Kelly Plantation Golf Club is billed as “The Crown Jewel of the Emerald Coast” and for once the course matches the hype. Located in Destin on Florida’s “Redneck Riviera" along the Choctawhatchee Bay, Kelly Plantation is the course that Fred Couples designed with Gene Bates, who served with Jack Nicklaus design in the mid 1980s.
Kelly Plantation is laid out on the site of Mattie and Coleman Kelly’s former turpentine plantation and the 7099-yard course opened for play in 2003. With water everywhere, you’d imagine Kelly Plantation to be an exacting test but with generously wide fairways, the challenge centres on the contoured greens where plenty of strokes can quickly slip away, especially on the massive, double greened 7th/11th.
Avoid the “Couples” tees unless you are feeling on top of your game and choose the Plantation, Palmetto, Sterling or Magnolia tees, named after local flora. And keep an eye open for drilled holes at the base of some of the trees on the property, these are old turpentine drain holes.
A great course if looking for somewhere to play in Destin. A Fred Couples design which I found a lot of fun to play. I've played it a few times and the conditions are always great with pure and receptive greens.
I played Kelly Plantation last month while visiting Tallahassee, largely due to the fact that it’s rated the #1 course in Florida by Golf Advisor. Last October I was at Streamsong and I can tell you now that Kelly Plantation is not the best course in Florida and it’s frankly an insult not only to Streamsong but also Seminole which I played last year for the first time. Locally, I actually preferred Indian Bayou to Kelly Plantation.
I’ll be honest I loathe playing golf through residential developments especially when the $ rate is north of $100. There’s nothing at Kelly P to warrant its current high ranking on this site. The greens were like concrete and wouldn’t hold even the crispest approach shot. I’m afraid I can’t recommend it and was disappointed after hoping for so much more. What on earth is Golf Advisor thinking? Give me any of the courses at Orange County, Sawgrass, Doral or Disney ahead of this one.