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Week 10: Innisbrook Resort, Island Course - Palm Harbor, FL

Tees Played:  Green: 6,686 yds 72.7/140 ; White: 6,130 yds 69.7/130

Conditions: Warm to Hot, Very Light Breeze

Price: $$$ ($75)



The Innisbrook Resort is a large golf and spa resort in Palm Harbor, just a short drive north of the Clearwater/St Petersburg area on the Central Florida gulf coast. A longtime favorite of Tampa Bay area golfers, the resort has three championship courses and hosts an annual PGA Tour event, now the Valspar Championship, on it's Copperhead course (previously reviewed). While not quite as long as Copperhead, the Island Course can play every bit as tough. The Island is somewhere between a shot-making and target golf course. Each hole offers a unique challenge creating a course that demands good decision making and shot choices, and then makes you execute those shots. 


The course conditions in general are very good to excellent. While Copperhead is the show-piece, the other courses are maintained with the same care and detail to ensure a quality golf experience for resort guests. The Island's fairways are narrow so accuracy off the tee is a premium for a good score. The turf conditions were excellent considering our summer date meant lots of recent rain. Even so, we were not cart path restricted and the fairways were only just soft enough to slightly affect roll. The rough was deep enough that you knew you didn't want to be in it, but it wasn't penalizing. Wander too far off the line of the hole there is a variety of trouble waiting for you. Some holes have bunkering around the landing area, others are lined with cypress, and others shaped by water (though maybe not as much as the name 'Island Course' suggests). The greens were in excellent condition, held shots well, and had true, consistent roll with medium speed that approached fast as they dried out from our early morning start. 


The practice facilities at all the resort's courses are very good. The Island's large practice putting/chipping green is adjacent to the clubhouse and first tee, and represents the course conditions well. The full swing range is across the street from the clubhouse but they maintain a 10 minute cycle of carts shuttling from the clubhouse to the range. The practice range has great turf, plenty of hitting stations and targets, quality practice balls, and coolers with chilled water bottles. Again, top rate even for a resort facility with a practice bunker the only piece lacking.


The best description for the course employees is fantastic. Clubhouse personnel were friendly, enthusiastic, helpful and informative. The outside assistants are a great source for info on how the course is set up and how it's playing. Since keeping things on-time is part of maintaining the good resort experience, you will see the on-course rangers more often than some other places. Our tournament play rules can slow things down a bit, but even with that we were only asked once to try and speed up our play. The rangers are present, but not typically fussy or in any way disrespectful. You'll also never find yourself wondering when/if you'll ever see the beverage cart again. They make rounds enough to avoid that without being intrusive or a hindrance. In short, I've never had a negative experience with any course employee during any of my several visits to the resort.


Overall impression: A definite recommend. Innisbrook does a fantastic job making sure you have an enjoyable golf experience. The Island course will challenge your course management and shot making skills while the course conditions and environment will leave you wanting to come back. Like most Florida resorts, the peak (cool weather) season rates will be a bit higher. You'll also want to be aware of the Tour's early spring play date as the resort accommodations will be full along with increased traffic and more crowded play at the other courses. 






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thanks for the reviews.enjoy reading them.

Even though I am at the opposite end of the country,it is nice to read about different courses.

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Final Week: 2-Day - Mission Inn Resort, Howey In the Hills Florida

Tees Played: El Campeon - Blue 6,601 yds 73/139, White 6,242 yds 71.1/135

                     Las Colinas - Blue 6,829 yds 74.1/130, White 6,365 yds 71.3/129

Conditions: Hot, Humid, Afternoon Rain

Price: Golf $ ($49), Lodging $$$ 



The Mission Inn Golf and Spa resort sits in little, out of the way, Howey In The Hills Florida. It is about a 45 minute drive from the eastern side of Orlando near Lake Harris and just east of the Florida Turnpike. This was our league's final regular event, played over two days. The first was on the El Campeon Course with the second round on the Las Colinas course. El Campeon is a challenging, shot-makers course with a parkland feel to the layout. Las Colinas has more of a links feel but still requires sound strategy and good shot making to manage a low score. Both courses offer more elevation change than you expect to find in Florida, and it is incorporated very well into the course designs. 


