Hole-by-hole: Innisbrook's Island golf course demands attention to details

By Tom Spousta, Contributor

Playing the Island Course at Innisbrook? Need some local knowledge? Host Professional Jay Overton has been at Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club for three decades.

18 Holes | Resort | Par: 72 | 7310 yards
Innisbrook's Island Course - Hole 2
Innisbrook Resort's Island course has a reputation for being just as tough as the famed Copperhead.
Innisbrook's Island Course - Hole 2Innisbrook's Island Course - Hole 18Innisbrook's Island Course

TampaBayGolf.com recently sat down with Overton and asked him to take us through the Island, Copperhead, Highlands South and Highlands North golf courses.

Innisbrook's Island Course: Overview

Copperhead gets most of the attention, but the Island course has a reputation for being just as tough. The NCAA men's and women's championships have been played here over the years, and it's arguably tighter than its more muscle-bound brother. Island has the same rolling terrain and dips and rises and curves that demands you pay attention on every shot.

Innisbrook's Island Course: Front vs. Back

Other than having only one par-5 hole on the back nine (which plays to par 35), both sides are pretty much similar. Renovations pushed the length from 6,990 yards to 7,320 yards.

Here, Overton offers his analysis on Island's design and a few of its more challenging holes:

Island's seventh hole: No. 7: 540 yards, par 5

This hole is a subtle par 5 with water on the right to an elevated green. It's a tight drive with a generous landing area for a second shot.

"We wanted to force the play to the left," Overton said. "But if you're a super long player and challenge the woods to the right or water to the right or the bunkers by the green, you can go for it."

Hit driver, and layup with an iron or hybrid, leaving a wedge into a green that visually runs away from you.

Island's eighth hole: 198 yards, par 3

This is a 4-iron or hybrid club. It‘s uphill, usually against a prevailing wind, to a green that slopes severely from back to front and right to left. There are five different bunkers around the green. Nothing is flat here. Everything works off the crown to the area between the bunkers. This is a great example of reading the greens by following the drainage patterns.

Island's ninth hole: 390 yards, par 4

This is a dogleg left that goes downhill and has an angled fairway that creates a lot of sidehill lies. Water cuts across the fairway, and water plays havoc with you near the green.

"You take a look at this hole here, and you say, I'm not in Florida. I can't be in Florida," Overton said. "You've got elevation and Lowcountry features on this hole." A driver leaves you with a 6- or 7-iron.

Island's 10th hole: 435 yards, par 4

The tee shot is a 235-yard forced carry from the back tees, and the tree in the middle of the fairway is 290 yards. From there to the center of the green is 215 yards, straight up the hill with a subtle dogleg left. It's a driver and a long iron or hybrid club, even for some of the longest players. A lot of Island's long par 4s look like par 5s, given the sloping and rolling nature of the land.

"With the wind in your face, this is a par 5 for me," Overton said.

Island's 16th hole: 450 yards, par 4

No. 16 is one of the best par 4s on the property. The landing area is guarded dramatically by two bunkers on the right at 265 yards or so. The club added oak trees to the right to stop the players from going out there and having an easier angle to the green. The hole was designed to force the tee shot a little to the left. The green is framed by two oak trees to the right and a bunker and two oak trees on the left. A small pond to the left also catches your attention. A driver and 5- or 6-iron usually works here.

Island's 18th hole: 365 yards, par 4

No. 18 is not the hardest finishing hole. But disasters can happen here, according to Overton. There is no margin of error for a right or left shot or for a shot that doesn't go long enough. You have to hit this 225 yards off the tee to the right-center portion of the fairway to get into position for an angle into the green. Maybe a 7- or 8-iron from there, an approach taking you over two bodies of water ... one fronting the green, and one on the right to the bulkhead side of the green.

But the fun really starts when you get to the green; it's one of the most undulated and severe greens they have on the property. That's the real challenge on this hole.

Tom SpoustaTom Spousta, Contributor

Veteran golf writer Tom Spousta keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation. He has covered golf and other sports for USA Today and The New York Times. Tom lives on a Donald Ross-designed golf course in Sarasota, Fla.


 
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