Review & Rating of Windswept Dunes Golf Club in Freeport, FL
Located just a few miles from Destin and Panama City, Windswept dunes features miles of spectacular white sand dunes (some up to 20 feet tall), massive rolling fairways that are a beautiful contrast of emerald green against the white sand dunes and native vegetation, water that can come into play on 6 holes, 64 bunkers (which includes the sand waste bunkers or natural sand bunkers), and very good conditions from tee to green.
Windswept Dunes opened in 2004 and was designed by Doug O'Rourke who did a masterful job of leveraging the 750 acres and it's rare unspoiled beauty. And since the course is away from the crowds there is no hustle and bustle and it's quiet and serene. Doug created a layout with a good mix of dog legs, risk reward opportunities, and strategically placed bunkers and well guarded greens that put a premium on shot making. The nature sand dunes are very playable and a welcome alternative to watching my golf ball disappear in a backyard, swamp, or lagoon like it does at most of the other Florida golf courses. It's not surprising that Golf Digest rated Windswept Dunes 4 stars.
In addition to peace and quiet, the natural beauty, and the towering sand dunes, Windswept Dunes is home to some very fun holes, some of our favorites included:
- #4 is an interesting 432 yard par 4 with a narrow rough that splits the fairway, 3 strategically placed bunkers, and a large multi-fingered bunker in front of a two tiered green with significant slope to the right
- #8 is a 581 yard par five with a great risk reward shot off the tee to try and carry more of the native sand bunker to shorten the second shot (but you need to stay out of the sand, miss the 3 smaller bunkers, and not over drive the fairway and land in the lake) to a green with 3 bunkers in the front plus back to front slope which makes it tough to get the ball close to the hole
- #11 is interesting – a short 371 par 4 with a long carry from the tips over a wetland to a dog leg left fairway with a line of 5 bunkers with mounds of thick and unplayable rough guarding one side
- #18 is a fun finishing hole with a great risk reward shot off the tee to carry more of the native area and waste bunker – watch out for the moguls that will create a very uneven lie – and shorten the approach to an undulating green guarded by a right side bunker
The Windswept Dunes greens were recently aerated and as such they were a little bumpy and slow but in excellent condition – normally they are smooth and fast, around a 10. Most of the greens are large, raised, and loaded with some combination of slope, tiers, ridges, or undulation making for a roller coaster putt. All but two of the greens are guarded by one to five bunkers as well as natural sand areas – putting a premium on your approach shots.
The Windswept Dunes fairways are generally wide and sweeping with plenty of room off the tee – but spray the ball and you're in trouble. Long natural (waste) bunkers line one or both sides of a lot of the fairways, which are also loaded with pot to large bunkers. When we played the fairways were in very good condition and the first cut was playable. Off the tee there are several forced carries as well as some great risk reward opportunities.
Sand dunes, natural sand waste bunkers, and a variety of multi-fingered bunkers help define Windswept Dunes and make it fun, challenging, scenic, and unique. The long waste bunkers have firm playable sand with very small to no lips. The other bunkers range from small deep pot bunkers to some large multi-fingered bunkers with soft thick sand and fairly steep lips.
Bottom line – an outstanding layout with some unique holes and a layout that is forgiving to challenging based on which set of 6 tee boxes you play.
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Service is good and the practice facilities are adequate. The pro shop is currently operating out of a trailer with limited golf equipment and food (sandwiches, hot dogs, snacks, and drinks). A new pro shop is in the works.