Steve Bobe, the golf professional at A.C. Read Golf Course at Pensacola Naval Air Station, recalls a recent conversation with a retired military Snowbird.
“He said he had been retired from the Navy for 26 years,” Bobe said. “He never played golf at the course when he was a flight student. He went out and played and came back and said, ‘Holy mackerel, I missed it 26 years ago.’ He was all excited about it.”
A.C. Read is one of several military golf courses on the Gulf Coast that are available to Snowbirds, both retired military and civilians retirees alike. All offer great tests of golf in the usually quiet atmosphere, only broken by the sound of military aircraft taking off and landing.
The A.C. Read facility has 54 holes, including the Lakeview and Bayview courses. Rates vary according to rank, as well as civilian rates.
If Snowbirds join the Navy League at the course, they get a $4 discount off normal civilian rates for greens fees.
Bobe said they get a lot of Snowbirds playing in the winter.
“There’s a contingency of groups out there,” he said. “The course is in really good shape. It’s on a pretty piece of property in Northwest Florida with the live oaks, the bay and the Gulf.”
Farther east is the Falcon Course on Eglin Air Force Base in Niceville, Fla.
The course is built on a stretch of rolling hills, pretty rare for this part of the state. The greens are heavily undulated, so good putting skills are necessary.
And the Falcon Course is the third-ranked golf course in the Air Force.
Nearby at Hurlburt Field is Gator Lakes, so-called for its numerous lakes, as well as numerous alligators and other critters.
Pelican Point Golf Course on Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City offers an incredible view as its stretches along the Gulf of Mexico.
It also stands out in another way. It’s the only military golf course to use bright red golf carts.
A.C. Read Golf Course
Location: Pensacola Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Fla.
Fees: Varies by rank; civilian rates available.
Services: Driving range, putting and chipping greens, cart and club rental, food service, locker room, restaurant, lounge.
Information: (850) 452-2454
Whiting Golf Course
Location: Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Santa Rosa County, Fla.
Fees: Military $8 for 9 holes; $11 for 18; DOD $9/$14; guests $12/$18; public $14/$22. Carts: $10 for 18 holes, $6 for 9
Services: Driving range, putting and chipping greens, cart and club rental, food service, lockerroom, restaurant, lounge.
Eglin AFB Golf Course
Location: 1527 Fairway Drive, Niceville, Fla.
Fees: Varies by rank.
Services: Driving, putting and pitching greens, lockerrooms for men and women, lounge, snack bar, cart rental.
Gator Lakes Golf Course
Hurlburt Golf Course
Location: 91300 Golf Course Road, Hurlburt Field, Fla.
Fees: Varies by rank. Regular fees are $18 greens fees, $11 for cart.
Services: Driving range, putting green, café.
Pelican Point Golf Course
Location: Sabre Drive on Tyndall AFB, Panama City, Fla.
Fees: Varies by rank.
Services: Driving range, putting and chipping greens, carts and club rental, snack bar/lounge, lockerroom.