The Golf Bucket List
Now to the "Snake Pit," deemed to be the among the hardest three-hole finishing stretch on the PGA Tour. A Copperhead statue greets you as you enter this daunting part of the golf course. The infamous finish includes the 430 yard dogleg right 16th, the 18 yard par 3 17th, and the 420 yard dogleg left 18th.
Overall, I thought Copperhead was a fun and fair course, with plenty of challenge. The course is tight, but if you can keep your ball straight through the trees that border nearly every hole, you can score well.
#14 is an interesting double dogleg par 5. This one doesn't seem terribly difficult aside from the yardage (550 yards), but is still the hardest hole on the back nine by handicap. The hole goes left first, and then back to the right at the end, and over a small pond that shouldn't come into play.
In December, 2011, I took a trip to the Tampa area to play a few courses, and had the chance to check off a couple more "Top 100 You Can Play" tracks. Among them was Innisbrook - Copperhead and World Woods - Pine Barrens. I'll touch on Copperhead:
Copperhead is the host of the PGA Tour's annual Valspar Championship, and after playing it twice, I was not disappointed. The Copperhead is one of four golf courses at the Innisbrook Resort, a gated golf resort about 30-40 minutes northwest of Tampa, in Palm Harbor, FL. There are three different clubhouses throughout the resort, with the Copperhead and Island courses having their own while the North and South courses share one. Everything is a bit expensive at Innisbrook, including the Pro Shop, Food, and the golf too, but it's a nice experience for the money. I always enjoy walking in the footsteps of the Tour pros, and Copperhead was no different.
I played this course twice in December, but with the over-seeding of the rough, it was plenty green, and in very nice shape. The flowers obviously weren't all in bloom in December, but it was obvious that the greens keepers do a lot of work to make this course beautiful throughout the year. The course is relatively hilly, especially for Florida, most notably with #1 and #10 running downhilll and #5 going uphill.
Copperhead extends to 7,340 yards from the Black tees. But, I wasn't playing for a PGA Tour purse, so I wasn't playing from there. The Green tees were more than enough challenge from 6,725 yards with a rating/slope of 73.7/136. The course is even longer and tougher when you consider all that length is on a routing whose par is 71.
The course starts out with 5 fun holes. #1 is a medium length par 5 that goes downhill, and then a bit uphill into the green. #2 and #3 straddle a pond that comes into play on the drives, with #2 being a dogleg left and #3 going back the other way with a dogleg right. #4 is a nice little par 3, and then #5 goes back uphill with a sharp dogleg left at the end. Throughout the Copperhead, most holes are fairly tight, though they have a number of different tees so that length can be varied for different skill levels.
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The 18th is below:
#15 is a nice-looking downhill par 3 with a large green that can make two-putts a challenge if you're on the wrong tier. The hole is a full 185 yards, and it is important to know the pin location on this 35-yard deep green.
#13 is a 175 yard par 3, called "Forced Carry." So, it shouldn't be an surprise regarding what is necessary on this one. The same pond that comes into play on the second shot of the 12th is what needs to be carried on your tee shot from #13. There is no good place to bail out on this one. The back right is the tightest portion of the green and is guarded by two pot bunkers in the front and a larger bunker in the rear. The far part of the green on the left side is the safest place to be.
Unfortunately, I missed out on taking pictures on much of the holes on this course, as this was before I made a commitment to The Bucket List. I don't have anything to add until the 12th, which was also one of my favorites on the course. Called "The Bridge Hole," the 12th is 355 yards, and must navigate two ponds that comes into play in a number of different places. First, water must be carried from the tee and avoided on the right, but it's really only a hybrid or fairway wood to clear the area that it would come into play. Then, a separate pond comes into play on your approach, which crosses the fairway and extends down the right side. In addition, greenside bunkers in the front and back will get in the way of an imprecise approach shot. A fun hole all around.
Below is the opening hole, a 535-yard par 5. This picture is from the landing area looking back toward the tee. The point of this picture is to show some of the elevation change at Copperhead, a rarity in Florida.
The 4th hole is the first par 3 at Copperhead. The hole plays 165 yards from the Green tees, with bunkers surrounding it.
#5 is an uphill par 5 that makes a sharp left turn at the end. The hole is 570 yards, and even longer when you take the elevation into account. This is a three shot hole.