Course Conditions were consistent between the two courses, and between the better side of good and excellent. Tees were all well manicured. The fairways had good feel and playability and showed good drainage to maintain that after some heavy rain at the end of day one and overnight between rounds. Greens received shots well and rolled true with moderately fast speeds. The only mark against course conditions were some bare/rough spots along the edges of a few Las Colinas greens. Most of the greens are rather large and there is lots of undulation and slope that will challenge you to place the ball on the proper portion of the green with your approach or three putts are definitely in play. The rough on both tracks was noticeable but not penalizing, allowing you to miss the fairway - just don't miss by much. There are ample trees and other hazards that dictate the strategy for each hole such that any shot wandering too far off the line of play will likely cost you a stroke (or more) to get back in the hole.


The practice facilities are all adjacent to/near the central clubhouse. The large practice putting green sits across the path from the starting holes and replicates the on-course conditions well. There is a large, all turf, full-swing range and chipping/bunker practice area just across the parking lot with quality practice balls pre-positioned for each. The clubhouse attendants maintain a cart shuttle to-from the range or it is only a short walk. 


As expected with any resort property, the course employees were all friendly, energetic, and seemed genuinely interested in making sure we had a good experience. Clubhouse attendants were there with cart shuttle service from the parking lot and to the practice range. The were given our group's tee sheet, so carts were all pre-positioned. Post round club attendants were there to clean clubs, and were happy to hear stories of the round and share a laugh. There is also club storage available for guests of the resort. The folks inside the clubhouse were all fantastic as well. The bar/grill is fairly large and overlooks the 1st/18th fairways withe a view of the lake between. On-course personnel were present, without being intrusive. The rangers will be nice about asking you to maintain pace of play and the bev cart will circulate frequently enough you'll not need to wish for them.


Overall impression: the golf courses at Mission Inn will not disappoint and are worth the drive to play. They are challenging for all levels while being fun to play. Using good course strategy and making quality shots will lead to a good score, while wild misses or over-aggressive shot selection can quickly build up to big numbers. The golf courses are a great value and since this is a golf course review not a resort review I will only say the accommodations and other resort amenities may not feel like the same. A definite recommend for golf, while only a mild recommend for the overall resort. 

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Season 2/Week 1 - Crescent Oaks Country Club, Tarpon Springs FL

Tees Played: Black - 6,566 yds, 71.6/135; Blue - 5,951 yds, 68.7/123

Conditions: Sunny and Mild, light Breeze

Price: $ ($26.75)


Course Description: Crescent Oaks Country Club is a public welcome golf facility within a gated community in Tarpon Springs FL, which is just north of Tampa Bay and a short drive from the Tampa/St Petersburg areas. The layout is a little bit of a mixed bag of shot-making parkland style, and links style holes. There are several short par 4's in the layout that offer ample scoring opportunities. The fairways tend to be narrow and there are some waste/deep rough areas to watch for as well as lots of water and bunkering that dictate shot choices and demand accuracy. The greens are relatively small and well protected and very few have any significant undulation. 

Course Conditions: The greens, though small did roll true with a consistently decent pace though I wouldn't call them fast. The fairways were firm and dry, and while green enough, the fairway lies tended to feel a little tight. The dry, shallow fairway conditions gave plenty of roll, though one of our league players who is a member said the course plays very soft and wet during the rainy summer months. The rough along the line of play was fair and deep enough to be noticeable without over-penalizing a minor miss. There are numerous fairway bunkers, deep rough areas, trees and other penalty areas (water) to contend with if your misses stray too far. Since it is a neighborhood course besides, there are quite a lot of out-of-bounds lines to deal with as well. The only real area to downgrade on the course was the tee boxes. They were very inconsistent with patchy turf and uneven ground on more teeing areas than were level and green.

Practice Facilities: Marginal. The full swing range is away from the clubhouse, and feels crowded even with only 7 or 8 stations. It is short and narrow as well. The range balls though were decent and there is a short game practice area with bunkers another short walk further than the range. The putting green was small and also felt crowded, though it did represent the course conditions well.

Course Employees: Considering this is a public course, and they were hosting three tournament groups on the day, I'll say I was impressed. The check in staff was friendly and helpful and did a great job of getting us out on the course and ready for play on time. The on-course ranger was present without being intrusive. We saw the beverage/snack cart only once during each 9, but the turn does bring you past the clubhouse. There is a small bar in the clubhouse as well as multiple banquet rooms, and all of the servers and other attendants were a pleasure to deal with.

Overall Impression: Crescent Oaks Country Club is a nice little, somewhat out-of-the-way course that presents a good value. It won't leave you wanting but don't expect to walk away overly impressed either. The course plays challenging and fair but doesn't have a true signature hole or anything that visually will make you say, 'Wow, what a great course to play'. We were one of three tournament groups they hosted on the day, and there was another clubhouse function happening during our post-round lunch, so it was a pretty crowded place later in the morning. All that said, for a tournament group, on a peak season Saturday morning hard to beat the price.

