St James Bay Golf Club, An Intriguing Find On Florida’s Forgotten Coast

Most people think of Florida as high-rise beachfront condos, traffic, palm trees, crowded beaches, and Disneyland. But there is another Florida on the forgotten northwest coast. One where miles and miles of road wind their way just feet from the bays of the Gulf of Mexico with nothing more between you and the emerald water than a few rocks.

It’s old Florida, home to cracker houses, shanty bars, shrimp boats, small harbor’s, and the distinct feeling that life hasn’t changed much around these parts since the 1950s. In today’s crazy world that kind of feeling is one a lot more people are looking for. We found the perfect base to play golf and from which to explore the local towns of Carrabelle just 6 miles away and the famous beaches of St. George Island, some 25 minutes further.

Strategy and Accuracy Are the Weapons of Choice

If you’ve ever wanted to take the local long-hitting braggart down a peg or two St. James’s Bay is the ideal place to do it. Here you will find accuracy and strategy, not brute force, and strength the weapons of choice for a successful round. The course offers risk-reward choices on almost every hole and while the big hitter can take advantage of the relatively short yardage on the par fives it’s the player who keeps it in play more often who will win the day. For while the fairways are generous enough missing them is not an option should you hope to make par. 

The beautiful course meanders through the rugged natural vegetation and wetlands of Florida’s forgotten northwest coast. Each hole is its’ own little world out of sight from the rest of the course giving a unique feeling on tranquility. It also claims the distinction of being the areas only course designated an Audubon Signature Sanctuary. Wildlife naturally abounds and cranes, hawks, eagles, black bears, and of course gators add enjoyment and photo ops to every round.

Most courses and resorts, in particular, have a few throw-away holes or holes squeezed into the real estate plan where no hole should be, not St James Bay.

Many a round will not survive the stiff test offered by the 16th

There is simply not a bad hole on the course. I loved number 9 a dogleg right around a lake and the 12th a picturesque par four while the 5th and 16th are all the “golf hole” you will ever want to play.

Although the course measures only 6600 from the tips and just 6000 from the regular tees the course plays longer than it’s yardage and the cooling Gulf breezes often add or subtract a club or two depending on which way the hole is facing. 

If it’s working on your game you are after the spacious driving range and Bridgestone balls offer the perfect spot to beat balls until you enjoy the spectacular sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico just a few hundred yards away from the resort’s entrance.

Attractive Stay and Play Packages

 The 24 onsite condominiums and four villas are of a very high standard and overlook the course. There on the spacious balcony, you can enjoy a beverage while marveling at the wildlife and recapping the day’s highlights. Conveniently located just a few hundred yards the first tee you can lock and leave your car while on property. 

Casual Ambience Excellent Food

While the clubhouse set up and décor was quite average, the food was not with a full menu on par with the best restaurants in the area. I had a magnificent platter of fresh gulf seafood always a good bet in this part of the world.

The beauty of a small resort is personal service and their southern hospitality was on full display during my stay. People actually remember your name and no shuttle is required to ferry you around the facility. This is an ideal location for golf groups or couples, but I’d stick to match play or Stableford to get full enjoyment from your trip and bring a few extra balls just in case.

 At a Glance

  • Located 47 miles South West of Tallahassee 100 miles southeast of Panama City, Florida.
  • 18 holes surrounded by nature
  • 24 condominiums and four villas
  • Two pools and two tennis courts 
  • Excellent dining available in the casual clubhouse
  • Local attractions include St Georges Island, Carrabelle, local fishing