Review: Grand Cypress Resort, FL
The solid layouts by Jack Nicklaus make this a must play in Orlando and the pristine conditions will bring you back to play it again.
For more information: www.grandcypress.com
There seems to be a common request among American golfers. Where can I play a links course? While many of the best are on the other side of the world, the US has a few true links courses in the middle of the country and on the east and west coast. While the New Course at Grand Cypress might not be “true” links, it certainly is a fun links-like experience.
After winding around the driving range, I arrived at the New Course. There is a nice putting green right near the first tee and upon reaching the starter; I got paired up with a group of really nice guys from Miami, FL (also in town for the PGA show). The course is very different than a typical FL course or even a typical course in the US. Fairways 1 and 18 are one giant driving range in front of the golfer. There is some OB right on the first hole, but left is wide open. While it is not a long first hole, the second shot is the test. There is a canal that winds through holes 1, 18, 8, and 10. It guards the front of this green so approaches can’t come up short, but long there is plenty of room. Hole 2 is a shorter par 5, but it is intimidating off the back tees. There are some various scrub bushes that are growing in front of the fairway, making it difficult to see the intended line. The only real danger is again to the right, with a giant pond that is connected to the canal. But with a decent drive the green is easily reachable in two, just make sure you get there or lay way up. There is a cavernous bunker collecting those that come up short. But even over the bunker is another valley that will catch other short shots. The third hole is a solid par three. Again right is trouble on this hole too, but the green is huge with lots of room left. Hole 4 now makes a turn and comes back into the middle of the course. Another huge fairway, with a dogleg left. This corner is guarded by tiny pot bunks, which are necessary to avoid. This green again is huge and connected to another green. By this point in the round, I noticed the large number of double greens and the difference of pins. Yellow pins for the front 9 and white pins for the back 9. This will be useful knowledge as the round continues on. Hole 5 is another massive driving range. But like always down the middle is the best. It is a shorter par 4 that has another double green. Hole 6 is a long par 5 that also has a double green. It just so happened that my golfing friends forgot that we were playing to the yellow pins, and hit at the wrong green ending up by the white pins. They would have had great shots, if they weren’t aiming at the wrong pin. Hole 7 is a nice mid length par 3 that has a slightly elevated tee to a slightly elevated green. This green, along with the other greens, have significant undulation yet the speeds of the green allowed for manageable putting. The 8th hole is long par 4 with a tricky green again guarded by that canal. This dogleg right has a little more room left than the right side of the fairway and up by the green. The 9th hole takes you back near the 1st tee so that if necessary you could just play 9 holes. It isn’t the longest hole, but again the bunkering and undulated green make second shot accuracy important.
Turning at 10, which is right next to 18 and 9, you just bomb back down another wide fairway, which makes it even more frustrating when you miss one with your drive. But again this green is guarded by that canal. This green is smaller, even though it is connected to the 8th green. Hole 11 now weaves you into the middle of the course. The nines are set up as an outside front 9 and an inside back 9. Hole 11 is a long dogleg left. It has some tilt to the fairway as it goes around the corner. The par 3 12th hole was a brute the day we were playing. It was dead into the wind and the sun, yardage was 208 that day playing closer to 238. While everyone tried their best, no one reached the green. I was close, just off the left side, but it was a tough par. Hole 13 is another long par 4 with a huge wide fairway again paralleling with hole 5 and 6. The green was really nasty on this one. Where the pin was it looked like there was green to the left of the pin, but there wasn’t. It was near the left edge already. If the pin would have been on the right side of the green, it really makes for a tough approach. The 14th hole is short but the risk reward with this one is the bunkering. Thankfully I striped one perfectly between the bunkers with my driver. I think I would probably hit 3-wood next time to stay short of those fairway pot bunkers. The 15th is a signature hole with the rubble like brick wall running down the right side of the fairway separating it from the water. This is a huge double fairway with so much room to the left again. This hole played long again and second shot placement is critical with all the bunkers guarding the lay-up areas. This green is huge which again makes the 3rd shot placement important. The 16th hole is a solid par 3 with an elevated green. The 17th hole is a short par 5 that is easily reachable in 2. Long is the only real danger on this hole and a few more pot bunkers. The 18th hole is very similar to the Old Course, (or so the pictures say). It is wide again off the tee and the green is tipped slightly from right to left. There is a white fence around the right and backside of this hole, framing it in nicely.
