Views of Innisbrook Resort's Copperhead Course, Home of the Valspar Championship

Text and Photos by Jeffrey A. Rendall

PALM HARBOR, FL – There’s a certain appreciation that goes along with experiencing a truly thoughtful golf course, one that demands strategy as well as skilled shot-making to ultimately conquer.

That’s certainly the case at Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club’s Copperhead Course, which is perhaps most famous for hosting the PGA Tour’s Valspar Championship every March, but also has established a niche for offering a layout that requires serious mental effort to make a score.

Some of the course’s fans include former Ryder Cup Captains Curtis Strange and Paul Azinger. Strange said, “If I could only play one course the rest of my life, it would be Copperhead. It has that much character.”

Similarly, Azinger called Copperhead “the best course we play on Tour.”

Neither man tees it up at the Valspar any longer, but recent winners include John Senden, Gary Woodland, Retief Goosen and Jim Furyk – and it’s likely they also hold high opinions of Copperhead as well. Perhaps the best thing about the tournament (and Copperhead) is that it isn’t your typical birdie-fest on Tour, with winning scores usually hovering around 8 to 10 under par.

The Larry Packard-designed Copperhead Course opened in 1971 and is accessible to the public when the pros aren’t around, always a nice benefit for those of us who enjoy pitting our scores against the best in the game.

It’s no contest, but nice to see that even professionals have to hit precise shots to gain an advantage over Copperhead. It’s also great to understand how course management helps save strokes, even if these guys are able to hit it much higher and longer than we could even dream about.

Despite its presence on the west coast of Florida (near Tampa), there are some elevation changes that add to the character of the course and set it apart from many in the Sunshine State.

Copperhead is also known for its ‘Carolina’ flavor, with bulkhead fronted greens reminding this player of Harbour Town Golf Links on Hilton Head Island (after all, the courses are from the same time period). The way the layout’s bunkers are placed to define targets and mature trees give it that quality, which means even some drives in the fairway will still require some shot-shaping to reach the green.

Naturally, the course’s greatest defense is its greens, with severe slopes and fast playing surfaces playing havoc with your putting nerves. On some of these greens, if you’re above the hole, a three-putt is almost a certainty.

Therefore, club carefully on the approach, and don’t take too many chances – or Copperhead just might bite you.

Here are some of the views you’ll see at the Copperhead Course, as well as on TV:

The par five 1st hole demonstrates the need for strategy at the outset on the Copperhead Course, with several options greeting players from tee to green.

Do not be fooled by the beauty of the par three 15th hole -- it can grab you if you miss the green.

Terrific course conditions are the norm at the Copperhead Course, not just for a two-week period in the early spring when the pros walk the layout.

The view from the tee of the par four 2nd hole. Most players will take the safe play of laying-up to the fat part of the fairway, but daredevils may try to shape it around the corner.

Trees to the right and a huge bunker to the left will force you to thread the needle on the par four 10th hole.

Like all the greens on Copperhead, the par four 7th hole is well bunkered.

Copperhead is said to have a Carolina low-country feel. Here, you see why.

From behind the flag on the par four 3rd hole. You cannot tell from this view, but the severity of the dogleg will test you off the tee.

The par three 13th hole will definitely remind you of another famous Tour venue several hundred miles to the north in South Carolina.

Sand is not the only thing to worry about on the approach to the par four 9th hole -- the severity of the green will get you if you are on the wrong side of the putting surface.


Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead Course
36750 U.S. Highway 19 North
Palm Harbor, Florida, 34684

Phone: (727) 942-2000; (800) 456-2000 resort reservations



Black               7340    144/76.8
Green              6725    136/73.7
White              6180    130/70.8          143/76.4 (W)
Red                 5605    130/73.6


Check the Innisbrook website for current rates and package information.

Innisbrook Resort offers excellent accommodations of several different types, including all the comforts of home (in the suites) as well as highly rated restaurants.

Not just golf, the resort also offers a full-service Spa, tennis, racquetball, a fitness center, jogging course, mini golf and a playground, amongst other activities.

The conference facilities also make it a great place to hold meetings.

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