The Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort offers four courses, however one is a tricker tee time to land than the others. Those who wish to play the Burnt Pine course will need to make tee times either earlier than 8 a.m. or after 1 p.m. (which can be quite toasty during the warm season).
Does its relative exclusivity make it the gem of the resort? There will certainly be advocates for the Raven course, but Burnt Pine holds its own. The front nine of the course lives up to the name (at least the “pine” portion), maneuvering through pine forest and wetlands. The second half closes in more epic fashion, however, with views of Choctawhatchee Bay, for a total of 7,000 yards from the back tees.
The rivalry between Burnt Pine and Raven goes a little deeper than golfers taking sides: Burnt Pine is a Rees Jones and Raven is a Robert Trent Jones design...a father-son duel. Interestingly, this is the only location in the world hosting a course designed by both.
Burnt Pine screams Rees Jones and it screams modern golf. While neither of these is my cup of tea, the course is pretty and worth playing. There is water everywhere and forced carries and it makes it a difficult track. It seems at some point, even low cappers would have a blow up hole somewhere, I certainly did. I will say that of the courses in Sandestin, this was probably the best in my opinion. So if you are on a family vacation there, I'd encourage you to play it. Just bring an extra sleeve or two.
Burnt Pine is a challenging golf course. Don’t take my word for it. Just ask the USGA. The 5910 yard tees slope at 137. No doubt the presence of water is one factor. The liquid stuff comes into play on all but 6 holes, including forced carries on three of the four par 3 holes. It also gets a bit monotonous. On the first ten holes, any water is always on the player’s left. Then it’s all on the right on holes 12,13,15,16,17.
The long distances from green to tee creates a separation that makes even the good holes less memorable. And only four tee shots require much strategic thought and only one par 5 (the 2nd) makes the golfer think on the second shot. There are some redeeming features, the most apparent being the interesting green complexes.