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Friday, March 18, 2011

From Bear Traps to Snake Pits

Animals are well represented on the PGA Tour. For example, we have a Tiger, a Penguin, a Duck (El Pato), a Great White Shark, a Bulldog, a Walrus, and a Goose, just to name a few. We used to have, among other wild creatures roaming the trails, a Golden Bear and a Hawk.

It's probably no surprise that their native habitats -- the golf courses themselves -- also have animally-sounding names. Three weeks ago the Mayakoba tournament was played on a course called El Camaleon. Two weeks ago, a number of players got caught in the Bear Trap. Last week they fought the Blue Monster.

This week they have to wade through the Snake Pit at the Copperhead course.

Statue at the 16th at Innisbrook

In the words of, those three holes are:
  • The par-4 16th "Moccasin" (460 yards): "No. 16 is Copperhead's most intimidating par 4, with water stretching the entire right side. A well-positioned tee shot sets up a long second shot to a wide green."
  • The par-3 17th "Rattler" (215 yards): "A long par 3 to a very narrow green, No. 17 has bunkers and trees protecting both sides of the hole, making birdie a good score."
  • The par-4 18th "Copperhead" (445 yards): "The 18th is a beautiful, uphill finishing hole. An accurate tee shot will leave an uphill second shot to an elevated, hidden green. The putting surface slopes back to front and has bunkers short and long."
Sounds nasty, doesn't it? Well, the pit appeared to be empty on Thursday. In fact, the entire course offered very little resistance to the players. Paul Casey waltzed through the Pit in even par on his way to a tidy -7. Last week's winner Nick Watney, along with Martin Laird, skipped merrily through at one-under as both posted -5 to tie for second (along with Garrett Willis and Scott Stallings, who both went even at the Pit). Even defending champion Jim Furyk, who's been struggling lately, managed even par at the Pit for a -4 round.

Personally, I hate snakes. Despise them. Indiana Jones is downright enthusiastic about snakes compared to me. But the Snake Pit ain't looking so terrifying right now.

Quail Hollow, the Horrible Horseshoe, and Deere Run await the players in the next few weeks. Some of these will be real beasts. But such worries can wait. The real question right now is...

Will the Copperhead course finally sink its fangs into any of the smaller animals out and about the Pit this week? Or has Lee Trevino managed to slip another rubber snake onto the course?