It doesn't get much better than playing what Golf Digest ranked as the "5th Best Course in Florida." Shark's Tooth Golf Club is a Greg Norman design which opened in 2002 and is a part of the Wild Heron Community located on Lake Powell just west of Panama City Beach. As you drive through this community and approach the fantastic clubhouse you get a sense that you are in for a very special round of golf - and you won't be disappointed. Shark's Tooth is a private club with around 260 members but is available for play if you stay at the outstanding WaterColor Inn & Resort which is halfway between Destin and Panama City Beach.
Greg Norman designed Shark's Tooth to maximize the beauty of the natural terrain and as such the course meanders through the trees, across natural waste areas and wetlands, and along the banks of Lake Powell, which at 1737 acres is the largest coastal dune lake in the state of Florida. Shark's Tooth is to be congratulated for its prestigious recognition by the Audubon Society for environmental excellence as a "Certified Signature Sanctuary." With majestic live oaks and loblolly pines coupled with acres of preserved wetlands, Shark's Tooth is both fun and challenging for all levels of player. At 7204 yards from the tips with a slope of 136 and a rating of 74.9, the course will challenge the best of players - for the rest of us, move up a couple tee boxes and you'll have a very enjoyable round of golf on a beautiful course with an excellent layout.
Shark's Tooth is very well groomed and landscaped and was in perfect condition when we played. The fairways are lush, green, and have very few divots. They range from wide open and forgiving to a little tight and narrow - spray it and your ball will disappear in the wetlands, the woods, or the lake.
What makes Shark's Tooth challenging are the large wetland areas that you need to carry on several holes, the huge and numerous fairway and green-side bunkers, and a lot of natural sand bunkers - at times we felt like we were on the beach! Like the beaches of Panama City Beach, the sand is soft and thick. If you get by the fairway challenges, then you'll find some of the approaches to the green are narrow and challenging and most of the greens are very well protected with several bunkers, making club selection for your approach shot critical. Here's a tip that didn't dawn on us until the 16th hole - the back and most of the rear sides of the green have 20 to 50 yards of playable fringe area, so play for a longer approach shot to avoid the numerous traps that protect the front of the greens - this should save you a few strokes!
Speaking of the greens, they were also in near perfect condition and when we played in late December, we found them to be medium speed, very true, and easy to read - which made up for some of the other course challenges. Most of the greens were flat or gently sloping and sizes varied from large to very skinny and oblong.
The front nine winds through the trees and wetlands and is very scenic and quiet. Each of the holes takes advantage of the natural terrain. For example, hole #6 is the number one handicap at 529 yards from the tips. It's a pretty easy carry over the waste area from the tee box, but if you hit a boomer you're in a wetlands, a slice puts you in the trees, and a hook lands you in the lake or a huge natural sand area. Survive that and your second shot needs to carry the wetlands to a narrow oblong fairway leading to a very small green surrounded by bunkers, trees, and the lake. This is the kind of hole you want to play over again, and again, and again. The picture in top middle and bottom right is of this fantastic and fun hole - and that's only one of 18 great holes.
If you're in Florida or planning a trip to the Panama Beach area, you should read our Vacation To Panama City Beach article to find some other courses to play, where to stay, and other fun things to see and do. Shark's Tooth offers limited reciprocal rights for other club members. But if you're visiting the area, stay at WaterColor Inn & Resort to make sure you can play this outstanding course.
Rates: $150.00 to $150.00
Service is excellent, the clubhouse is great, and the pro shop is well stocked.
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!
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.