TAMPA, Fla. -- Some of the most pleasant golf course experiences in the Tampa area come thanks to mature, mossy oaks shading the fairways. Tampa's Pebble Creek Golf Club offers not only a preserve-like setting for golf but also a low-key, friendly environment that makes any golfer feel like they're at their home club.
Pebble Creek was founded in 1967, located just north of the heart of Tampa and about a 15-minute drive north from Busch Gardens. The course was designed by Bill Amick and is the centerpiece of an established residential community.
Despite its location in the thick of this Tampa neighborhood, the course upholds a scenic, quiet ambiance, due largely in part to the property's many grandfather mossy oak trees that sit beside greens and fairways. In addition, 16 holes are guarded with ponds and streams, some of which don't come into play as much as serve as beautification.
One of the more notable holes on the back side is the water-heavy 14th. This is a narrow, sharp dogleg left with water on both sides of the fairway. On top of that, the approach shot must find an angle around tall cypress trees that guard it to a raised green. Suddenly, this par 4, barely longer than 300 yards, has every golfer's full attention.
In spite of the more target-style 14th, big-swingers will find plenty of opportunities to let it rip at Pebble Creek. The course, at 6,436 yards from the championship tees, features three long par 5s and a handful of long par 4s. Each nine finishes with a bang: the ninth hole, a gentle dogleg left lined with oaks is the longest par 4 on the course at 434 yards. The 18th, while just less than 400 yards, is undoubtedly the toughest approach shot on the course, requiring a carry over Pebble Creek to an elevated green.
Traditional golf with modern enhancements at Pebble Creek Golf Club
While the course is unmistakably a traditional Floridian-style golf design, Pebble Creek has undergone about $2 million in recent upgrades. The biggest development for golfers is the addition of new Champions Bermuda greens.
Implemented four years ago, the new surface rolls faster than the prior surface. Additionally, full-color GPS systems were installed in golf carts to assist golfers. Off the golf course, the club's banquet and dining facilities were expanded.
Improvements aren't done, however. The course is continually trimming trees back in some spots where they can to open up playing corridors -- especially near some tee boxes -- and also build a new practice green. Outside the clubhouse, a new lanai and expansion of the banquet room is under way. And with the recent laws banning smoking indoors, the club is working on installing an outdoor cigar bar.
Pebble Creek Golf Club: The verdict
Pebble Creek's layout presents a challenge, though one that isn't brutally tough for any skill level, along with a consistently pleasant natural environment that makes for an enjoyable round amongst nature. The course can be especially favorable to senior or women's groups, as there aren't too many forced carries.
Stick around for a pint or two in Mulligan's after the round where the wait staff is cheerful and should be able to twist your arm into sticking around for one or two more rounds of drinks than you had planned.
Those who live near Pebble Creek and enjoy the course and friendly vibe should inquire about memberships to the club that start as low as $185/month.