Afloat and Adrift at Regatta Bay

What you see is what you get. This photo, looking back at the 18th green, pretty much sums up Regatta Bay.

Regatta Bay is a pretty good name for a golf course, calling to mind swift vessels, salty ocean air and the sporting life. It doesn’t particularly have much to do with this course, however. You can almost see Choctawhatchee Bay from one of the holes but otherwise there’s no sea or sea-like qualities, and the marina where all the really big boats in Destin are kept is several miles away. If you were going for accuracy a more apt name would be “Wetland Jump.”

The course and upscale (though lightly built-out) development are carved from the murky thickets off the Bay’s south shore. The holes journey out through jungle and have to travel over and across wetlands and contend with manmade lakes at the center of the property.

Several holes including the 9th and 10th have island fairways chunked out of the wetlands that need to be carried on the drive and again on the approach shots. All told about a dozen holes require some degree of forced carry, and the sideways vegetation is so thick that if your miss it, just move on. This is what they mean when they say “target golf.” And “Florida golf” too.

One of the heroic carries at the par-3 8th (photo by Blair Howard)

It may not sound like a lot of fun but the design embraces the challenge and actually plays with a degree of aplomb. It’s highly stylized (though not my style) with bulkheads around the lakes and some interesting mowing patters, but the flashed, clean-edge bunkering is attractive on this type of lowland tropical site. And on a low, wet site where drainage is issue #1, the requisite water hazards manage to orient themselves heroically without being purely penal. (85)

Regatta Bay Golf & Country Club


Architect: Robert Walker

Year: 1998


Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)