Week 7: Innsbrook Resort - Copperhead Course
Tees Played: Green 73.1/139, 6,624 yds; White 71.1/137 6,243 yds
Conditions: Warm to Hot, Still to light breeze
Price: $$$ ($89)
The Innsbrook Golf Resort is a long standing favorite resort of both residents and visitors of the Tampa/St. Pete Area. The resort is about a 30 minute drive from the Tampa Airport and would be up to a 1 hour drive from most of the area beaches. The Copperhead Course hosts the PGA Tour's Valspar Championship during the spring Florida stretch leading into the masters. It is a challenging course with good variety in the shots demanded for the relatively flat property. The famous 'Snake Pit' holes 16-18 are the signature run, typically among the hardest finishing holes the Tour players face all season.
The course is always challenging, but the rating/slope truly tell you the story of Copperhead. If you manage to stay in play, and down the line of the fairway you stand a chance to score. Wander too far off the intended line, and the numerous trees, fairway bunkers, and some water will definitely run the stroke tally up for you. To help build your strategy, there is a downloadable yardage guide on the resort website, as well as an informative hole by hole guide from TrackTips on YouTube. The overall condition of the course will never be considered bad. Tees, greens, and fairways were all in very good condition for us. The rough had some issues on our day though. We got some intel post round as to why. The course gets oversewed with rye prior to the PGA event (that's how they always get nice green stuff for TV). While the bermuda in the playing areas recovers quickly in the growing season, the shade and high traffic in the rough areas is slower to recover. With that, we had lots of patchy to bare areas in the rough to deal with. We also played a day after some significant rain, so we were lift and place in the fairways.
Another note about the rough. The closer you play to the PGA week, the deeper the rough is going to be. It takes time for them to cut it back down to normal depth after the pros leave. Last season our group was a few weeks earlier, and several of us had to deal with 'lost' balls that were only a few paces from the green or fairway. If you are planning a visit to Copperhead, keep that in mind.
Practice Areas: While not expansive, the practice areas are more than adequate for a pre-round warm up. The large, mostly flat putting green is the closest to the first tee. The putting green was pretty close to the speed of the on-course greens, but does not have the contour or slope that you will face on the course. Practice balls are provided at the small to medium sized chipping green where you can practice short chips from fairway and rough. The chipping green is between the putting green and the full swing range. The full swing range is a decent walk from the first tee, and there is no cart access to the practice areas. The range has about 12 stations with balls provided, but as a busy resort course the quality of the turf may depend on your tee time. We were early, so there was still plenty of good grass at each station. Later in the day, expect lots of divots unless they move to the adjacent teeing area. There is another practice area down the street a bit used by the resort's golf school and guests that has a larger practice tee area but fewer short game areas to use.
Course Employees: Everyone we encountered seemed happy to have us there, and sincere about making our visit enjoyable. You will most likely be met at your car by the bag attendants who will load your bag on a cart to transport it, and you if you are ready, to the starting area and they will already have your cart assignment for the round. The bag and cart attendants in the starting area are a great source of daily intel on how the course is set up and playing that day. Clubhouse staff was efficient and friendly. The on-course beverage carts were well stocked and made enough rounds you won't have to wonder for long when they will be by next. The clubhouse also houses one of the resort's restaurants with a buffet breakfast available if you arrive prior to an early tee time, and a limited but varied lunch menu. The wait staff was excellent, but expect to pay resort prices for food and beverages.
Overall Impression: Any of the Innsbrook Resort's courses will provide an enjoyable golf experience. Copperhead is the show-piece course, so the fees will be a bit higher to play it. The course conditions and challenges will show you why the PGA comes back year after year. You'll also get a perspective on how good those guys really are (the championship tees are not usually marked for public play, so you'll be looking back from your tees to get the feel for it). If you aren't a straight hitter, you can expect a challenging day for the scorecard, but the course itself will leave you smiling.I have visited and stayed at the resort for other events, and I definitely recommend including Copperhead if you are planning a multi-day trip. The resort is a great place to plan a weekend or longer golf vacation, with courses that are both fun and challenging, and a staff that are genuinely dedicated to ensuring you enjoy your visit.
Driver: 917 D2, 9.5 Fujikura Blue
Fariway: 917 F2, 3-Wood Fujikura Blue
Hybrid: VKTR 19 Degree, Aldila NVH 85 Stiff
Irons: PTx, Mid Launch (21-45), KBS Tour-V Stiff
Wedges: Equalizer 50, 54, 58, KBS Tour-V Wedge Stiff
Putter: Works Fang 2-ball, 35"