When you think of Florida golf, what do you think of? For me, I think of water hazards with alligators, a lot of wildlife, Bermuda grass, and last but not least pretty flat, mundane golf courses with little to no elevation change. On these golf courses, when you see undulation in the fairways or mounding, the easy assumption is to assume that it’s manmade landmarks or features. But there is one golf course, or shall I say four on Florida’s Gulf Coast that is just a little bit different than the rest or shall I say unique. That golf property is that of Innisbrook Resort.
Innisbrook Resort, however, is so much more than a golf course or golf resort as I would learn during my recent trip to Florida for the 2020 PGA Show. Simply put, Innisbrook Resort is more than a venue that hosts the PGA TOUR’s Valspar Championship. It’s a self-contained property that features a bevy of amenities as I would soon learn on a very recent tour of the property. Many thanks go out to Ramona Herald who is the Director of Public Relations for Innisbrook Resort for taking the time to show me everything that Innisbrook has to offer.
Finding Innisbrook Resort is quite easy. U.S. Route 19 runs along the gulf coast that reaches to many points in and around the Tampa/St. Petersburg area and passes through Clearwater, Dunedin (Home of the Toronto Blue Jays Spring Training Camp), Palm Harbor, and Tarpon Springs. The highway extends north to Spring Hill, Florida and beyond as it’s 264 miles long (425 km). As far as Innisbrook Resort goes it is located in Palm Harbor where you will find its main entrance right off of the popular U.S. Route 19. The resort entrance is easy to see as it is appointed with well marked-out signage.
The property that Innisbrook sits on is quite remarkable. Sitting on 900 acres, Innisbrook Resort is one of the very few places in Florida, especially close to the coast, that features natural topography. In saying that I refer to hills. As you drive into the main entrance off of #19 or the secondary entrance off of E. Klostermann Road you’ll be greeted by friendly security staff ensuring that you belong on the property whether it’s for a weekend stay or for a day trip. Security is important at Innisbrook because as you’ll soon find out there is more to Innisbrook Resort than being a golf destination. It’s a family destination.
It doesn’t take you long to start to decompress as you drive through the property. This large, stunning resort that sits so close to the urban sprawl of Tampa/St.Pete. You cannot help but feel enamored as you take in the lush greenery that surrounds you, the cries of Osprey filling the air, and the sparkling waters that dot the resort. All pressed against a seemingly cloudless blue sky. Not to mention the gorgeous, ancient oak trees that are draped in Spanish Moss. Innisbrook Resort really feels like a refuge… A sanctuary that just beckons you to feel calm, be slow and be relaxed.
As you enter the resort from the main entrance all of the low-rises that house the accommodations are listed in alphabetical order. All named after famous golf courses. For example, “M” is for Muirfield.
The amenities on the resort are plentiful, to say the least. It truly is a literal cornucopia of creature comforts. There are trams that will take you throughout the property. So if you wanted to go to Packard’s Steakhouse for an 18oz Ribeye you have that option. There is no shortage of dining options as there are five locations including The Market, Turnberry Pub, The Grill at Loch Ness, and Market Salamander Grille and Bar without leaving your parking space. That’s actually if you have a vehicle with you. If you like live entertainment (music) than the Osprey Club is where you want to be on Friday and Saturday nights. The Osprey Club seemingly flows out the convertible patio doors turning the space into a large open-air bar. A gorgeous patio is adorned with fire pits and overlooks the nearby greens of the golf course.
If you wanted to spend a day at the beach there is a complimentary shuttle that will transfer you to and from the resort to Honeymoon Island State Park. If you’ve never been here, you are missing out. An airport shuttle is available for a surcharge.
For tennis and racquet sports lovers Innisbrook Resort features 11 clay courts with 7 of them being available for illumination. Looking for a game and have nobody to play with? Let the concierge at the tennis centre know and they’ll be more than happy to find a game for you. Also, there are three indoor racquetball courts available for aficionados of that game.