The New Course has Bermuda grass everywhere and there is no rough to deal with. While it didn’t play super fast and hard the day I played because of the 2” of rain the night before, it seemed like it could. It was still fun, different and just an overall solid track. I did happen to notice that they are adding some back tees to lengthen the course a bit, which in my opinion is a good thing, not for everyone, but there were a number of holes that could use a little length to strengthen up the course. Jack Nicklaus sculpted a Florida course to resemble the feeling of the Old Course and thus the New Course at Grand Cypress.
There are certain things that come to mind when you talk Florida golf; water, white sand, cypress trees, lush green fairways/greens and palm trees. The North/South Course by Jack Nicklaus’s at Grand Cypress has all of that. The North course starts just a staircase away from the pro shop. After playing the New Course, you quickly learn that this is not the same wide-open style golf. More precision is needed off the tee and it generally plays more parkland style golf.
This is not a bad thing, since most US golfers are used to this. It is done very well too. The first par 4 is a good opening hole, that isn’t too tough since it is on the shorter side. The green is accessible and somewhat forgiving as it is tucked to the right of the fairway. Heading to hole 2 can be a bit dangerous since the cart path runs parallel to the 2nd fairway and is close to the teeing area. Watch out for a pull off tee two. The second hole is a shorter par 5; it is reachable in two with a good drive. Just don’t pull the second shot into the water. The third hole has water running down the left. Between the fairway and the water is a long bunker running parallel with the fairway. The water also cuts into the front left corner of this green so coming up short and left is gone. The 4th hole is a simple mid-length par 3. The 5th hole is long par 4 that is just straight and long. The comeback 6th hole is a long par 5. The bunkering and mounding and broken fairway make this the hardest hole on the North course according to the scorecard, I might argue that 9 is harder. The 7th hole is another solid/difficult hole. It is a long right dogleg around a pond. The green is just perched out near the water. This sweeping hole is tricky to navigate both the drive and the approach. The 8th is a simple longer par 3. The slightly elevated green is guarded by some bunkering long and short, but is big enough to accept the long-range tee shots. The 9th hole of the North course plays parallel to the 9th hole of the South course, just on the right side of the pond. This long finish hole is tough with water all down the left side. The green is then shifted left of the fairway allowing the water to come into play again. I was able to get out early and fly around the North Course.
Upon making the turn onto the South Course I got paired up with some really nice guys from all over the country, which kind of slowed the pace down a little. This 9 starts off with another forgiving shorter par 4. The green is slightly elevated knocking short shots down into some bunkering. The second hole is a solid par 5. It is both long and tough as it has a pond that you must carry off the tee box. Then there is some swampland that runs along the right side of the fairway and a stream separates the fairway from the green so it is almost a must 3 shot hole. After crossing the bridge to the next 4 holes, you come upon a great par 3. While it is not long, it can be intimidating with the water in front and along the right side. The 4th hole is a long par 4 that really demands two long shots to reach the green. The driving on this hole feels narrow with some trees lining the fairway. The 5th hole is a short par 4 that demands accuracy off the tee. It is probably best to hit hybrid or 3-wood to keep it straight and in the fairway. The 6th hole is the hardest hole on the South course. It is a long par 5. The drive is not too tough, but from then on in, it is a brute. The second shot needs to be precise because of the water on the left side. The green is severely elevated and small. Long is about the only bail out. Anything short, right or left rolls down the hill. After crossing back over the bridge, the 7th hole is a little easier. Still good length, but much wider and simpler. The 8th hole is a solid par 3. It isn’t too long, but distance control is a plus. Long is in a bunker, short it rolls down the elevated green and right or left will most likely find a bunker. And then the brute of a finisher, the 9th hole is long. This time that pond is on the right side. It demands length and then accuracy on the second shot since there is water to the right of the green again as this hole bends around the water. You finish right out in front of the restaurant/clubhouse.