Innisbrooks Copperhead course lets you play where the pros love to play

By March 16, 2010, 7:01 pm
innisbrook copperhead

PALM HARBOR, Fla. – As golfers, it's a special treat to play where the pros play. But to take that one step further and play where the pros love to play? Now that’s rarified air.

For more golf in Florida, or to plan your next trip, visit
The Copperhead course at Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club, host of the Transitions Championship, is such a place. Paul Azinger once said, “Copperhead is the best course we play on tour.' Stewart Cink believes “they should play a U.S. Open on this course.”

Playing Copperhead, the best of four superb courses at the resort, is a treat under any circumstances. Playing it the way the pros do, minus the talent of course, enhances the experience all the more.

'You can get an appreciation of what they face in their approaches by playing the green, or even the white tees,' said Doug Schmidt, Innisbrook’s director of marketing, who said he's seen the pros attack the course seven times and played it himself at least 100 times.

No. 2, for example, is a sharp dogleg left. You can either play safe to the right-center or bomb it over the trees that guard the dogleg. Even if you play it safe, you still have the lake to contend with. The closer you get to the water, the better route you'll have to the green.

The pros let the weather dictate what they do here. With a helping wind, many bomb it over the trees with driver. With the wind a hindrance, which it is almost every day when it kicks up from the nearby Gulf of Mexico, it's back to the safety of the 3-wood.

Even though Copperhead is 7,340 yards from the back tees, distance isn't its biggest test.

'To me, it's a thinking man's course,' Schmidt said. 'That's why Jeff Sluman can shoot a 62.'

How did the light-hitting Sluman do it?

'I was unconscious when I started and I never woke up the whole round,' Sluman told reporters after his sizzling first-round 62 in 2004.

In fact, Copperhead was one of the toughest tests on tour this past year, harder even than Augusta National, Pebble Beach or Torrey Pines South, according to PGA Tour statistics.

Copperhead Course at the Innisbrook Resort: The verdict

Copperhead is a golf course of angles and slopes, elevation and execution, risk and reward. The Larry Packard design lies atop the Ocala Sand Ridge, a geological formation that extends across the state to Ocala and terminates in the north in Jacksonville. That elevation can make a two or three-club difference.

Almost every hole has some sort of risk/reward, even if it's not always initially obvious. You have to stay focused the entire round, if not necessarily unconscious. Play wily and stay below the hole.

Of course, even if you're trying to see the layout the way the pros do, you're not playing the same course as they do during the actual tournament. For the pros, officials grow the rough to 4 ¼ inches and have the tour-quality greens rolling between 11 and 12 on the stimpmeter.
Getty Images

Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
Getty Images

Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

12/1: Dustin Johnson

16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

Getty Images

Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.

Updated Official World Golf Ranking

There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

Getty Images

Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”