Innisbrook, A Salamander Golf & Spa Resort is nestled on 900 acres of rolling hills and 70 acres of lakes on the west coast of Central Florida. Innisbrook Golf Resort is home to four outstanding courses – all designed by the innovative and imaginative architect Lawrence Packard – including the top-rated Copperhead course, which welcomes the world’s finest players each March when the PGA TOUR visits Innisbrook for the Valspar Championship.
Only 20 miles from Tampa International Airport, the Resort appeals to visitors seeking the ultimate golf resort experience in a locale that is easily accessible and is within minutes of the beaches on the Gulf of Mexico.
Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Golf Resort :
A favorite among PGA TOUR professionals, the Copperhead Course is the most recognizable of Innisbrook’s four Tampa, Florida courses. After all, it plays host to the world’s greatest golfers during the PGA TOUR’s annual visit to the resort for the Valspar Championship. Pine tree-lined fairways and rolling terrain define the course – a lengthy challenge for even the longest hitters at more than 7,200 yards. Ranked #7 on the PGA Tour in difficulty, Golf Digest has ranked the Copperhead Florida’s #1 course and one of “America’s Greatest”
Home of the notorious “Snake Pit,” the finishing holes at Copperhead have long been considered three of the toughest final holes on the PGA Tour with the 16th hole secreting the most venom. The course is characterized by rolling terrain, tree lined fairways, and several water hazards. At over 7300 from the tips, Innisbrook Golf Resort will challenge the longest of hitters as they navigate the doglegs, elevation changes, and sloping greens. PGA Tour players often rank Innisbrook among their favorite courses on tour due to the charming character, lack of homes, demanding yet fair shot making, and admirable course conditions. Some tour courses are more flash than substance but Copperhead couldn’t be further from falling into that category. The bunkers are borderline blah looking yet poignantly effective, the greens are subtle yet dangerous, and the approach shots are equally (or more) demanding that the tee ball. In short, Innisbrook Copperhead represents one of the purist and finest tests of golf from tee to green you’ll find in the South.
Copperhead opens with a double-dogleg, par 5 hole. The placement of the second shot is necessary to set up a birdie opportunity. The green is protected by bunkers short and left. It is a great opening hole that feels more like Carolina golf than Florida golf and quickly sets the tone for the rest of the round.
The most difficult hole on Copperhead’s front nine is also its best. A long dogleg right, the 3rd hole requires a big drive to setup the proper angle into the green while not hitting it so far that you reach the water on the left. The fairway winds between two water hazards before leading into a green surrounded by a trio of bunkers. The entrance to the green is clear which opens up the possibility of bouncing an approach shot onto the green from a significant distance away. Players hugging the right side off the tee will be forced to carry the hazard most of the way to the green though there is still ample fairway to land in short. While the final three holes are known as the “Snake Pit” due to their severe challenge, the first three holes are certainly capable of causing just as much damage to your scorecard.
Difficult holes & Snake Pit at Innisbrook Golf:
16th Hole – 475 Yard Par 4 – The Moccasin – The beginning of the “Snake Pit” delivers the most potent bite of the three finishing holes at Copperhead and should instantly grab your attention. A long dogleg right with a pond protecting the turn, players have to be willing to hit long enough off the tee to bring the water into play unless they want to be faced with a 200+ yard approach over the hazard. Trees line both sides of the fairway and encroach in from the left near the green in an effort to provide extra protection to the putting surface above and beyond the greenside bunkers. This hole full on imploded John Daly’s opening round in 2014 when he carded a one-putt 12 en route to a 90. While there likely won’t be a lot of pars in your foursome, I do like the chances of your group avoiding any double digits scores as you show Long John how it is done.
17th Hole – Par 3 – The Rattler – This hole’s saving grace might be that it’s the largest green on the course – but you have to get there first. The opening is pear-shaped and well protected, so depending on the pin location, this long-ish par three can go from tough to ugly from round to round.
