There are four courses at the world-renowned Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club, which are set in 900 pristine acres of Florida’s Palm Harbor. American architect E. Lawrence Packard designed all four layouts between 1969 and 1973. The Copperhead course is his most famous and arguably best achievement but his Island course – host to numerous U.S. Open qualifiers and NCAA Championships – is not far behind in the rankings.
“It’s not easy growing up in the shadow of a famous younger sibling.” Wrote Rob Armstrong in his book Golfing Florida’s Best. “There are always comparisons, often some jealousies, sometimes even a rivalry. If there is a rivalry between the Island and the famous Copperhead, let me weigh in. The Island is a spectacular golf course. It’s extremely tight. It’s also tough, beautiful, memorable, and a superior test of the game. And if it stood alone, away from its younger relation, it would enjoy a much greater level of recognition and adulation. As it is, I’m hard pressed to vote on which is the better track. Each has a tremendous amount to offer in that they present a different spectrum of challenges and rewards.”
“The Island offers a wonderful mix of terrain and topography. The opening half dozen holes are fairly flat, with more water than Noah faced. The middle six are hilly and undulating – unusual for Florida golf courses. And the final six are a mix of rolling hills, trees and lakes. Architect Packard varies the size of his greens. His bunkers – 74 in all – are a demonstration of his design skill. He has a tendency to put a lot of space between his greenside bunkers and the putting surface, so without a precise sand game it’s possible to get out of a trap and still be in the rough. If Copperhead rewards raw power, the Island rewards accuracy and finesse.”