Bay Point's Nicklaus Course reopens for play

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) Golfers are once again playing their way around the 18 holes of The Nicklaus Golf Course at Bay Point Resort in Panama City Beach.

Hurricane Michael severely damaged both courses at Bay Point. The future of Club Meadows remains in doubt.

On the Nicklaus side though, after months of intensive work to keep the new greens alive, clean up tons of debris, and work to get the fairways and bunkers back in playing shape, the course was reopened Friday.

More than 187 golfers, including many members, lined up to play, much to delight of Bay Point Golf G.M. Ryan Mulvey who had overseen the restoration project.

"Being closed, not that we're counting, for 155 days and finally being back out here normal, finally seeing people playing golf again, the adrenaline this week has been pretty intense," Mulvey said. "Hard to sleep. But I was talking to the guys earlier, it's definitely a surreal experience, and just getting back to some normalcy with a great golf course, it's been quite an interesting day so far. It's been absolutely awesome. All our staff has been psyched up and we're just so excited to welcome people back out to our golf course."

Among those out to play on this first day of the course's rebirth of sorts, Bay County Commissioner Griff Griffitts.

"This is a big day for Bay Point to reopen," Griffitts said. "A little bit of normalcy for Bay County. It also helps the beach kind of jump-start the economic engine and the golf industry. We know with the closing of Hombre (Golf Club) this is just that much more important to get the recreational community back out here golfing today."

Also among those playing Friday, a trio of Bay Point residents and golf club members, Marilyn Mathews, Connie Gittard and Terry Marti.

"It's nice to just be able to see the course, and hit the ball" Marti said after her group played nine holes. "The greens are phenomenal. It's nice there are no divots in the fairways. The sand is great, ask Marilyn, Marilyn hit a lot of shots out of the sand today! She did a great job. So it was a lot of fun. We started with a bottle of Prosecco when we started on the first tee today. And we finished it by the time we got to number nine!"

For Mulvey, it wasn't just about getting the course playable again, it was about getting the course in the best possible condition given the damage, the time constraints, and other factors. He feels his grounds team did exactly that, starting with the Tifeagle greens that were installed in the months before the storm and only had two days of play before the hurricane.

"We got in, we started the process, got the greens back going and really have taken care of them the last four months and really have gotten them into fantastic shape and now we have a hundred percent confidence with people going out there that they are going to enjoy a really great golf product."

Saturday the course will host a fundraiser for the Bay Golf Team, which was scheduled before the storm.