Windswept Dunes Golf Course Review

Texas Outside Rating: 8.8

Golf - Public Course · 18 Holes · Par 72
Freeport, FL
Website
Date Last Played: August 26, 2016

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Windswept Dunes Golf Course Review

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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Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Black 7,295 74.4 130
Gold 6,982 73.1 128
Blue 6,533 70.9 124
White 5,977 67.5 117
Red 5,173 69.0 112

Course Information

Course Architect:
Doug O'Rourke
Greens Type:
TIF Eagle
Greens Condition
9.0
Greens Difficulty
8.8
Fairway Condition
8.8
Bunker Condition
9.0
GPS:
No
Walkable:
No
Scorecard
Course Map
Beware of water on 6 holes and the 64 sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

Overall Rating:
8.8 out of 10
Beauty:
9.3
Difficulty:
8.5
Variety:
8.3
Fun to Play:
9.0
Value:
8.8
Condition:
8.8
Front Nine Rating:
8.7
Back Nine Rating:
8.9
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FEES & AMENITIES

Approximate Weekend
Rates:
$48.00 to $68.00

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.

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Here's How Texas Outside Determines the Scorecard Rating

The Texas Outside rating scale ranges from 1 to 10 – a perfect 10 course would be something like this:  links along a cliff overlooking the Pacific ocean and bordered by tall trees; lush fairways on rolling hills with lots of natural hazards; water (which is crystal clear) on most of the holes; immaculate greens (but they are undulating and tough); lots of variety and character (each hole is completely different and includes blind shots, elevation changes, doglegs, and significant challenges); perfectly manicured traps with the whitest and prettiest sand you’ve ever seen; a nice club house with great food and a 19th hole; a GPS; plenty of beverage carts or your own cooler and ice; and it only costs $40 bucks! What this means is that you probably won’t find any 10s in Texas – try Cabo San Lucas, Pebble Beach, or some of the Hawaii courses! 
Texas Outside rates courses on the following:

  • Beauty – tall trees, rolling hills, beautiful houses, waterfalls, and similar stuff would score high; a 1 would be flat, bushes or cactus instead of trees, and some grass but mostly weeds
  • Difficulty – a straight, 300 yard par 4 with no traps or hazards, no out of bounds or water would probably get a 1; if it is a 460 yard par 4 over two ravines, with water along one side, natural hazards on the other, strategically placed traps or that dreaded tree right in the middle of the fairway, we are talking a 10. 
  • Variety – what would you give a course where all the holes looked and played exactly the same (“I thought we just played that hole!”); were side-by-side, which is good for finding or dodging other people’s balls, but not much fun; and you can see the flag from every tee box?  That’s right, it gets a 1.
  • Fun Scale – a 10 is where you walk off the course and say “now that was fun” and you can’t wait to get back, or you immediately turn around and play another 18 holes
  • Value – a 5 is $50 to $60, a 10 is $20 to $30, and 1 is $200 or so – of course all of this is dependent upon how you liked the course.  For example, if a run down, boring municipal course, with six players on each hole was only $10; it would still get a value rating of 1.
  • Condition – this one’s pretty easy – what condition are the fairways. A 10 commands very lush perfectly manicured fairways, compared to a 1, which has fire ants, weeds, and more dirt than grass!
  • Condition of Greens and Difficulty – very hard to read greens with lots of undulation and tough pin placement, rate very high on the difficulty scale.  Condition is self-explanatory.  

All of the above determines the overall score for the golf course.  In other words, we like courses that are pretty, fun, very challenging with a lot of variety, and fairways and greens in excellent condition – all for $40.  We also tend to play the courses that are affordable for the masses, which means in the $30 to $80 range. We rate hard and we haven’t found a 10 in Texas yet – don’t worry we haven’t given up and we’re still looking. 

 

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