If you have any interest in the PGA Tour, last week was a pretty exciting one. Not only did the WGC – Cadillac Championship go down to the wire between Bubba Watson, J.B. Holmes and eventual winner Dustin Johnson, but the Puerto Rico needed a five-man playoff to identify winner Alex Cejka.
This week, the Tour returns to its one-stop ways at yet another famous resort. Should you stay and play where the Tour plays?
Where? Innisbrook Resort (Copperhead Course)
The PGA Tour continues to zigzag across the Sunshine State, this time to Florida’s west coast and the the Tampa suburb of Tarpon Springs (also known for having the best Greek food in Florida), which is home to Innisbrook and its feared Copperhead Course, designed by Lawrence Packard and opened in 1974.
If you’re looking specifically for quirk and uniqueness, you’re likely to be disappointed by Copperhead. But if you’re looking for the prototypical “PGA Tour course,” you’ve come to the right place. It is tree-lined, straightforward and demanding, which makes it one of the more popular annual stops on the circuit. It has hosted an event every year since 2000.
Copperhead is somewhat atypical of Florida resort golf, for the better. It does not hammer away at players with water hazards (there are some, but it is far from ubiquitous) and it features some noticeable elevation change, which provides a welcome break from the flatness of other area layouts. The most memorable stretch is the closing trio, dubbed the “Snake Pit,” where a number of players have squandered chances to win the Valspar Championship. It is highlighted by the 445-yard 18th, where nine bunkers and a wicked green complicate both the tee shot and approach.
As with most accessible Tour venues, a round at the Copperhead won’t come cheap. Rack rates reach $250 during the high season, but if you stay at the resort on a golf package, things become more reasonable.
We think so. The Copperhead is fair, challenging and always well-conditioned and provides as reliable a “Tour” experience as any other such public or resort venue. The greens may not be quite as fast and the rough may not be quite as deep as it is for the pros when you visit, but the bones of the course are what makes it a well-rounded challenge for those who want to test their games.
Copperhead is one of four courses at Innisbrook Resort. Of those other three, the Island Course is the consensus favorite—according to some Innisbrook members and frequent guests we’ve talked to, it’s the equal of the Copperhead layout. The others, the North and South, are a step down in quality but are pleasant enough.
Off-site, TPC Tampa Bay is a worthy alternative and another professional golf venue, having held the Champions Tour’s Encompass Insurance Pro-Am in recent years. Another well-reviewed area course is the semi-private Fox Hollow Golf Club in nearby Trinity, a Robert Trent Jones, Sr. design.
What are your thoughts on golf in the greater Tampa area? Have you played the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort? Let us know in the comments!