Even golfers staying up to a week at the Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club, located in Palm Harbor north of Tampa, should never grow tired of the variety of golfing options, not with 72 holes of golf on four courses, offering scenery more reminiscent of the Carolinas than Florida.
The biggest drawing card for golfers is getting a chance to play the Copperhead Course like the PGA Tour players do each March. It’s long even for the pros at 7,340 yards, but it’s also a thinking man’s course with rolling terrain and tall pines framing the fairways.Most golfers shouldn’t even attempt to go back to the tips, sporting a 76.8 course rating and a slope of 144. The green tees at 6,725 yards with 73.7 and 136 numbers are enough for the lower handicappers, but most will enjoy it more from the whites at 6,180 and 130. It’s still a little too long for women at 5,605 from the reds with 73.6 and 130 numbers.
The Island Course, the first to be built back in 1970, may be more difficult with tighter fairways bordered by moss-draped trees and plenty of water hazards. It can be stretched to 7,310 with a rating of 76.4 and slope of 143. Approach shots need to be kept under the holes for the most part on the undulating putting surfaces. I found it difficult to get home on many of the par 4s playing it at 6,816 with 73.9 and 141 numbers. My advice is to move up to the whites at 6,280 with 70.9 and 135 numbers if you don’t drive the ball more than 250 yards. It’s too long for most women at 5,515 with 77.1 and 144 numbers, but the LPGA will have its Legends Tour there in the fall.
Women golfers will like both of the other courses that play less than 5,000 yards from the reds.
The North will remind you of the Copperhead as it has some of the same characteristics, including one stretch of six straight holes with water, but it is not as long, measuring 6,325, 6,070 and 5,580 from the three men’s tees and playing to a par of 70.
The South starts out and ends like the others, but there is a stretch in the middle (5-13) where it might remind some of a links course. It plays to par 71, measuring 6,620, 6,340, and 5,900 for the men.
As an extra attraction during the summer when more families come to visit, the resort sets up the Fox Squirrel walking course after 4 p.m. It measures only 1,236 yards on holes 1-4 and 14-18 of the South or the back nine on the North when the South is closed.
All four courses are the work architect Larry Packard, who turned 100 Nov. 15, 2012.
The 600 guest accommodations range include deluxe one-and two- bedroom and executive suites in 28 lodges, named after other famous golf courses, spread out to provide tranquil settings. If you do not arrive in a car, don’t worry. Innisbrook has a very efficient shuttle service.
The Innisbrook Resort is part of the Salamander Collection’s Grand Resorts of Florida along with the Hammock Beach Resort in Palm Coast and the Reunion Resort in Orlando.