The Copperhead Course at Innisbrook is known for its narrow fairways and challenging greens, but things heat up when players enter the infamous Snake Pit, guarded by a large bronze – but thankfully, still – statue.
“It’s a navigator’s course,” said NBC golf analyst Mark Rolfing. “You cannot overpower the course. It’s all about the angles there.” And after its restoration in 2015, more of the old-school charm will emerge from the track.
Last year, Charl Schwartzel topped Bill Haas, eliminating a three-stroke deficit over the last six holes to force a playoff. Despite the South African’s mastery of the Snake Pit in the final round (he went par-birdie-par to finish with a low round of the day 67), the three holes played an average of .598 strokes above par for the week, making it the fourth-toughest closing three-hole stretch on Tour in 2016.
Here’s what the pros have to look forward to at this week’s Valspar Championship.
Course: Innisbrook (Copperhead Course), Palm Harbor, Florida
Holes: 16 (par 4), 17 (par 3), 18 (par 4)
299 bogeys or worse last year at the Snake Pit..
Expect more carnage this week. pic.twitter.com/WNB1Sun7Jz
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 7, 2017
Hole 16, “Moccasin” – 460 yards, par 4
Dubbed one of the hardest holes on the PGA Tour, the 16th at Copperhead is not for the faint of heart. A narrow fairway bordered by water on the right and trees on the left leaves little room for error of the tee. Most pros will elect to hit 3-wood into this dogleg right, still setting them up with a long second shot into an elevated green.
Hole 17, “Rattler” – 215 yards, par 3
This hole’s saving grace might be that it’s the largest green on the course – but you have to get there first. The opening is pear-shaped and well protected, so depending on the pin location, this long-ish par three can go from tough to ugly from round to round.
Hole 18, “Copperhead” – 445 yards, par 4
Bunkers line both sides of this track’s finisher, meaning pros need to remain consistent off the tee right to the last hole. The uphill par-4’s green is sloped back to front, posing a tough final challenge to even the Tour’s most seasoned players. Even more so, when there’s a championship on the line.