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A tweet to @GolfAdvisor at 2:17 a.m. shows just how serious Brad Bonner takes his golf buddies trips.
He's losing sleep at night wondering where to go.
For this particular trip, he's considering the Florida Panhandle, which is home to a great variety of golf courses and resorts to choose from.
@GolfAdvisor Please tell me your most candid thoughts on buddies trip to WaterColor Inn, Camp Creek and Shark's Tooth? Thanks!— Brad Bonner (@bonner_brad) August 14, 2014
Thanks for the tweet, Brad, because it brought back great memories of the Florida Panhandle. It's been a while since I stayed at the posh WaterColor Inn & Resort in Santa Rosa Beach, although I am still confident that it will deliver a fantastic experience.
Playing the two private clubs in nearby Panama City Beach is the clincher. Camp Creek Golf Club, designed by Tom Fazio, and Shark's Tooth Golf Club, designed by Greg Norman along Lake Powell, are both demanding and immaculately groomed. Perhaps it's a sign of exclusivity that, to date, nobody on GolfAdvisor.com has reviewed Shark's Tooth. Of Camp Creek's 22 reviews on the Web site, 17 are five stars. User "Jallen62" titled his review, "Best course in Panhandle."
"There were 4 blades of grass that weren't perfectly cut:) This is an awesome golf course!!!" he wrote. "Beautiful, challenging and would be considered in great shape by PGA tour standards. No trick holes, just gorgeous manicured perfection with superfast greens and a staff that could teach customer service lessons to golf courses everywhere."
A unique third option settles all bets. Davis Love III built the six-hole Origins Course as a playground for families and beginners, but golf groups should give it a spin as well. I won the last skin (and a bit of quid) to finish off a fun but chaotic eight-man shootout on the Origins during my stay. Sometimes, it pays to have friends who play poorly.
Few accommodations in the Panhandle can compare to the luxury of the 60-room WaterColor Inn & Resort, a lauded destination since opening in 2002. Blending beach house casual with modern day chic, the inn cozies up to a sandy beach. Pools, hot tubs, restaurants, kayaking, nature trails, biking, tennis facilities and the InnSpa spark a high rate of repeat visitors. I'm salivating at the thought of eating again at the Fish Out of Water restaurant.
If you're looking for nightlife, head toward Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in Destin, a mega-resort with a village of bars and restaurants right on Choctawhatchee Bay. My recommendation, though, would be to stick around charming Seaside, a master-planned community where "The Truman Show" was filmed in the 1990s. Killer sunsets, food and drink come courtesy of Bud & Alley's.