Top 3 Destin Golf Courses

The Best by the Beach

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Besides the beautiful beach, Destin is a popular destination among avid golfers with many gorgeous championship courses along the coast.  Three of the top golf courses in Destin are Regatta Bay, Kelly Plantation and the Emerald Bay Golf Club.

Regatta Bay is truly a wonder to behold and located in a prestigious residential neighborhood just east of Destin Commons off Emerald Coast Parkway. The course is dotted with natural lakes and lagoons that magically mirror groves of towering trees in the surrounding forest, providing golfers with a journey through paradise. Many meander quite a ways beside the fairways creating a competitive challenging par 72. It was designed by esteemed course designer Robert C. Walker who was formerly the lead design architect for the legendary Arnold Palmer. The 6,894 yard course has multiple obstacles including lovely lagoons, crystalline white sand traps, rolling bunkers and natural vegetation that blend seamlessly together but on distinctively different fairways. A gorgeous columned Club House overlooks Lake Regatta with a wrap around patio serving breakfast and dinner daily along with Happy Hours from 4:00 to 6:00 pm. Special dinners are served on Thursday evenings with reservations required. Regatta Bay has achieved multiple awards including The Best Golf Course on the Emerald Coast for ten straight years in “Emerald Coast Magazine” and The Number One Favorite Golf Course in Northwest Florida according to “Florida Golf News” magazine. “Golf Digest” lists it among The Top 200 Courses in North America as well as among The Top Fifteen Courses in the State of Florida which is a remarkable rating. Rates start at $59 plus tax at the lowest range and vary considerably upward by season. It should be noted however that Ocean Reef Resorts guests receive preferred special rates here. More info is available at 850.337.8080 or at

The Kelly Plantation Golf Course is located within an exclusively gated residential community that has the legacy of being named after one of Destin’s most prominent families.  They originally owned much of the land here years ago as part of an expansive turpentine plantation. It is located just west of Destin Commons extending from Emerald Coast Parkway across to the wide expanses of Choctawhatchee Bay, comprising over 900 acres of lushly landscaped grounds.  The 7,000 yard course was created by renowned designer Fred Couples. The fairways stretch out along miles of the shimmering beautiful bay where you may look out across the waters toward the mainland.  The scenic forested setting includes pristine wetlands along with eleven lakes which feature a rich abundance of wildlife, flora and fauna. One of the lakes is quite a wonderful water hazard since it is almost eight acres in size surrounding part of holes nine and eighteen.  A 14,000 square foot double fairway separated by challenging bunkers is called The Couples Tee. Other fairways are named after indigenous plantings like Magnolia and Palmetto. The course receives a 4.5 Star Rating by “Golf Digest” and is named as among The Top 5% of Golf Courses in North America. There is also an expansive driving range with golf targets and a spacious 10,000 square foot putting green. The gracious antebellum styled Kelly Plantation Clubhouse and Grill offers casual dining and venues for entertainment. This club has private memberships but is open to the public for play. Rates range from $69 to $145 plus tax depending upon play times and include a golf cart with GPS. Additional information and reservations are available at 850.650.7600 or

Emerald Bay Golf Course

The entrance to the Emerald Bay Golf Club winds scenically past the guarded gate of this upscale neighborhood which is centered upon the eighteen hole championship golf course designed by Bob Cupp. Mr. Cupp was the senior designer for golf legend Jack Nicklaus for many years before starting his own firm. “Golf World” named him the first Golf Architect of the Year for his designs. “Golf Digest” and “Golf Magazine” named Cupp as Best Course Designer nationwide four separate times. This wonderful course provides a lovely landscaped setting within this serene gated community on the southern shore of Choctawhatchee Bay. The fairways themselves meander past a multitude of lakes and lagoons. There is “water water everywhere” on this forested course since fully two thirds of these holes have liquid obstacles. The upscale grand looking Clubhouse has high beamed cathedral ceilings with big windows that look out onto the course as well as the lovely homes beyond. The Club House and grounds received extensive renovations in 2014. A wide wrap around deck with tables off of the dining area and a patio fireplace looks down upon one of the sparkling inland lagoon lakes. The Clubhouse which exemplifies laid back elegance contains is a really nicely stocked bar, grill and Pro Shop. The Grill serves tasty appetizers, soups, salads, wraps, burgers and sandwiches. Mr. Cupp designed and supervised extensive landscape improvements on the golf course itself which included expanded greens with special hybrid Bermuda grass, several lovely new water features with bridges, newly paved golf cart paths and additional challenging bunkers.  The Emerald Bay Golf Club is semi-private since annual memberships are available but it is also available to the public for a refreshing beverage, lunch or a tasty snack after a round of golf. Standard rates for golf which include the cart are $125 before noon, $89 from noon till 3pm and $59 afterwards plus 6% sales tax. You will be happy to know that the Emerald Bay Golf Club also extends special discounted rates to guests of Ocean Reef Resorts for play. More information and reservations are available by calling 888.465.3229 or at

Have a happy round of glorious golf. Check out our extensive array of distinctive vacation rentals to accommodate your family and friends during your stay. Besides the sugary white beach, many of these luxurious homes and condominiums are conveniently close to these awesome Destin golf courses. Fine rental offerings are located throughout Destin, Sandestin, Miramar Beach and on Scenic 30A in South Walton. Also be sure to eplore our complimentary Reef Rewards program, which includes free and discounted golf!