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Business powerhouse updates Innisbrook Golf Resort

Owner Sheila Johnson is upgrading Innisbrook Resort’s reputation.

JIM DAMASKE | Times

Owner Sheila Johnson is upgrading Innisbrook Resort’s reputation.

PALM HARBOR — When Sheila C. Johnson purchased Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club more than a year ago, she promised to make the resort a destination for golfers all over the world. Golf courses have been upgraded, club houses expanded and a high-end atmosphere pervades the place.

This week, as Super Bowl XLIII rolled into Tampa, Johnson and the folks at Innisbrook are taking the opportunity to show the world what it has to offer.

Friday, there was the Franco Harris/Lydell Mitchell Grid Iron Golf Tournament. Today, NFL Charities will host a tournament that will also bring NFL greats and celebrities.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and TV personality Al Roker are to spend time at the resort during the weekend.

"I'm proud of everything we are doing," Johnson said, as she sat in a renovated clubhouse that opens up to a golf course. "I'm a visionary. Because I'm doing this now, we are going to be positioned in the future."

Johnson, a billionaire and co-founder of BET, purchased the 900-acre resort in July 2007.

The $25 million renovation project is near complete and Johnson has worked to become a part of the Tampa Bay community. She speaks at area lunches and other functions. The 2008 WNBA Draft was held at Innisbrook and was aired by ESPN. A pre-draft camp was held at the University of Tampa.

Johnson is also working to bring Tiger Woods to the resort. She is now a member of his company's board.

"Eventually, prayerfully, yes," she answered when asked if Woods might sometime play in the PGA event at Innisbrook. "You have to cultivate the relationship."

Johnson said she is "beyond pleased" at how things are going. She said she has one goal at Innisbrook.

"It is to make a mark on the golf resort community," she said. "And to have the best golf resort not only in the country but the world."

Demorris A. Lee can be reached at 445-4174 or dalee@sptimes.com

Business powerhouse updates Innisbrook Golf Resort 01/30/09 [Last modified: Friday, January 30, 2009 10:05pm]
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