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|Florida is not only a golfer's paradise, it's also nirvana for anglers. (Courtesy of ioutdoor.com)|
After a round of golf, if you're tired of catching your fish on a restaurant menu, head to the open seas and haul in a big catch yourself.
Florida is not only a golfer's paradise, it's also nirvana for anglers. Incorporating a deep-sea fishing excursion with a golf experience is easy in the marina-rich state that has nearly 1,200 miles of coastline. Better still, most of the top marinas are situated a few minutes drive from golf courses.
Prices vary with charter boats, but you typically can expect to pay between $150 to $180 per hour for a private charter, for up to six people. If you're a single, you can sign up at a dockside grouping office and split the cost of the boat equally with others.
For those on a tight budget, party boat fishing on larger vessels accommodating dozens of anglers costs from $30 to $50 per person with bait, fishing license and tackle included. Check with the marina beforehand to see if party boats sail from their location.
Here are destinations where the fish and golf options are plentiful:
Dubbed "Florida's Luckiest Fishing Village," Destin, on the Gulf of Mexico in the panhandle, affords easy access to deep water. In fact, the offshore shelf descends to 100 feet within 10 miles, and big game fish such as white and blue marlin and sailfish are possible. Red snapper, grouper and king mackerel are also popular catches.
When it's time to chase birdies, some popular options include Indian Bayou Golf Club, a 27-hole layout with wide landing areas, tall pines and beautiful lakes; Kelly Plantation Golf Club, a Fred Couples design dominated by magnolias and palmettos; and Regatta Bay Golf & Country Club, an award-winning picturesque and challenging course along the Choctawhatchee Bay.
Thirty-eight miles east of Destin, Panama City Beach has several marinas (Bay Point, Captain Anderson's, Pirates Cove and Panama City Downtown) located minutes from golf courses and hotels.
If you're a billfish angler, July is the month to fish Panama City. May and June are the top months for king mackerel, and in January and February, red snapper and grouper congregate around the inshore reefs in shallow waters.
Ideally situated is the Wyndham Bay Point Resort on St. Andrews Bay, which is home to the Bay Point Marina, a full-service facility with 180 slips and two championship, 18-hole courses, including the Nicklaus Design Course, a dramatic layout with saltwater marshes, high-profile features and panoramic views of the bay.
Other courses to consider include the Holiday Golf Club, a complex with an 18-hole championship course, nine-hole par-3 course, range and practice facilities; Hombre Golf Club, a 27-hole facility that has hosted the PGA Tour Qualifying School; and Camp Creek Golf Club, a Tom Fazio design with no homes that evokes a private-club ambiance.
Home to the sprawling, 40-acre, 250-slip Bahia Mar Marina and other marinas such as Pier 66, Hall of Fame, Las Olas and New River/Downtown, you'll have little trouble finding a sport-fishing charter in Fort Lauderdale.
You can catch sailfish, kingfish and tuna yearround, marlin in the winter and spring, and wahoo from November to February in the Atlantic Ocean waters.
Back on terra firma, TPC Eagle Trace, an Arthur Hills design, is the quintessential shotmaker's course with undulating greens, spectator mounds and innovative, strategically placed bunkering.
The Bonaventure Country Club has two 18-hole championship courses, the East Course, a Joe Lee design that weaves through strands of hardwoods and huge palms, and the West Course, a Mark Mahannah design with expansive fairways that's ideal for big hitters who like to pound it off the tee.
A venerable favorite in the Fort Lauderdale area is Palm Aire Country Club and Resort, which has four courses with designer tags like Tom and George Fazio, Robert von Hagge, Bruce Devlin, Lorrie Viola and William Mitchell.
There are more than a dozen marinas in the golf rich area of Naples and Marco Island in the southwest part of the state.
Several sunken shipwrecks in the nearby Gulf of Mexico attract fish and are popular spots to catch grouper, snapper, cobia, permit, barracuda and jewfish.
When it's time to roam the fairways, some excellent options include: TPC at Treviso Bay, a superbly maintained and challenging design by Arthur Hills and player consultant Hal Sutton that's part of the PGA Tour'S TPC Network of clubs; Valencia Golf and Country Club, a recently renovated course with Mini Verde greens and fairways rimmed by palms, pines and cypress trees; and Rookery at Marco, a naturally beautiful layout set in shallow wetlands with inviting, open fairways and oversized greens.
Other areas where fishing and golf mix well together include Amelia Island, St. Augustine, Cape Canaveral, Clearwater, Fort Myers, Palm Beach, Tampa/St. Petersburg, Jupiter, Pensacola, Stuart and the Keys (Islamorada, Key Largo and Key West).
July 30, 2012
Ed Schmidt, publisher of The Golf Travel Guru Blog, is the author of two books on Florida golf and more than 2,500 articles and columns on golf resorts, courses and destinations around the world.
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