TAMPA'S BEST GOLF COURSES
TAMPA'S BEST GOLF COURSES, FROM INNISBROOK
TO THE CLAW
By Ken Liebeskind
Tampa is located on the Gulf Coast, but you might call it the Golf Coast after playing some of Tampa's best golf courses. You'll play on wooded courses with spectacular water views where wildlife ranging from alligators to deer and spoonbills make the courses double as nature preserves.
A spectacular Tampa Bay golf vacation offers a range of resort and daily play golf courses, starting with the Innisbrook Golf Resort in Palm Harbor, which offers four spectacular courses. You get a view of Tampa Bay from the second tee of the Island course, one of Tampa's best golf courses, a 6,999 yard par 72 layout that challenges the best golfers with its ample water, tight fairways, intimidating hazards and abundant bunkers.
The World Woods Golf Club's Pine Barrens course in Brooksville is also one of Tampa's best golf courses, a Tom Fazio design that has been called the Pine Valley of the South and ranked in the top 100 courses in America by Golf Digest and Golf Magazine.
It's a 6,902 yard par 71 course that doesn't seem long, yet nine of the 11 par 4s are over 400 yards. Two signature holes, among the most popular in Florida, are the 4th, a 494 yard par 5 that features a deep waste area along the right side of the hole; and the 15th, a short 330 yard par 4 with a green located just across a water and sand-filled crater.
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The El Diablo Golf and Country Club in Citrus Springs is another one of Tampa's best golf courses, a Jim Fazio designed 7,045 yard par 72 course set back in the thick black woods, featuring dramatic elevation changes, fairways carved through lush pine forests, an array of deep bunkers and fast, sloped greens.
The TPC of Tampa Bay in Lutz is also one of Tampa's best golf courses, a Bobby Weed design with cypress lined fairways, ponds, wetlands, raised greens, grass swales and mounds. There are 91 bunkers in play with water hazards on 13 holes. Two signature holes are the par 5 14th and par 4 15th which dogleg to the left around a lake, with hazards coming into play around the putting surfaces. Risk reward tee shots come into play, as you attempt to cut off as much distance as possible for your second shots.
The University of South Florida course in Tampa, dubbed The Claw, is one of is one of Tampa's best golf courses and one of the most challenging in Tampa Bay. The 6,063 yard par 71 course features long tight fairways and doglegs. One golfer suggests leaving the driver in the bag on the par 5 3rd hole, which winds to the right and is bordered by wetlands and a pond. The 8th is a long par 3 over a pond to a green that slopes severely from back to front. "It's a difficult test for golfers of all abilities," he said.
Playing on Tampa's best golf courses demands the best clubs. If you're looking to hit longer drives, try the Controller 460cc Driver from www.scientificgolfclubs.com, which has a max size club head coated with an armor piercing metal once used on military missiles that adds 20 to 40 yards to the drives of many golfers. It's the driver a long distance champ said is the best he's used in over 20 years of hitting booming drives.