rentals, a Zip Line for kids, Tennis, and so much more. If you love golf and want to just stay on one property this is a good place to do that. There are other great golf courses that are only a 15-20 min drive away if you chose to go elsewhere. One of my favorites s close by but for this trip once I was on Sandestin Property I didn't want to leave it until it was time to come home. I just hope my next visit is a little better when selecting a room and they fix some of the issues that Baytowne Golf Club is having.


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