Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Heritage Isles – Another Great Course in New Tampa

Heritage Isles was built by renowned course architects Gordon G. Lewis and Jed Azinger and opened for play in 2000. Their goal in constructing Heritage Isles was to work with the land as it was; not only to preserve its rustic beauty, but also to create a course that was both challenging and enjoyable. By all indications they have succeeded.
Heritage Isles winds its way through native cypress heads and meandering wetlands, providing a bountiful habitat for native wildlife. You will find cypress trees, wispy pines and stately oaks on nearly every hole. Although beautiful to look at, these same trees can become your worst enemy on some holes. Water comes into play on 13 holes; some with forced carries. Sand bunkers are strategically positioned along the gently rolling fairways – some high lipped and penal in nature. Most of the greenside bunkers flank the greens, leaving the fronts open for bump and run shots. Some approach shots will require low running pitches; others will require high, arching lobs. The greens are typically very large, making pin position and club selection very important. If putting is your strength, you can probably shave a few strokes off your score. Four sets of tees make the course enjoyable for golfers of all abilities.

Dent/Bradshaw School of Golf
The Dent/Bradshaw School of Golf draws on the combined knowledge and experience of Jim Dent, a PGA Tour professional for over 30 years; and Rick Bradshaw, an award winning PGA teaching professional with over 25 years of teaching experience. For over 12 years, Jim and Rick have developed a teaching philosophy second to none. The school utilizes the most advanced golf training equipment including the Dynamic Balance System with real time video feedback.  This unique golf swing training computer enables golfers to both see and feel the critical power generating force in a perfect golf swing. In addition, the school utilizes the V1 video system so you can compare your swing to the top PGA tour pros in the world. It’s no wonder that the Dent/Bradshaw School of Golf has been ranked by Golf Magazine as a Top 50 Golf School in America.

Clubhouse and Amenities
An 11,000 square foot clubhouse is perfectly situated on the golf course grounds. In it, you will find a full service restaurant and the golf pro shop complete with everything you will need for a great round of golf. The practice facilities include an aqua driving range, a putting green, and a chipping green. For the residents of Heritage Isles, the amenities are endless: a swimming pool, tennis courts, volleyball courts, a roller hockey arena, basketball courts, a playground, a fitness room, and an activity room…just for starters.

Memorable Holes
Number 3: Par 4, 430 yards. According to Jed Azinger, this hole is one of the top five holes he’s ever worked on. The hole plays back toward the clubhouse, providing golfers with a beautiful view. If the scenery doesn’t mesmerize you, the hole certainly will. Anything left off the tee that carries the water probably spells trouble – that is if you can find it. From the left side you’ll be left with an approach shot around a large, 100 year old grandfather oak. A good drive down the right center of the fairway will still leave a long approach shot to a relatively long, narrow green with gentle undulations. Take your par and run!

Number 7: Par 5, 558 yards. Number 7 is the signature hole for Heritage Isles and it will test your mettle on every shot, especially off the tee. Your tee shot is a long carry over protected wetlands. The only chance you have to get home in two on this hole is to hit your tee shot down the right side. From there you will need to hit a booming approach shot over the palmettos and brush and carry the dogleg left. For those of you who plan to get on in regulation, you’ll have to avoid the protected wetlands along both sides, (sorry, no ball hawking). This is definitely a risk-reward hole.

Number 9: Par 4, 334 yards. Number 9 is another risk/reward hole. At a mere 334 yards from the back tees, this hole screams “grip it and rip it.” That’s all well and good; however there are a few things to think about before you make that decision. Hit the ball too far right off the tee and you risk going into one of the large bunkers or worse yet, into the reedy marshes. Try and play it up the left and you’re flirting with the water that runs most of the way up the left side. Anything off the tee that leaves you a second shot without incurring a penalty shot is a good tee shot. In all likelihood you will have a relatively short approach shot to a narrow green that slopes back to front. Par or better here is a great way to kick start the back nine.

Number 16: Par 3, 249 yards. Off the tee, you’re staring at wetlands to the right and water on your left. A large, deep bunker on the right side of the green awaits errant tee shots. For shorter hitters, there is room in front of the green to layup and try to chip it in for birdie.

Number 18: Par 4, 399 yards. Number 18 is sharp dogleg right with wetlands on the left side and a lake on the right. It is possible to drive it over the lake, at least from the blue tees but you need to ask yourself, “why?” This is another fairway that offers the chance to try to cut the dogleg. You can hit across the lake to a small landing area. Or you can lay up on the left-hand side of the fairway and use a middle iron to get to the green. Safe is probably the better choice here; hit something sensible (i.e. not driver) off the tee and leave a relatively short pitch to the green. A good chipping game can lead to a good score on this hole.
After your round be sure to visit the ever popular restaurant and bar Kennedy’s, and have a drink or something to eat while you discuss your strategy for the next time you visit Heritage Isles.

Last Word
Beautifully carved from Florida’s rich landscape, Heritage Isles is everything Florida golf was meant to be. You will discover that this championship design proves to be a true test for the even the most advanced golfer. The most important choice you will make on this course is what tees to play. Choose the gold tees at almost 7,000 yards and you may be biting off a lot more than you can chew; move up to the blue tees and you’re shaving off almost 750 yards. Most non-masochistic golfers will probably want to play from the blues and enjoy themselves.
No matter what tees you play from, a good drive will be rewarded. Most holes offer generous landing areas, however, should you miss the landing area, bug spray and a machete wouldn’t be a bad idea! This philosophy is true on the majority of holes with the exception of number 3 where no shot is easy – I’m surprised it’s not the number one handicap. Water comes into play here on almost every hole so manage your shots well and you’ll score low. Heritage Isles places a premium on the short game. A good short game will play an important role in putting up low numbers at Heritage Isles.
To sum it up, all you need to do is control your drives off the tee, hit crisp approach shots to the green, plan out your short game before each shot and putt well. Do all that and you will be successful at Heritage Isles. Heck, do all that and I’ll be your caddie! For more information on Heritage Isles, you can visit them online at or give them a call at (813) 907-7447.

David Theoret
David Theoret has been in the golf and golf travel industry for over 12 years, primarily selling online advertising. For the past seven years, he has also been a golf writer, reviewing golf courses, resorts, destinations, equipment, golf apparel, and training aids – the latter of which never seems to help. What started as a dream years ago, by God’s grace, became a reality in 2015 when The Golfin’ Guy editorial marketing company was founded. Working together with golf course designer Ron Garl; David’s articles and reviews have been posted on many golf travel, equipment, and apparel websites.

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