PALM HARBOR — A few months ago, Innisbrook Managing Director Mike Williams revealed some of the projects the Palm Harbor golf resort was undergoing. The work included remodeling all 300 guest rooms as well as a complete overhaul of the greens on two of the resort’s championship level courses.
On Nov. 30, roughly a year after the renovation of the North Course greens, Williams and other Innisbrook officials marked the reopening of the South Course following a six-month renovation of the putting surface on all 18 greens as well as other work.
“We couldn’t be more excited to stand here today, knowing we now offer four courses with the same top-tier putting experience that is preferred by the amazing players we watch all season long on the PGA Tour,” Williams told the crowd attending the reopening ceremony. The guest list included Tarpon Springs Mayor Chris Alahouzos and City Commissioners Rea Sieber and Susan Kikta and longtime WTSP 10 News anchor Reginald Roundtree.
“Last year we completed this same renovation on the North Course with great success. Now, with the completion of the South Course greens, golfers will enjoy a consistent putting surface on all 72 holes of golf at the resort. These improvements further underscore the investment and commitment to excellence we have from owner Sheila Johnson and Salamander Hotels & Resorts.”
Salamander CEO Johnson bought Innisbrook in 2007.
Innisbrook’s director of golf, Bobby Barnes, detailed the work that was performed on the South Course. It included conditioning of the bunkers, clearing all storm canals, tree trimming and pruning to reduce shading and general maintenance.
“We’re truly blessed to have four championship golf courses here at Innisbrook,” Barnes said, adding, “the South Course is our newest and most user-friendly course and also my personal favorite to play.”
Barnes said in addition to resurfacing the grass on all 18 South Course greens and practice greens with the same TifEagle Bermuda grass used on the resort’s famed Copperhead Course, Innisbrook’s in-house crew also expanded two greens to allow for new pin placements to “help the greens stay in better shape longer.”
The PGA Tour’s Valspar Championship will return to the Copperhead Course the week on March 18.
After noting the additional work and maintenance that was done, Barnes said “we’re confident all the work will pay off for years and years to come.”
Following remarks from Dave Wirth, a former WTSP sports anchor who now works in operations for Innisbrook, the group was led to the South Course’s first tee, where Williams, Barnes and director of golf instruction Dawn Mercer launched ceremonial opening drives.
After what he claimed was a perfect drive right down the middle of the fairway, Williams spoke about the reopening of the South Course.
“It’s a great day for Innisbrook,” he said. “We now have four consistent golf courses, which is so important to our golfers. They can enjoy the same conditions the pros enjoy when they’re playing (the) Valspar (Championship). Our goal was to have that same consistency every hole of every round for every player, and now we have that. Combine that with the renovation of all our guest accommodations, which will be done by the spring, and we feel Innisbrook is now the premier golf resort in the southeast.”
Afterwards Mayor Alahouzos, who attended the ceremony’s luncheon but did not tee off with the other attendees in the afternoon, said Innisbrook is an invaluable attraction in the county.
“Innisbrook is a great addition to North Pinellas,” he said. “It brings many visitors to the area and I’m grateful because yes, people come to play golf, but it also brings a lot of revenue to Tarpon Springs and Pinellas County in the form of tourists. Mike and Sheila have done great things with the resort, and we’re lucky to have such a fine facility right here in North Pinellas County.”