(September 2009) The Links of Lake Bernadette is a semi-private golf club just north of Tampa, in Zephyrhills, FL. The course, which was designed by Dean Refram and built in 1983, plays 6,484 yards from the longest tees for a par of 71. The course rating is 71.8 and it has a slope rating of 126 on Bermuda grass.
The Links of Lake Bernadette is a well landscaped and mature course with rolling fairways and towering pines; it combines water, sand and pampas grass to create one of Tampa Bay’s most recognizable golf challenges. Wide fairways, not too difficult approach shots and large greens await golfers looking to shoot low scores. Don’t let the fact that it plays less than 6500 yards from the back tees lull you into a false sense of security. Six of the par 4 holes play over 400 yards; of these, two are 450 yards and one is 440 yards. A couple of the par 3 holes are 200 yards or more.
Once upon a time, Golf Digest rated the 13th hole, a 163-yard par 3 as the “Best Par 3” in Tampa Bay. The Links of Lake Bernadette was also rated 3 stars as an “Excellent Value”. Four sets of tees makes the Links of Lake Bernadette perfect for players of all ages and skill levels.
Number 2: Par 4, 403 yards. By no means is this the longest par 4 on the course; yet still a good test of accuracy and shot making. The preferred shot off the tee is a draw to a wide open landing area. From there you will have a mid-iron into a green that is guarded on the right by two sand bunkers.
Number 4: Par 5, 490 yards. Although “Temptation” is the shortest par 5 on the course, it will still put you to the test. Off the tee you are faced with a small gathering of brush in the middle of the fairway. If you have good control of your driver then this is not a big problem; the rest of us will have to rely on luck. If you make it over or around the shrubbery, you are then faced with the “temptation” to go for the green in two. This is true risk/reward as there is a large pond on the left side as well as bunkers on the right and behind the green. The green slopes ever so slightly toward the water; birdie is a definite possibility.
Number 5: Par 4, 450 yards. There’s not a whole lot of trouble off the tee on this, the first of the “monster” par 4s. The hole is fairly straight forward, wide open and windy; hence the name “Windswept.” Depending on the direction of the wind, this hole can play a lot longer than its 450 advertised yards. Woods on the right off the tee should not come into play. Even a good drive will still leave a long second shot to a large, elevated green. Sand in the front right almost forces you to carry the green. Par on any of these long par 4s is a good score.
Number 10: Par 4, 310 yards. Hit a three wood or hybrid on this short par 4. The key is placement; somewhere between the woods on the right and the fairway bunker on the left side is perfect. From there, you will need to hit a short pitch shot over a creek to a small, slightly elevated green. This hole offers another birdie opportunity.
Number 12: Par 5, 595 yards. Be careful off the tee on this dogleg right par 5; that group of brush and palmetto bushes you see off to the left IS reachable! If you can hit a fade, this is the perfect spot for it although don’t cut it to much or you can say good bye to that Pro V1. The water on the left of the tee box should not come into play, provided you can carry the ball 75 yards. A long tee shot that moves left to right can set you up to go for the green in two. There is no sand on this hole, however there is water all down the right side. Your approach shot is to a large elevated green. Here is yet another birdie opportunity.
Number 14: par 4, 440 yards. With water everywhere, this hole is aptly dubbed “Waterloo.” It’s another long par 4 with water all down the right side. Play your tee shot out to the right in order to maximize your angle to the green. Be careful on your approach shot as the water comes out in front of the green. For most, it will be a long iron or hybrid to the green that will need to carry the water. The green is flanked by a lone bunker on the right side.
Last Word: There is no reason to arrive early at the Links; there is no driving range. To me, this is a major downfall; I can think of no other sport that I have ever played where I didn’t warm up first. That being said, there is a practice green to practice the most important part of the game; chipping and putting. For as old as the course is, it is in tremendous shape. Like most courses it takes a couple of rounds to figure things out; corners you can cut so to speak. I enjoyed my round at Lake Bernadette; looking at the scorecard you get the idea that you can bring the course to its knees; not the case. Six par 4s top 400 yards. If you’re going to play, bring your “A” game.
To book a tee time at the Links of Lake Bernadette or to get more information on the course, you can visit them online at www.linksoflakebernadette.com or give them a call at 813 788-7888.