18th hole – Par 4 – The Copperhead – The 18th is a beautiful, uphill-finishing hole. The namesake 18th is called “Copperhead,” and it bares its fangs throughout. At only 445 yards, it doesn’t strike fear on the scorecard yardage alone. Instead, it menaces with an uphill climb narrowed by trees and bunkers to a semi-blind, severely sloping (back-to-front) green fronted by sand. Again, due to the slender landing area, and to the premium in finding it, many players hit less than driver off the tee, leaving them a l-o-n-g approach. Nearly a quarter of the field played this hole in bogey or worse in 2017, leading to a stroke average of 4.151.
North Course : Par 70 – 6325 Yards
While the 6300 yard North Course can’t be stretched to the length of Copperhead, it doesn’t need to be. Bottom line, the North Course is a shorter golf course that is not to be taken lightly – it looks easy on paper, but is a plotter’s paradise – requiring patience, accuracy, and shot-making abilities to score well. In today’s game where everyone is getting longer off the tee, the most difficulty comes when trying to fit the ball into tight landing spots while avoiding trouble. More than any other course at Innisbrook, the North Course will challenge your shot making skills.
To top things off, the North Course is in better shape than ever. In 2017, the course underwent a five-month renovation. During that renovation, all new green complexes were installed; Innisbrook Golf Resort made the switch from the original common Bermuda and installed brand-new TifEagle Bermuda grass. With the installation of TifEagle Bermuda, the need to overseed for winter play has been eliminated and the greens are more durable and consistent.
Brand new greens and a challenging course layout have proven to bring the biggest hitters to their knees. In fact, because so many holes have tight fairways, you’ll be forced to leave the driver in your bag on a handful of par-4 and par-5 holes. If you tempt fate and go driver, you better not miss the fairway unless you have a chainsaw in your bag. We mentioned the new greens, many of which pitch steeply from back to front. That new TifEagle grass on the greens has allowed the superintendent to maintain greens at faster speeds than ever before, putts from above the hole will have your knees knocking. All this might give you a little insight into the North Course’s nickname, “Little Copperhead.”
South Course at Innisbrook : Par 71 – 6620 Yards
Many would say Innisbrook’s South course (formerly Highlands South ) is the easiest going of the resort’s “Perfect Four” layouts. The South’s opening and closing sections were inherited from the former Sandpiper course. These holes display many of the tight tree-lined and water-defended characteristics found on the front-nine of Innisbrook’s North course
The South’s middle section, from the par-3 5th to the long doglegging par-5 13th, comprises nine holes , renovated in 1998. Here you will enjoy considerably more room from the tee, even though one or two of the holes are flanked by large residential properties. This more open and linksy environment is accompanied by rolling mounded terrain, where pot bunkers join forces with more expansive sand traps to create the principal line of defence.
Both the old and new sections of the course contain pleasant and gentle elevation changes. At the snaking par-5 2nd you’ll play up and over a small ridge, while the terrific uphill par-4 11th most exuberantly showcases the layout’s excellent bunkering. On this out-and-back layout, the “turn” comes at the good-length par-3 9th. Here the green and its attendant bunkering jut precariously out into a pond, water lurking on three sides of the target area.
Although overshadowed by the more renowned Copperhead and Island courses, the South is another admired member of Innisbrook’s quartet of championship layouts. From its short opening par-4 through to the testing carry over water at the par-3 18th, it lays down a wonderfully absorbing and natural challenge. And arguably a bit more variety than its siblings.
Island course : Par 72 – 7194 Yards
With tight fairways, intimidating water hazards, abundant bunkers, and extraordinary elevation changes, the newly renovated and lengthened Island Course is considered by many to be as equally demanding as Copperhead. The extraordinarily picturesque Island has played host to numerous U.S. Open qualifiers and NCAA Championships and has also been ranked among the country’s top 50 resort courses by Golf Digest. The LPGA selected the course as the site of the ISPS Handa Legends Tour Open Championship, proving that ladies appreciate Innisbrook’s golfing experience as much as men.
The Island’s first six holes are bordered by beautiful Lake Innisbrook and lateral water hazards that require pinpointing accuracy on tee shots and approaches. The middle six holes feature rolling hills dominated by cypress and pine trees. The final third of this course boasts a mixture of holes designed to reward the bold and penalize the errant golf shot. Your round ends at a finishing hole that’s withstood the test of the world’s most skilled players and is one of the most photographed in Florida.