Archive » October 19, 2007
TRAVEL & GOLF
By Ray Navis, Journal Contributor
The pristine white sands of Santa Rosa Beach, Florida are home to the unique WaterColor community.
This classic Southern style beach community is home to the famed WaterColor Inn and Resort, which is the only Four Diamond Resort in Northwest Florida. Water Color is the work of the St. Joe Company, whose famous Seaside Village is located just a couple of miles down the beach.
The Camp Creek Golf Club, designed by Tom Fazio, is the area’s best layout and is only open to members and guests of the WaterColor Inn.
Camp Creek is a wonderful layout and my favorite course in the entire Southeast. Fazio really had a great piece of property here, and there are very few homes in sight. Rolling sand dunes, lakes and local wildlife make this a very pleasant day on the links.
The course is not more than a mile or so from the Gulf of Mexico, creating a daily breeze. The first couple of holes are relatively easy, which gives players a chance to warm-up. This is a welcome trait which I have seen at many of Fazio’s courses.
The action heats up on the par-5 third hole which is the first part of the course you see as you drive in. This 535 yard hole features a pristine lake on the left side and sand dunes on the right. The fairway widens for the drive and second shots, but going for the green in two will require great accuracy.
Number seven is a scenic par-3 playing 193 yards. The hole runs along a picturesque lake on the left with bunkers guarding the front and right side. This hole is a great example of what I like about Camp Creek: it is a challenging shot for those low handicappers seeking a birdie, bit it also is a fair hole for higher handicappers who might choose a safer play.
The 18th hole offers views of the entire course from its elevated tee. At 450 yards from the tips it is all you need for a finisher -- water down the entire right side and sand dunes on the left. Again, as with most holes, the fairway is large enough to receive anything but a poor shot. With all the sand dunes and nature Camp Creek, it has the feeling of Cypress Point or Pine Valley, and that says a lot.
The Water-Color Inn has a casual elegance to it. Most all rooms look out over sand dunes to the Gulf of Mexico. Guests are encouraged to draw what they see and painting needs are provided. Even the shampoo and lotions come in small paint tubes.
The lobby area feeds into a restaurant area where breakfast and evening hors d’ouvres are served. The entire area is designed with a nautical theme and includes a library as well. Out the back is a large pool area overlooking the Gulf with a restaurant of its own. The beach can be accessed by a boardwalk.
The sand in this part of the world is among the best I have ever sunk my feet into. It is very white and fairly firm. Sea shells are everywhere. The water is warm and inviting.
The Water-Color Inn is located next to the Grayton Beach State Recreation along Walton County’s scenic Hwy 30A. There is a mile or two of undeveloped beach front just north of the Inn. There also is Western Lake and its boathouse just off the beach, where boats and kayaks can be rented.
Bicycling is big here, and fun for the whole family. We went for a long bike ride with the entire family. The pace of life is very civil here, and the ride is therefore relaxing.
There are many inland waterways and lakes where you might stop for a bit. Both WaterColor and Seaside have been developed with very strict architectural guidelines and are perfectly laid out. Most every activity is within walking distance of the Inn, including an upscale village with shops and restaurants. Seaside, right next door, has more of the same. Both communities have large health clubs available to Water-Color Inn guests.
The best way to get to this area would be to fly into Pensacola and rent a car. The Pensacola Airport is very easy to get in and out of, and all major rent-a-car operators are there.
From Pensacola it is about a 2 hour drive to Santa Rosa Beach and the WaterColor Inn. On the way you might want to stop and see Destin, which reminded me of Newport Beach. Destin has many great golfing venues, including Kelly Plantation and the courses at Sandestin. For more information on The Water-Color Inn visit www.watercolorinn.com.