On the property, there are 6 pools available for swimming including the enormous Loch Ness Monster Pool which features waterslides. It’s a great place for families as there are activities offered to keep your children/grandchildren occupied while you play golf. If you like to hike or walk through nature, enjoy one of the trails that takes you just a little bit off of the beaten path.
Do you need some extra relaxation in your life? Perhaps, you need to feel a little “Zen”? Then maybe a trip to their Salamander Spa is in order. When I walked into the spa, I felt further relaxation just on account of the soft music that played and the aromatherapy that floated through the air. The spa is full-service and offers a salon, a variety of massage, facials, manicure/pedicures and a whole lot more. How about taking steam in their Eucalyptus Steam Room? Are you wanting to get some quiet time with your loved one? How about a couples massage in a room with a gas fireplace? Afterward, enjoy even more quiet time with your loved one drinking a glass of wine in their beautiful courtyard. The staff here is friendly and is there with one purpose. To make you feel welcome, happy, and relaxed.
Innisbrook Resort is a wedding destination as well. What a stunning place to exchange your nuptials. The “Wedding Tree” quickly comes to mind when I think about weddings at Innisbrook Resort.
There are several room types to choose from during your stay at Innisbrook Resort. Ranging from Deluxe Guest Rooms with 300 square feet, their Executive Suite with 750 square feet (with a kitchenette), their 1 and 2-bedroom suites with 1,000 and 1,200 square feet respectively (feature full kitchen) to their 2,000 square foot 2-storey Penthouse Suite.
All of the rooms here have been renovated and extensively remodeled. The rooms are tastefully decorated in modern decor and in the case where there are kitchens, they come fully-equipped with stainless steel appliances.
Alright, I know you’ve been waiting to find out about the golf at Innisbrook Resort. There are four championship golf courses at Innisbrook Resort and all of them were designed by architect Lawrence Packard who lived to be almost 102 years of age. All four are unique in their own right and all feature their own stand-alone Clubhouse/Pro Shop. There is a golf academy on the property as well. The Innisbrook Golf Institute was founded 30 years ago by its Founder Dawn Mercer.
- Copperhead Course – The golf course that every golfer knows at Innisbrook. This is the course that is home to the PGA TOUR’s Valspar Championship. It measures over 7,200 yards from the tips and the “Snake Pit” is where good rounds can disappear very quickly.
- North Course – The Par 70, 6,325-yard course is no slouch. The North Course is also known as “Baby Copperhead”. Eleven holes feature water hazards while the green complexes are well-bunkered. It might be short but your accuracy has to be mighty to navigate your way around the North Course. Trees, challenging Par-3 holes and tight fairways are what awaits to “strike” you down.
- South Course – The greens on the South Course were renovated and features the same turf as the popular Copperhead Course. Here you’ll find greens constructed of TifEagle Bermuda grass. The South is more of a links-style golf course complete with waste bunkers and 10 water hazards. The South Course is a Par-71, that measures 6,620 yards from the tips.
- Island Course – I have two mental images that are lasting about the Island Course. Elegant, magnificent oak trees with the ever-present Spanish Moss draping them and the unbelievable topography change from the 10th tee to the approach up to the green. And I do mean up! While the Copperhead Course has notoriety amongst golfers, the Island Course has had its fair share of events. In the past, the Island Course has been home to U.S. Open Qualifiers, NCAA Championships, and the LPGA Tour chose the Island Course as the venue for the ISPS Handa Legends Tour Open Championship. Tight fairways, a plethora of water hazards and really is like playing three different courses in one round of golf. The Island Course is aesthetically appealing and pretty potent. Carnage awaits on this Par 72 – 7,194 yard gem.
I’m looking forward to my next visit to Innisbrook Resort as it will be a chance to take in the resort itself from a guest standpoint and maybe afford me the opportunity to play a round or two of golf. Innisbrook Resort is way more than a PGA TOUR venue. It’s a frame of mind and a sanctuary. The resort is fully self-contained with a large conference meeting space, a variety of rooms, a spa, tennis courts, and four championship golf courses, and six pools. What more could you want? There is another “magical kingdom” in Florida and that kingdom is Innisbrook Resort.
Until The Next Tee!!