Heritage Harbor is a par-72, 6,898 yard course with loads of water, sand and marshes to cross. Jeb Azinger designed this course located in Tampa, FL. From the back tees, the course has a rating of 73.5 and a slope of 129. Mr. Azinger’s intention was to create a playable course that the masses would enjoy, but at the same time, one that causes golfers to think and step up their game. Heritage Harbor offers four sets of tees so the course can be enjoyed by all.
During your round you’re likely to spot several species of birds including hawks and ospreys; it’s a paradise for birds as well as for golfers. Odds are that along the way you’re going to face some challenges from the bunkers as well as the marshes and water hazards; it’s inevitable.
Although the course winds through the master planned community of Heritage Harbor, there are not many holes with houses crowding the fairways. As a matter of fact, there are only five holes with houses on both sides. It’s unusual for Florida, but because of the wetlands and the design of the course there is no where to put a home. The premium on this championship course has been placed mainly on the short game, however, the large, softly undulating greens may provide some relief.
Number 1: Par 4, 346 yards. This hole can quickly jump start your round. A slight dogleg right. Play your tee shot slightly left of the right side fairway bunker. This will leave a short pitch into a green that is very wide and not very deep. Anything long will find the sand and make for a testy bunker shot. This hole presents a definite birdie opportunity.
Number 5: Par 5, 519 yards. This hole presents another good chance at birdie. If a draw is in your repertoire use it. Hit towards the pine trees that are on the right side of the fairway or if possible, carry the fairway bunker on the left side. This will leave a long yet manageable shot to the green which is wide and fairly shallow. Beware of the water right of the green if you are laying up; this pond has seen a lot if action.
Number 7: Par 3, 213 yards. This is definitely the most challenging par three on the course with water left and out of bounds right. The green is large and long and is fronted by a large sand bunker on the left. Par is a good score here.
Number 8: Par 5, 557 yards. This hole is a challenging par 5. In order to maximize your drive, you must play over the scrub brush on the right side; determining the right line is the trick. If you decide to play straight away at the bunker be warned; if you fly the trap you WILL find the water. After a successful tee shot, you will need an accurate layup shot; there are woods to the right and marshland to the left. A good layup shot will leave pitch shot to a large, slightly elevated green that slopes back to front. Par is good; birdie unlikely for most.
Number 10: Par 5, 556 yards. The only way I have ever seen anyone get on or close to the green in two is to hit their tee shot up the left side and then hit their second shot over the trees on the left. The downside is that if you don’t hit your second shot flush, you will probably find the pond that sits just beyond the trees. Most golfers will favor the right side off the tee and then hit a layup shot just past the dogleg, leaving themselves a mid-iron to the green. The green has a small ridge running through the middle of it; make sure you know the pin position as this will help decide club selection on your approach shot.
Number 13: Par 4, 415 yards. You can leave your driver in the bag on this hole; a three wood or long iron will do just fine. Layup short of the wetlands and leave yourself a mid iron to the green. Your approach shot is blind; on most days you can barely see the top of the flag. The green is large and fairly flat. Par is actually a good score here. If you make birdie, odds are you got lucky on your approach shot.
Number 15: Par 5, 577 yards. The best line off the tee is over the pond left of the tee box. You will need to be extra careful; on this line you are coming very close to a house which I am sure has seen its fair share of balls. If you hit it straight off the tee, not only will you have a layup shot over some brush but if you hit it too good, you’ll be in the woods. A successful layup shot will leave a short pitch to a large green that features several undulations.
Number 18: Par 4, 406 yards. From the back tees you can probably hit driver; any other set of tees, you are looking at a layup shot of around two hundred yards. Your approach shot is pretty much a blind shot over wetlands to a large green that slopes gently from back to front. There is little margin for error on approach; you are either putting or reaching into your bag for another ball.
Last Word: Heritage Harbor is an interesting course in that some holes are wide open and other holes require a lot of thought. The biggest downside is the difference between the Gold and Blue tees; over 800 yards. It would be nice if they could add another set of tees around 6500 yards. Although not listed above, number 14 is far and away the toughest hole from the back tees. A par three measuring 263 yards the only bailout option you have off the tee is right; it’s all carry over water and wetlands. There are some holes where birdie is a definite possibility and some holes where you will struggle to make par. The course is best played with someone that has played it before as there are a lot of shortcuts that can make your score a lot lower. For more information or to book a tee time, visit Heritage Harbor online at www.heritageharborgolf.com or give them a call at (813) 949-4886.