The par 71 course at the Palm Harbor, Fla., resort was closed for six months to regrass all fairways and rough, rebuild each green, install a new irrigation system, and reshape the bunkers back to Larry Packard’s original design.
On December 8, the Copperhead course at Innisbrook Resort & Golf Club in Palm Harbor, Fla., re-opened with a ceremonial round, the Tampa (Fla.) Tribune reported.
The course, which hosts the PGA Tour’s Valspar Championship every March underwent a $4.5 million restoration, not a renovation of the Larry Packard course that opened in 1972, the Tribune reported.
“That’s been our battle cry all summer,” said Bobby Barnes, Innisbrook’s director of golf. “With a course like Copperhead, which gets a lot of play and hosts the tournament, it has wear and tear. We re-did the greens something like 10-15 years ago, so it was important to modernize it.
“A lot of people say it is the gem of Innisbrook, which it is. It’s a 40-plus-year-old golf course and it needed a facelift. We made it look new again, and that’s what has got everyone excited.”
Copperhead, a 7,340-yard, par 71 course, was closed for six months and underwent a complete restoration, including re-grassing all fairways and rough, rebuilding each green and reshaping bunkers back to Packard’s original design. The club also installed a new irrigation system that, while adding 500 sprinkler heads, will save 11 million gallons of water a year, the Tribune reported.
“Copperhead is the jewel of Innisbrook,” Johnson said. “I don’t play much golf, but when I do, it’s on Copperhead. It’s the only course I play. We’re thrilled we can make these restorations and enhancements, while saving 11 million gallons of water—that’s music to the EPA’s ears.
“Copperhead has gone under a renaissance now. Larry Packard has left us a legacy, and that legacy will live on with this course.”
Each green was rebuilt to USGA specifications with TifEagle Bermuda grass and restored to their original size to allow for additional pin placements. Fairways were replaced with Celebration Bermuda grass for a more consistent hitting surface and the fairways on Nos. 2 and 3 were raised, the Tribune reported.
Additionally, a new green-side bunker will greet golfers on No. 12, two small bunkers on No. 13 will be combined to one and two fairway traps on No. 9 will be pushed back and come into play for longer hitters. Also, many of the viewing areas around the greens were modified to allow for larger galleries during the Valspar Championship, which will be held March 10-13, 2016, the Tribune reported.
“The players always come here and really enjoy this place,” said PGA Tour veteran George O’Neil, who has two career wins and finished tied for second at Copperhead in 2008. “The golf course is magnificent. I’ve always enjoyed it. Guys relax a bit here and really get into the Florida Swing.”
The restoration also included the reshaping and rebuilding of Copperhead’s bunkers and adding a set of staircase traps on the uphill 18th hole. At the practice facility, an additional tier was added to the driving range and a new practice green was added for chipping, pitching and bunker shots, the Tribune reported.
Koch, a longtime Tampa resident and appointed ambassador to the Valspar Championship, was impressed by the restoration to the course he’s been playing nearly twice as long as the tournament’s defending champion, Jordan Spieth, has been alive, the Tribune reported.
“I’ve been playing here for virtual 40 years,” Koch said. “I got to play it when it first opened. It’s one of the grand courses in Central Florida, and they did just enough and didn’t change it. The players are going to love it.”