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June 2021

Camp Creek Golf Club Redefining Florida Panhandle’s Private Club Landscape

By Scott Kauffman

The St. Joe Company has been one of Florida’s largest private landowners/real estate companies since it was formed in the mid-1930s, and the Jacksonville-based company was synonymous with the Florida Panhandle in its early years, primarily due to its massive timberland holdings and the company’s namesake paper mill.

Nearly 90 years later, St. Joe is still making a name for itself in this part of northwest Florida as one of the leading developers of master-planned residential resort-style communities and private clubs. In many respects, St. Joe helped put Florida’s scenic Highway 30-A on the leisure real estate private club “placemaking” map with critically acclaimed developments like WaterColor, WaterSound, WaterSound Beach and Wild Heron/Shark’s Tooth Golf Club, thoughtfully situated along a 20-mile stretch of Gulf of Mexico coastline between world-renowned Seaside and Panama City Beach.

Now, The Clubs by JOE, which is St. Joe’s private club and resort operating division, is redefining the region’s private club landscape by investing more than $40 million in the construction of a new 75-room boutique inn and various new amenities on land adjacent to the private Tom Fazio-designed Camp Creek Golf Club that opened 20 years ago.

St. Joe hopes to complete the project later this year, and the driving force behind the ambitious Camp Creek Lifestyle Village designed by award-winning clubhouse designers Kuo Diedrich Chi Architects is the growing number of members increasingly seeking more non-golf lifestyle and recreational pursuits that cater to multi-generations.

In addition to the proposed new Camp Creek Inn where members and guests can enjoy the golf course landscape while relaxing in the Creole-inspired outdoor court and gallery, the village features a new 12,000-square-foot health and wellness center, two restaurants, a tennis center and other pickleball/athletic courts and sports fields.

Then what will surely be a popular place for the multi-generation of members is the world-class resort-style pool complex highlighted by a 270-foot lazy river, zero-entry kids pool with water-spray features and separate adult pool. This latter amenity is why Clubs by JOE director of operations Mike Jansen is confident the company should continue to grow its overall base of 1,563 members, which increased by nearly 300 new members last year, according to the public company’s 2020 annual report.

“We took a look at our current club offerings and evaluated new amenities that our members and their guests would enjoy,” added Jansen, whose company also reported 2020 revenue increased $1.4 million, or 6.7 percent compared, to 2019. “We also evaluated the growing demand that we are seeing for club memberships not only from the local market but also from Atlanta, Nashville, Dallas and other parts of the South and Midwest. Our plans will significantly increase our food and beverage choices, tennis and pool facilities and introduce new amenities like the health and wellness center, all adjacent to the existing Camp Creek Golf Club. This expansion will increase our capacity and enable us to attract new club members.”

Atlanta-based KDC principal Mark Diedrich, who led his firm’s architectural efforts at Camp Creek, says St. Joe’s decision to adopt the “village concept” rather than the traditional clubhouse model of old was the “perfect way to combine that placemaking with your private club components.”
“This design philosophy is something that’s been around in resort development for a long time,” Diedrich adds. “But we’re certainly starting to do more of these in private clubs. The clubhouse has been shrinking... In part because it’s no longer supported by revenue and it’s competing with cooler places to be. So you have to be more creative these days and really think about the overall experience from the moment you enter the gates. What do members and guests get excited about?

“Ultimately, by creating these different experiences, you’re creating lasting memories. It’s also important to build something that is more financially sustainable and improves the sense of community within the club. In the end, I want it to have a sense of community.”

Something St. Joe Company understands full well as it makes yet another memorable “place” to be in the Florida Panhandle.

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