Florida Swing: Play Where the Pros Play!

“The Bear Trap” was coined in honor of the difficulty and as a tribute to PGA Tour legend Jack Nicklaus, on PGA National Resort's Champion course is an intimidating trifecta of holes – 15, 16 and 17 – known as among the most demanding 3-hole stretches on the PGA TOUR.

ORLANDO, Florida – As the PGA Tour makes its annual “Spring Swing” through some of Florida’s favorite golf destinations, here are some interesting observations on the courses of the PGA Tour’s Florida Swing. Each of these courses are open to the public and everyone likes to play where the pros play!

Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club and Lodge (Orlando): The King’s home is my favorite one to play of the four venues. The hospitality is great and the course is loaded with memories of Arnie. Being always is a treat. If you get an opportunity to stay the Club’s historic Disney Cottages, don’t pass it up.


Copperhead Innisbrook Resort (Palm Harbor): Architect Larry Packard’s masterpiece – home of the Snake Pit – reminds me a bit of LA Country Club (North) thanks to its sweeping, larger-than-life landscape. Just a great course made even better by the 2015 renovations that raised some fairways and improved drainage.


The Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort is the most recognizable of Innisbrook’s four Tampa, Florida courses and it plays host to the world’s greatest golfers during the PGA TOUR’s annual visit to the resort for the Valspar Championship scheduled March 19-22.

TPC Sawgrass Players Stadium Course (Ponte Vedra Beach): This really is Pete Dye at his best. Yes, it’s as tough as any course in Florida, but not as tricked up as before the 2016 renovation. There isn’t a weak hole on the course. The 17th island hole gets most of the notoriety, but my favorite is the 462-yard, par-four, 18th. There’s water to the left off the tee and not much bail-out room to right. A great finishing hole, where you’re a Tour player or 20-handicap.


Champion at PGA National Resort (Palm Beach Gardens): The Jack Nicklaus-design sometimes (undeservedly) gets short-changed in the mix with the others on the Florida Swing. The Champ is a solid golf course from start to finish. And for those critics who think the Bear Trap (holes 15-16-17) is nothing but a marketing ploy, try finishing those three at par or better, particularly when the wind blows.


Steve “Spike” Pike is a lifelong journalist whose career includes covering Major League Baseball, the NFL and college basketball. For the past 26 years, Spike has been one of the more respected voices in the golf and travel industries, working for such publications as Golfweek, Golf World and Golf Digest for The New York Times Magazine Group. In 1998, Spike helped launch the PGA.com web site for the PGA of America. As a freelance travel and golf writer, Spike’s travels have taken him around the world. He has played golf from Pebble Beach to St. Andrews, walked the Great Wall of China, climbed an active volcano in the Canary Islands, been on safari in South Africa and dived with sharks off Guadalupe, Baja California. He lives in Delray Beach, Fla, and can be reached at spikee41@hotmail.com.

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