“Snake” Bitten at Innisbrook Golf Resort
Great food and challenging courses await golfers at Innisbrook, a Salamander Golf & Spa Resort, Palm Harbor, Florida.
The colossal onion rings at the Market Salamander Grille are no garden-variety battered bulbs. It takes a meticulous three-day process to prep these outrageously tasty golden goliaths.
“On the first day we cut the onions and on the second day we ice them,” explains chef de cuisine Caitlin Durren. “After they’re iced we pull off the outside membrane and let them dry,” “Once they’re dry we dredge them in onion powder, tempura, and then our mix of panko bread crumbs, cilantro and shredded parmesan.”
The exterior of the plate filling hoops are thin and crunchy while the inside explodes with hot oniony goodness. While brilliant unadorned, a dip in the accompanying house made red chili sauce will add a sweet kick. The exacting three-day process is well worthwhile as are Innisbrook’s three world renowned holes that have golfers clamoring to come play here.
The jaws of this Salamander Resort’s Copperhead course, where the PGA Tour’s Valspar Championship is held, are the treacherous trio of finishing holes. Nicknamed Moccasin, Rattler and Copperhead — the slithery sobriquets are befitting of the challenge therein. A ravenous snake with its forked tongue sticking out stands sentinel ahead of the tee boxes for the 16th hole.The statue sets the serpentine mood and let players know it’s time to brave “The Snake Pit,” the most coldblooded sequence of holes in the Sunshine State.
Hole 16, Moccasin – 458 yards, par 4
Perennially shortlisted as one of the toughest holes on tour, players must navigate a slender and snaking fairway that curls around the drink on the right with pines framing the left side. It then cinches toward a slightly elevated green guarded by a couple bunkers up front. To give yourself a chance to score well you either need to pull off a power fade off the tee that splits the difference between water and woods or long hitters can take a more brazen line cutting over a section of the lake to reduce yardage on their approach shot. Paul Casey winner of the 2018 Valspar Championship who was on fire all tourney had a rare hiccup here with a double-bogey on this beast of a hole in round three.
Hole 17, Rattler – 206 yards, par 3
Many nerves have been rattled by Copperhead’s penultimate offering, a long par 3 that culminates in an upside down pear shaped green with a steep fall off in the front which penalizes under-hit shots. Players managed a 3.135 scoring average here at the last Valspar Golf Championship with only 7 percent of the field knocking in a birdie while 17 percent bogeyed it. It may be the largest green on the course but landing it off the tee is no easy feat.
Hole 18, Copperhead – 443 yards, par 4
A plethora of bunkers populate the right and left side of the course’s namesake hole and final salvo. Golfers typically holster their driver here to avoid a berth in the beach, leaving them with a long approach shot and only a glimmer of a green that slopes measurably from back to front. Even when there’s no championship on the line managing to not cause damage to your scorecard here is cause for celebration. The field managed a 4.172 scoring average at the last Valspar Championship with 23 percent of players paying a visit to the bogey-man on this hole.
While golfers flock to Innisbrook mainly to play Copperhead, it’s well worth checking out the resort’s other three tracks. The beguiling Island Course plays as tough as Copperhead and the North Course was refreshed last year with resurfaced greens and rebuilt bunkers.
Interested in vacationing at Innisbrook Golf & Spa Resort? Click here for reservations or call your local AAA Travel Agent at 800-398-0379.
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