The Florida Panhandle's unbeatable twosome: Great golf and Gulf Coast seafood

Jumbo shrimp steamed in Creole seasonings, grilled red snapper and oysters on the half shell are some of the delicacies you can savor in the Florida Panhandle.

After a round of golf, there's a great lineup of waterfront restaurants, crab shacks and oyster bars to conclude your day in hush puppy heaven.

Equally impressive are the golf course offerings in the region, where notable architects like Tom Fazio, Rees Jones, Greg Norman and Fred Couples have designed exceptional layouts.

Panama City Beach

The Nicklaus Design team is represented in the Panhandle at Bay Point Resort with the Nicklaus Course , a risk-reward layout that includes awesome views of the Grand Lagoon and St. Andrews Bay. A second course at the resort, the Meadows Course , is a traditional, tree-laden beauty with bayside scenery.

Heading west, the selections are varied with options like Hombre Golf Club , a 27-hole facility that has hosted a Nationwide Tour event and PGA Tour Qualifying School, and Holiday Golf Club , a complex that includes an 18-hole championship course, lighted par-3 course and lighted driving range.

At the west end, Shark's Tooth Golf Club , designed by Norman, is a picturesque layout that winds around Lake Powell and was rated no. 21 in Golf Digest's "Best Courses in the State" in 2013.

Across the Phillips Inlet Bridge toward Seaside and other coastal villages on Highway 30A are layouts like Fazio's Camp Creek Golf Club , a wonderland of white sand dunes, tall pines and wetland areas with no homes lining the fairways, and Origins Golf Club , a unique Davis Love III design that plays as a six-hole regulation course, nine-hole executive course and 10-hole par-3 course between 1,600 and 1,800 yards.

Dining suggestions: In downtown Panama City, try Hunt's Oyster Bar, Captain's Table and Shrimp Boat. In Panama City Beach, try Capt. Anderson's Restaurant and Waterfront Market, Boon Docks, and Shuckum's Oyster Pub & Seafood Grill.

Destin/Fort Walton Beach

For resort play, the Destin/Fort Walton Beach area has two premier properties.

Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in Destin, an amenity-laden 2,400-acre resort, has four championship courses: Baytowne Golf Club , Burnt Pine Golf Club , Raven Golf Club and Links Golf Club . Raven Golf Club, a Robert Trent Jones Jr. design that hosted a Champions Tour event in 2006 and 2007, is a visually stunning layout dominated by marshes and pine trees.

Bluewater Bay Resort in Niceville features 27 holes (designed by Fazio and Jerry Pate) that play through woodlands and along the shoreline of Choctawhatchee Bay.

Other courses that utilize Choctawhatchee Bay and its scenic surroundings are Emerald Bay Golf Club (designed by Bob Cupp) and Regatta Bay , a private club-style experience.

Water is the main feature at Seascape Resort Golf Club , a venerable Destin favorite that has liquid hazards on 15 of 18 holes. Couples fans shouldn't miss his engaging design at the Kelly Plantation Club . The 27-hole Indian Bayou Golf Club , with three distinctive nines, is also a popular layout with locals and tourists.

Dining suggestions: In Destin, try Dewey Destin's Harborside Restaurant, The Crab Trap Red Bar, and AJ's Seafood & Oyster Bar. In Santa Rosa Beach, try Stinky's Fish Camp, and Bayou Bills.

Pensacola

If you want testimonials about the golf courses in Pensacola , how about PGA Tour pros Bubba Watson and Boo Weekley, who grew up in the area and talk up the courses.

Some of Pensacola's most popular layouts with visitors are Tiger Point Golf Club (a 27-hole facility built along the beautiful Santa Rosa Sound), The Club at Hidden Creek in Navarre (a lush Ron Garl design with rolling terrain) and Lost Key Golf Club (a spectacular target golf experience capitalizing on the beauty of Perdido Key).

Other great places to tee it up include Marcus Pointe G.C. (a mainstay since 1991), Tanglewood (where Watson teed it up a lot during his youth) and Stonebrook (with its elevated tees and greens).

Dining suggestions: In Pensacola, try Captain Joey Patti's Seafood Deli, The Fish House, Marina Oyster Bay, Shrimp Basket. In Perdido Key, try Trigger's Seafood Restaurant.

Ed Schmidt, publisher of The Golf Travel Guru Blog, is the author of two books on Florida golf and more than 2,500 articles and columns on golf resorts, courses and destinations around the world. Follow Ed on Twitter at @golftravelguy.
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The Florida Panhandle's unbeatable twosome: Great golf and Gulf Coast seafood
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