An introduction to Panama City
Here we look at golf courses in Panama City, Florida. The resort city, Panama City Beach, is up in the northwest of Florida stretching along the Gulf Coast.
This really is a picture-perfect city, with miles upon miles of beautiful white sand beaches overlooking the crystal-clear waters. There are over 320 days of sunshine here which makes it a super-popular tourist destination, both for families and couples.
Naturally the main attraction are the beaches, with from the spring to the fall perfect weather to enjoy them. There are around 27 miles of beaches to choose from. That said, for newbies, a good place to start is at the City Pier.
See also: What are the best golf courses in Florida?
With so much shoreline, some of the hottest attractions include actually getting out on the water. Aside from just hiring a boat and going sailing, the dolphin tours are always high in demand.
Looking instead to stay on firm ground? Go for a wander around Pier Park (City Pier), just across from Russell-Fields Pier. This entertainment complex has plenty of dining options as well as shops and other amusements to keep you busy.
From a golf perspective, there isn’t the choice you would find elsewhere along the Sunshine State’s coastlines, but what it lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quality
The best golf courses near Panama City Florida
Camp Creek Course at Watersounds Club
Watersounds Club is a private beach club resort 18 miles northwest along the coastline from Panama City Beach. Here you’ll find a club which oozes class and offers a myriad of member amenities to be enjoyed.
Some of those amenities include private swimming pools, sunset bars, tennis courts, private beaches and a smart restaurant. But alongside these are two wonderful 18-hole championship golf courses.
The first of these is Camp Creek Course located within a site as verdant as they come. Native plants, wildlife corridors, huge live oaks and attentive planting schemes have created a wonder for the eyes where you truly feel at one with nature.
This top class layout was designed by Tom Fazio and since opening in 2001 has been littered with praise and recognition. This recognition has come in the shape of countless accolades from all the major golf publications, with ‘Best in State’ and ‘Best Courses you can Play’ regular tags.
But the recognition has also been garnered through the course being chosen to host US Open Qualifiers which it has done on several occasions.
From the back tees the course stretches to nearly 7,200 yards and to add to the challenge, there are very few flat lies, unusual for a Florida golf course.
From every tee box, you can see the green and from that perspective, they probably look lovely. But get closer and you’ll notice many have been tiered and in typical Fazio style, even once on the dancefloor, expect to second guess every putt.
This really is quality golf and open to the public.
Shark’s Tooth Course at Watersounds Club
The second of the two 18-hole golf courses at Watersounds Club, is the Shark’s Tooth Course. This superb layout was designed by the legendary Greg Norman.
The course is located about a mile closer to Panama City Beach overlooking the scenic Powell Lake which happens to be one of the largest dune lakes in Florida.
Just like the Camp Creek Course, the site here is a blanket of green, full of mature oaks and pines. Nature is at the heart of this coastal sanctuary and is evident from every hole. What is wonderful is the fact there are only a couple of fairways which run parallel to one another. Aside from those, every fairway loses itself in the dense woodland. Pure bliss.
The course is challenging. From the back tees it measures just over 7,200 yards and to score well, accuracy off the tee is essential to give yourself a decent approach into the green.
Unlike Fazio’s Camp Creek though, Norman moved very little earth in the creation of the Shark’s Tooth. Instead he worked seamlessly with natural corridors and the endemic shape of the land. The end result is simply marvelous and alongside Camp Creek, these two courses are head and shoulders above many of the other courses in this region.
Holiday Golf Club
Just two and a half miles east of Pier Park, is the Holiday Golf Club in the Bay West Estates neighborhood.
This is a fun golf course which from the Green tees, those furthest back, stretches to well of 6,800 yards. Fortunately the course is relatively flat, so it can be easily walked although there are carts available if you prefer.
The lush fairways are wide allowing you to let rip from the tee box. The greens are fast and the club prides itself on the quality it upkeeps all year round.
Water hazards come into play on a number of holes with a network of waterways meandering around the site. You’ll also encounter a couple of lakes waiting patiently to lap up loose shots.
Good value for money and just a short drive from central Panama City Beach.
Bay Point Golf Club – Nicklaus Course & Meadow Course
Bay Point is the second golf club close to Panama City Beach, which has two marvelous 18-hole championship courses.
The first of these is the superb Nicklaus Course, the first golf course in Northwest Florida to feature a Jack Nicklaus layout. However, if we go right back to the beginning, the initial layout was actually designed by Bruce Devlin in 1986 and was called Lagoon Legends.
However, in 2005, the ‘Golden Bear’ was commissioned to completely transform the existing layout and create a world-class layout. And that he did.
First things first, the setting is magnificent. There are panoramic views of St Andrew’s Bay and a marshland wildlife sanctuary, both of which provide a stunning backdrop.
As to be expected, the course is challenging with some sublime holes Nicklaus would no doubt have been proud of. There are five sets of tees which stretch the course from 4,100 to 7,100 yards.
The second layout at Bay Point Golf Club is the Meadow Course. This is a course which suffers the ‘second course curse’. Essentially where a good layout is completely overlooked and forgotten due to the fame of its sibling.
Well this fate befalls the Meadow course whose sibling happens to be a superb Jack Nicklaus layout. But there are many reasons to want to play the Meadow course.
This is a championship course with stunning scenery, much of which is the same as the Nicklaus course. The fairways are lined by a myriad of mature trees, which certainly from the tee give the impression of squeezing the fairways.
To enhance the challenge in front of you, there are numerous bunkers and a number of water hazards dotted throughout. Therefore a prerequisite to score well here is accuracy and careful strategy whilst plotting your way around.
Granted, it is not designed by Jack Nicklaus. But it is a great challenge and well worth the visit.
Panama Country Club
Approximately 20 minutes inland from Panama City, up past Pretty Bayou towards the Lynn Haven neighborhood, is Panama Country Club. The club is situated on a peninsula with water to be found on three sides of the site.
This wonderful course goes way back, first opening for play in 1927. The first layout was designed by W.C.Sherman and the legendary golf course architect Donald Ross. Ross’ reputation stretches worldwide so to get an illustrious figure like him working on the routing was quite a feat.
As would have been the trend of the time, the fairways are relatively narrow, putting a real emphasis on precision play. The fairways feature subtle contours and the greens require pin-point accuracy, again being smaller than the style more common today.
Regardless of your ability, the course is playable. There are multiple sets of tees on each hole with from the back tees the yardage being 6,700 whilst from the front tees it comes in at 5,400 yards.
With so much greenery onsite, it won’t surprise you to know the course is a sanctuary for all different types of wildlife. Expect to see eagles, herons, squirrels, egrets, turtles and plenty more occupying themselves whilst you’re battling against par.
Signal Hill Golf Course
I wouldn’t necessarily include this in the list of ‘best golf courses in Panama City Beach’. Yet it is the only other golf course in the vicinity outside of those mentioned above.
Signal Hill was designed by John Sherman and opened for play back in 1962. The course is a par 71 but is only just over 5,600 yards, so certinaly not championship golf. As such it is a great place to come for a knock around if here on holiday.
The club is literally across the street from some of Panama City’s best beaches and is one of the oldest golf courses in the area. Friendly staff and unpretentiousness makes this great holiday golf.
What is the best golf course in Panama City, Florida?
The best golf course in Panama City, Florida, is Camp Creek Course at Watersounds Club. It is located 18 miles up the coast from downtown and was designed by the legendary golf course architect Tom Fazio.
How many golf courses are there in Panama City Florida?
Within a 20 miles radius of Panama City in Florida, there are 7 golf courses. An 8th course (Origins Golf Club) which is a 6-hole layout.