Accuracy is everything at Pebble Creek Golf Club in Tampa
TAMPA, Fla. -- Pebble Creek Golf Club isn't going to stun you with fabulous scenery or memorable holes. You can play all 18 holes without remembering much except that, damn, those greens were tough to hit.
Pebble Creek -- located in New Tampa (a community located within the city of Tampa) about 20 minutes from the Tampa International Airport -- won't bring back those never-to-forget memories, but it's got teeth that will bite, and that doesn't include the alligators that roam the ponds around the course.
With wide-open fairways and not a lot of bunkers, Pebble Creek looks tame on the scorecard. It's a par 71 that plays to 6,436 yards from the tips, but Pebble Creek isn't as tame is it looks. The greens are some of the smallest in all of Tampa Bay, and the rough is some of the roughest.
If you bring your short game, it isn't tough to go low. The greens are tame, just small.
"A blind person can two-putt these greens," said Head Professional Stacy Keisler. "That's what makes this course tough. Get on the green, and you can easily two-putt. Miss the green, and you are dealing with rough that is longer than almost any place you will find. Work on your short game before you come out."
Pebble Creek Golf Club: Tough but fair
Pebble Creek G.C., which was recently aerified, is a tough but fair course, located in a part of Tampa that is exploding with newcomers that make traffic a monster. Plan your tee time for late morning to avoid rush hour or you will be spending much of your time staring at convenience stores and Waffle Houses on the way as traffic moves at a snail's pace.
Once you get to Pebble Creek, things get a lot better. Located in a gated community, the course meanders through a community of well-kept homes that never come into play. The course is kept in excellent shape despite being one of the most highly played in New Tampa.
"This course is in the best shape it has ever been," Keisler said. "You can go low here if you hit the greens. You don't have to hit it far. Your approach shot means everything. Get it on the green, and everything is easy from there."
That's the sticking point to Pebble Creek. The rough, while it isn't up to U.S. Open standards, is high, and there's just enough water around the greens that a delicate short game is imperative. The greens are relatively flat, but the weekend golfer shouldn't worry about getting close. Getting onto the green is reward enough.
Pebble Creek is pretty tame until the fifth hole, a 380-yard par 4 with a narrow fairway and water to the left. There's a lot of water at Pebble Creek that doesn't come into play, but it's easy to get soaked on No. 5. The seventh is a 504-yard par 5 that is the only par 5 on the front side. It's a dogleg right with water all the way down the left. It's reachable in two but is protected by bunkers up front, so laying up is the best plan.
It's easier to go low on the back. There's more water, but the fairways are wider, and it's easier to fire away from the tees. The 13th is tough, a 509-yard par 5 that requires a straight drive, and No. 14 is a bender around water. It goes only 346 yards, but even the longest hitters shouldn't think about going for it.
Pebble Creek offers private and group golf instructions at its driving range and also hosts a summer camp for kids aged 7-15.
Pebble Creek Golf Club: The verdict
Pebble Creek Golf Club is highly popular in New Tampa and gets a lot of play. There are plenty of loyal golfers who make this moderately priced track a regular destination.
"We play here a lot because it is always in good shape, and they take good care of you," said New Tampa resident Joe Moyer. "We've never had a bad round out here. They treat you the right way, and they don't try to crush you out here."
Moyer's wife, Janet, said, "It's just a fun day. If you come from out of town, come on up here. If you play it in the afternoon, you don't have people breathing down your back; you can just relax and have fun. We play here all the time, and we have golf courses all over Tampa, but this is our favorite."
If you are looking for scenery, this might not be the place, but the golf is challenging, and you can go low with an accurate short game.
Don't take the 6,436 yards for granted because, even though driver/nine iron can get you close, the greens are small enough that accuracy, not yardage, is vital.