Golf Sports

What happens when you mix a Tiger with a Snake Pit

Famous section of Valspar course ready to challenge legendary golfer

PALM HARBOR, Fla. — All day, spectators at the Innisbrook Resort Copperhead Course lined up to capture a particular photo.

Was it a picture of Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy, both of whom are making their debut this week at the Valspar Championship?

Nope.

Fans simply had to get a shot of the infamous bronze snake statue near the beginning of the 16th tee. This sculpture marks the start of the haunted ‘Snake Pit’.

What in the world is the Snake Pit?

“Sixteen, seventeen, and eighteen,” spectator Cynthia Hassall exclaimed, describing the infamous three-hole finish.

PALM HARBOR, FLA – March 6 – A plaque on the sculpture of a snake marks the beginning of the “Snake Pit’, the three-finishing holes at the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club in Florida. March 6, 2018 Peter Mendelsohn Photo

The ‘Snake Pit’ is notoriously challenging, especially the 475-yard par-4 16th hole, with a narrow fairway flanked by water on one side and trees on the other.

“It’s tough, it’s pretty tough,” Hassall said. “We just walked through it. It’s fun to be here in person because you don’t see the scope and the undulations at home.”

“We just took a picture there!” said Hassall, excitedly pointing to the snake statue.

Everyone takes pictures next to the snake.

But sometimes, the legendary reptile warrants a little bit too much attention.

“We got run off!” spectator Joe Conley said, describing the last time he’d taken a picture next to the snake. “One of the golf people were interviewing up here on the tee and he said you’ve got to get out of the way because they were shooting off the tee towards the snake.

“I had a ghost to holler at him and say dang on Englishmen,” Conley joked.

Lots of stories were told about the Snake Pit.

Volunteer Mike Baker’s eyes lit up when he discussed it.

“The Snake Pit was Turn 1 and that’s where all the drunks went,” Baker said.

The ‘Snake Pit’ Baker was referring to was an unruly location at the Indianapolis 500 in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.

“Me and my buddy Jimmy, we were just kids … we carried 100 programs, sell them all out … we’d get our next 100 programs and sell the same people programs because they were too drunk to know!”

Everyone’s got a story about a Snake Pit. Even if it isn’t the one here.