Four fine courses are actually golf aviaries at this final stop on The Legends of Golf Trail of the Grand Golf Resorts of Florida. The snowy egret stalks its prey dancing with lower feathers fanning like a ballerina’s tutu as a gusting wind on the North course adds to the fun and challenge. Number three has plenty of fairway stretch without hitting the lake on the left side, but it still seeks many a ball. If on the thick Bermuda edge and not a lefty, trick shots require balance not to fall in. Balance is quickly regained with the thought of gators. This is a Legends of Golf scorecard hole. Pine scent permeates the woods, carpeted by the soft red needles throughout the course. Bring your tree shots.
The South Course begins with a symphony of Ospreys nesting in a tall tree between the 1st green and 2nd tee box, calling to one another – hunter and sentinel as more of the flock tune in. The course transitions from aviary to residential affluence and back to aviary with a Granddaddy or Big Mama (we didn’t check) gator resting by the green of sixteen. After rounds may be celebrated at the Osprey Sports Bar with fire pits on a full patio and flat screen TVs.
The Island course is well named with plenty of water of course and the egrets, ibis, ospreys and cranes of all denominations. The Turnberry Pub offers gallery access to the scenic course with terrific food. Packard’s Steakhouse is the place to go for the finest cuts of beef or seafood or just a few miles from the shore, you might venture out to Rusty Bellies for fresh fish in the shrimp boat harbor of Tarpon Springs, famous for sponges. Innisbrook however has its own shore at Loch Ness, a water park and five more pools for entertaining kids, big or small. If we get a mulligan on this trip, we will definitely check out the Indaba Spa, which receives rave reviews. A treatment would be ideal as these are the final courses of our six-day trek, playing nine courses on The Legends of Golf Trail. It is a Grandiose goal set by the Grand Golf Resorts of Florida and at this point among the group, backs are straining, muscles spraining and knees creaking like Cinderella’s step-sisters. If you have hung in for the final round of this bout on the The Legends of Golf Trail, you must dig down deep for a little extra to maintain stamina during the final round. Home of the PGA Tour Transitions Championship, Copperhead boasts one of the finest parkland style layouts with multiple elevation changes and water features to intimidate pros and amateurs alike. Copperhead, the last and best of the Salamander collection of Championship courses, will prove why it is one of the better venues on the PGA Tour. Topiary features abound on this lovely southern gem with Spanish moss lazily blowing in the breezes and more waterfowl flitting around the marshlands as fox squirrels eat and play. Every major championship course has its defining set of holes that separate it from the rest of the pack – Augusta’s “Amen Corner”, PGA National’s “Bear Trap” and Copperhead’s, “The Snake Pit”. Aptly named holes such as Moccasin, Rattlesnake, and Copperhead, reflect the danger and deadly results of poorly played shots. Starting with number 15, a Par 4 dogleg right paralleled by a lake, generous fairway leads to a narrow neck in the bend for a risk/reward adventure. Continue with a long par 3 slightly uphill to a garrison of bunkers defending the green with impunity. Finish this pit of fear with the long par 4 uphill to a deceptive hidden green with false sides and front. Pin placement is critical in obtaining any chance for par or better. Alas, the Legends of Golf Trail is completed for the first time in history. We paved the way for many to come. Exhausted yet totally satisfied, we recommend the trail be added to any golfer’s bucket list. Play nine in six days or spread them out over multiple trips but keep your Legends of Golf Scorecard and check the site for special promos. Play in any order but take it from us, The Copperhead course at Innisbrook, another golf aviary, gives new meaning to the “Grand finale.”
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