Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Innisbrook designer Larry Packard dies

Larry Packard designed Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club's four championship golf courses, including the North Course, the South Course, the Island Course and the Copperhead Course.


Larry Packard designed Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club's four championship golf courses, including the North Course, the South Course, the Island Course and the Copperhead Course.

PALM HARBOR — Larry Packard, who designed more than 600 golf courses including all four at the Innisbrook Resort and Spa, died Thursday at age 101. On Monday, during a luncheon to promote this year's Valspar Championship PGA event at a restaurant that bears his name, Mr. Packard was remembered fondly.

"I honestly feel Larry Packard is and was Innisbrook,'' said Sheila Johnson, owner of Salamander Hotels and Resorts, which runs Innisbrook. "His signature golf course, the Copperhead, is here at Innisbrook. But he had a tremendous influence on all the courses here. I have never met a kinder, smarter, more genteel man in all my life.''

Mr. Packard was born Nov. 15, 1912 in Northampton, Mass. He served in World War II then began his course design career. He was best known for a "double dog leg'' hole design, which is used on the Island and Copperhead courses at Innisbrook.

"He always had some interesting takes on things,'' said former PGA professional and NBC golf analyst Gary Koch. "Every architect wants to come up with some signature feature. To me, his designs were simple yet effective.''

In 1970, Mr. Packard became president of the American Society of Golf Course Architects. Innisbrook opened that year and he was asked to design the Island Course. That was followed by the North and South courses as well as Copperhead.

Mr. Packard decided to live at Innisbrook in 1970 and stayed there until his death.

"To live to 101 years old, you didn't get cheated out of anything in life,'' said Rodney Green, director of golf at Innisbrook. "For me, I was really glad to have an opportunity to meet Larry and talk about his philosophy when he built these courses.

"He said to me he designed golf courses that needed to be the ultimate test of fair. He wanted to build courses where you have to use every club in your bag. When you play out here, you find that's exactly what you have to do.''

Up until his death, Packard was a regular at the PGA event, which is held in mid-March. He would usually spend one of the tournament days watching from a box on the 18th green.

"You could still see in his aging face the enthusiasm he had sitting on the 18th hole and watching the players struggle,'' Johnson said.

"He's like 'I did that. I really got that right.' He was an extraordinary man. He is our renaissance man around here. He is really going to be missed.''

No more LPGA Legends, but LPGA?: Johnson said the LPGA Legends Tour will not be played on Innisbrook's Island Course in November. The Tour played its season-ending tournament on the course for the past five years, but Johnson said details could not be worked out for a return.

"We just couldn't get a sponsor,'' Johnson said. "It's so hard to get a sponsor for women's sports. I own a WNBA team (Washington Mystics). I know how hard it is.''

Johnson said she has not given up hope trying to lure the LPGA to Innisbrook.

"I would love to have the LPGA come here,'' Johnson said. "The reason they aren't here now is because when I talked to them a few years ago they wanted to play on the Copperhead Course. That's the PGA course. It's against the rules. But they could play on the Island Course. They didn't want to do that. Maybe with a new commissioner, I'll make another run at them.''

MisC.: The Valspar Championship, which is the week of March 10-16, needs volunteers. Contact Doug Lassiter at (727) 942-5566. … The tournament has increased its purse to $5.7 million, with $1,026,000 for the winner. Last year's winner, Kevin Streelman, earned $990,000.

Innisbrook designer Larry Packard dies 02/03/14 [Last modified: Monday, February 3, 2014 9:45pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Sign up for our daily News at Noon email newsletter


    The Tampa Bay Times will soon launch a daily newsletter called News at Noon. You can make sure to be among the first to receive it by signing up now.

  2. For starters: Rays at Pirates, with Hechavarria active, Robertson sent down


    UPDATE, 3:26: And the Rays indeed have Hechavarria at SS and Beckham at 2B. Also, with no DH Dickerson is in left.

    Rays lineup:
    Smith cf,
    Dickerson lf,
    Longoria 3b,
    Morrison 1b,
    Souza rf,
    Ramos c,
    Beckham 2b,
    Hechavarria ss,
    Cobb p

    And the …

    The stellar view from the press box at PNC Park.
  3. Cal Foote was picked 14th overall by the Lightning in the NHL Draft.
  4. Jones: Serena Williams, and all women, deserved better from John McEnroe


    John McEnroe might be the best sports analyst in broadcasting.

    Serena Williams makes a backhand return to her sister Venus during the women's singles final at the Australian Open tennis championships in January in  Melbourne, Australia. [AP photo]
  5. Joe Maddon: What my time in Tampa Bay meant, and still means, to me

    The Heater

    Editor's note: The Rays next week in Chicago will meet up for the first time with former manager Joe Maddon, who is in his third year leading the Cubs after nine with the Rays. In advance of the Tuesday-Wednesday series, we asked Maddon to share his thoughts in a column on what his time in Tampa Bay meant to …

    Joe Maddon waits to greet B.J. Upton after Upton's home run in Game 2 of the ALCS in 2008 at Tropicana Field. [Times files (2008)]