Listen for the sound. The sound tells the story.
Thump. That's what the golfer wants to hear. A nice, dull thud. That means the ball is safe; it's on dry ground in search of par.
Crshhp. That's no good. That's a toll call from good. That means the ball is off playing hide-and-seek with the fox squirrels and woodpeckers underneath the brush in the woods.
Plunk. That sound is worse. Every golfer knows that sound. The ball has gone for a swim and the golfer is reaching for a another ball while adding a new sound: a PG word uttered only because he doesn't want to have the old ladies in the gallery fainting from the NC-17 word he would rather use.
Welcome to the 16th hole on the Copperhead course at Innisbrook, a hole so notorious its photograph should be on a post office wall.
It might be the best golf hole at Innisbrook, perhaps anywhere on the Florida Suncoast, but it's less a hole than a real-life action adventure movie. If this hole had its own club pro, it might be James Bond. And, come to think of it, 007 is a score that has been shot this week on this creature.
It's narrow. From the tee box, the fairway looks like a bowling lane. Danger lurks on both sides. Water, lots of it, on the right. Trees, lots of them, on the left. Deep bunkers, two of them, protect the green. There's a tricky little dogleg right. And it's long, 475 yards. Finally, the dagger: It's a par 4!
How scary is this hole? Fred Couples once had to wait while an alligator finished sunning himself just a couple of feet from his ball. A few players probably wished an alligator had swallowed their ball _ or maybe them _ on Friday. Like Marco Dawson. See, there are two things you don't want to do on this hole: hit it too far right into the water or too far left into the woods. Poor Marco, he managed to do both.
He drove into the squirrels. Chipped out all of 90 feet _ not yards, feet. Next chip went into the water. Drop. Approach. Two-putt. Seven. Thanks for coming.
"I've had a good tournament except for 16," Kenny Perry said. "(No.) 16 is killing me."
If Perry had shot par at 16 on Thursday and Friday, he would be three shots off the lead. Instead, he is seven back. He shot triple-bogey 7 on Thursday. On Friday, he was cruising at 4 under for the day, when No. 16 stuck out its foot and tripped him.
He bogeyed 16 before the hole then crept into his head as he bogeyed the tough par-3 17. Perry wonders if the darn hole is haunted.
"On Thursday, I just cold-shanked an 8-iron and hit it in some dead area," Perry said. "I never do that."
The key is the drive. Then again, the second shot is no picnic. The approach can be hairy and the hole placement Friday (27 yards into the green and 5 yards off the right fringe) made the flag almost impossible to see on the approach. Come to think of it, the greens are slick and sloped.
Heck, maybe this thing is haunted. It's so scary you half expect Linda Blair to be tending the pin.
Phil Mickelson was so spooked by driving into the water on Thursday and taking double bogey, he practically tiptoed through 16 on Friday. Virtually every player hits driver off the tee, and that's what Mickelson hit Thursday. But Friday, he whipped out an iron and hit it a mere 253 yards just so he wouldn't have to get out his scuba gear or go on a camping trip in the woods. He survived with par, but only after he knocked his 44-yard third shot 2 feet from the pin.
Every shot on this hole is a bear, right from the start.
"That's always been a really good hard tee shot," John Huston said.
A lot of players have hit really bad hard tee shots. Nine hit into the water Thursday. Five drives took a dip on Friday, and that doesn't count Cliff Kresge who hit his second shot into the water after his drive went into rough thick enough to hide small children.
Hitting the other way, into the woods, causes problems, too. Fulton Allem's drive landed so far in the woods that he asked his caddie for something special: a cigarette. (No word on whether Allem is a smoker or whether the hole drove him to start.)
Kresge's threesome epitomized the hole on Friday. After taking a minute to address the ball, Kresge hit his drive to the edge of the diving board, stopping just short of the water. (The ball jumped in on his second shot.) Duffy Waldorf took his good, sweet time, then hit the ball into the woods. Carlos Franco hurriedly put the ball on the tee, cranked up his swing and hit it dead-center perfect.
Maybe there is no way to play this hole. If they could get away with it, players wouldn't mind sneaking off the 15th green and going straight to 17.
No hole played tougher in Thursday's first round. Only one _ the sixth _ played tougher on Friday. In two days, the hole permitted just 22 birdies in 262 attempts. Maybe instead of listing the yardage, the sign on the 16th tee should have a warning label.
"It's some kind of hole," Perry said.
It sure sounds like it.
THE HAUNTED HOLE
How tough is the 475-yard, par-4 16th hole at the Copperhead Course? Check out the grisly numbers from the first two days of the Chrysler Championship. (A reminder: These are professionals playing this course. Do not try this at home.)
Birdies 15 8
Pars 65 66
Bogeys 43 51
Double bogeys 8 4
Triple bogeys 1 1
_ Compiled by Tom Jones