Valspar Championship canceled, golfers play on tournament-condition greens for half-price at Innisbrook

"Can you beat today?" Innisbrook Golfer John Lelekis asked after teeing off. "Can't beat today."

Those were the words expected to be used this weekend at the famed Coppherhead course as the Valspar Championship was scheduled to be played. "Was" is the operative word. 

The PGA Tour tournament was one of the countless sporting events canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

"It is so difficult to comprehend," Innisbrook managing director Mike Williams said. "As we drive around Copperhead today, and we see the stands, the bleachers, and all of the amenities being dismantled, it's heartbreaking."

With the course in tournament condition, but with no tournament, Williams and his colleges decided to put the famed course to good use.

"We thought what a better opportunity to allow vacationers and golfers to come out and experience a PGA course," Williams said.

For almost half the price it costs to play, Golfers can play a round at Copperhead in tournament condition, another round at one of the other three Innisbrook courses.

"They said we have this other thing during the week," golfer John Fiore said, midway through is round. "We jumped all over that."

The discount package allows people the opportunity to play in a pro-environment.

"We usually play about six weeks after the tournament," Fiore said. "Playing it this week is a night and day difference."

Playing like the pros is quite a different story. "Our scores will go up, exponentially," Lelekis said of the challenging course.

"The rough is kind of tough today," Lelekis' golf partner Nick Tstaros said. "We can't wait until they cut it."

Charity is another reason Innisbrook is offering the discount package. Money generated from the Valspar Championship is donated to various Tampa Bay charities.

"We want to make sure we're giving back to the community," Williams said. "I think last year we donated $2.2 million dollars to a variety of charitable organizations."

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