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Great assessment of Crescent Oaks. As it is one of four courses owned and operated by Ace Golf, we take our Saturday group(40+ players) and play there at least once a year.

Sent from my iPad using MyGolfSpy

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50 minutes ago, fozcycle said:

Great assessment of Crescent Oaks. As it is one of four courses owned and operated by Ace Golf, we take our Saturday group(40+ players) and play there at least once a year.

Sent from my iPad using MyGolfSpy

Thanks Foz,

As a fellow central Florida area golfer, I'll count on you to call me out on any blatant falsehood or heresy in these assessments. 😜

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2019 Event #2 - Saddlebrook Resort, Palmer Course, Wesley Chapel Florida

Tees Played - A- Blue 6,273 yards / 72.5/136; B - White 5,820 yards / 69.5/133

Conditions - Hot, humid, moderate breeze

Price - $$ ($62)


The Saddlebrook Resort has been a Tampa area mainstay for many years now, and is just a short drive north on I-75 from Tampa. It is a golf and tennis resort with a convention center. Two 18 hole courses are on the property, the Saddlebrook and Palmer courses, both designed by the second's namesake. After playing the Palmer Course, it is about shot making and strategy. Without much in the way of elevation change the layout steers shots with lots of doglegs, narrow fairways, and lots of water haz... penalty areas and bunkering. The greens are relatively small and have lots of undulation making distance control a factor. The course pretty much lives up to the billing given in the resort web site's description. Pretty much.

Course Conditions: In general very good without being spectacular. It is a resort course after all with everything from tee to green being reasonably well manicured. We did find a few spots of patchy rough, but those were rare, and in areas that wouldn't affect a majority of players. Tee areas were well groomed, level, and large enough to avoid degradation from excessive wear. The rough was distinct, but not deep along the line of play with lots of mounding that lets the challenge of the uneven lies make up for the shallower grass. Fairways played consistently well and had a really good feel as far as firmness and depth. The greens, the greens, the greens. The greens were good to very good on the side of general conditions, consistency of speed and roll and playability. They don't quite live up to the speed billing given by the web site. The TifEagle looks and plays great, but at the end of the day they are still bermuda greens. So even though they look smooth and fast, grain is a major factor, and bermuda just rolls slower than other types of grass, so the greens felt A LOT slower than they looked. Just about everyone in the group made some kind of remark about it after the round. They also didn't seem to hold shots like other greens with a little more bounce and roll rather than hit and stick on approach shots.

Practice Area/Range: This is the only real down side to the site. The practice area itself is very nice with lots of target flags, an ample full swing area, large chipping/putting green and practice bunkers. It is also home to the resort's golf school. So as a practice area I would rate it very good. As a pre-round warm-up option, not so much. The practice area is separate from the clubhouse. By separate I mean a cart journey of several minutes through houses and resort rentals. If you need a warm-up before the round, arrive early enough to give yourself lots, and I mean lots, of time to work it in. (There's more to that)

Course Employees/Customer Service: In general, everyone was pleasant to deal with and helpful and all of that. The check in was smooth and efficient and they managed to make it as easy as possible to keep our group where they wanted and needed to be to keep us on time without it feeling like we were being fussed at. From time of arrival through departure though, it felt very clear that most of the whole setup was geared toward serving resort guests and not daily play visitors. There is no self-parking, so you have to use the same valet service the resort guests use at resort reception. There isn't a dedicated bag drop, the reception crew loads you and your bag up on a cart and shuttles you to the pro shop area. The pro-shops for both tennis and golf are part of the central recreation area with the main resort pool and outdoor dining area. If I was staying there as a resort guest I would have called it great, as a visiting daily player it gave me the feeling I was a bit of an inconvenience. Again, the people were all very pleasant to deal with, but everything, and I mean everything but the golf was over-priced ($3.25 for a can of coke from the bev-cart, don't ask on the post-round beer).

Overall Impression: This one is a Recommend with an asterisk. The course was fun to play and was in great condition, even if not to the standard of some of its resort cousins in the area. That considered, the golf is worth it for the price, just know that anything extra is going to feel like it's overpriced. Without staying on-property overnight I can't offer an opinion of the resort at large, other than to say I might have left with a better impression of the overall experience had I been an overnight guest.

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Thanks GregB, there is s9me “employee” parking close to the pro shop, IF you know how to get there.

Sent from my iPad using MyGolfSpy

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