GRAND CYPRESS RESORT
North/South Course Architect: Jack Nicklaus (1984, renovation 2008)
Year Opened: February, 1984
Location: Orlando, Florida
Slope: 142. Rating: 75.9
Hole-by-Hole: 1 - Par 4 363 Yds 10 - Par 4 385 Yds
2 - Par 5 510 Yds 11 - Par 5 590 Yds
3 - Par 4 404 Yds 12 - Par 3 158 Yds
4 - Par 3 186 Yds 13 - Par 4 460 Yds
5 - Par 4 451 Yds 14 - Par 4 347 Yds
6 - Par 5 612 Yds 15 - Par 5 595 Yds
7 - Par 4 423 Yds 16 - Par 4 432 Yds
8 - Par 3 205 Yds 17 - Par 3 183 Yds
9 - Par 4 468 Yds 18 - Par 4 475 Yds
Par 36 3,622 Yds Par 36 3,625 Yds
Key Events Held: LPGA Tour Championship (2010),
YourLife Vitamins LPGA Classic (2001),
LPGA HealthSouth Inaugural (1998-99),
Chrysler-Plymouth Tournament of Champions (1994-96),
Skills Challenge (1992-93),
World Cup of Golf (1990),
Shark Shoot-Out (1986-90).
Awards Won: Silver Medal Resort by GOLF Magazine (2006, 2008, 2010),
Rated 4 1/2 stars by Golf Digest - Best Places to Play (2006-10),
Top 50 Resort - Readers Choice from Golf World (2010),
20 Best Florida Golf Resorts by Links Magazine (2008, 2010),
Top 75 Golf Resorts from Golf Digest (2002, 2007, 2009),
World's Best Golf Resorts by Travel + Leisure Golf readers (2007),
Course of the Year by Florida Golf Course Owners Assoc. (2003),
50 Best Golf Courses for Women by Golf for Women (2002-07),
Top 100 Golf Resorts by Conde Nast Traveler readers (2001-06),
Gold Medal Resort by GOLF Magazine (1988-2004),
Top 100 Resorts by Links Magazine (1998).
New Course Architect: Jack Nicklaus (1988)
Year Opened: January, 1988
Location: Orlando, Florida
Slope: 121. Rating: 71.9
Hole-by-Hole: 1 - Par 4 362 Yds 10 - Par 4 330 Yds
2 - Par 5 514 Yds 11 - Par 4 430 Yds
3 - Par 3 179 Yds 12 - Par 3 207 Yds
4 - Par 4 440 Yds 13 - Par 4 431 Yds
5 - Par 4 393 Yds 14 - Par 4 371 Yds
6 - Par 5 496 Yds 15 - Par 5 570 Yds
7 - Par 3 182 Yds 16 - Par 3 190 Yds
8 - Par 4 440 Yds 17 - Par 5 485 Yds
9 - Par 4 382 Yds 18 - Par 4 371 Yds
Par 36 3,388 Yds Par 36 3,385 Yds
Awards Won: Rated 4 1/2 stars by Golf Digest - Best Places to Play (2006-10),
Top-25 Resort Golf Shop by Golf World (2008-09),
Top-25 Golf Schools in America (1999-2010).
Web site: www.grandcypress.com
HISTORY: Crafted by legendary player and course architect Jack Nicklaus, the
original course at Grand Cypress Resort, the North-South layout, opened for
play in 1984.
Nicklaus has designed hundreds of courses around the world, including
Muirfield Village, Harbour Town and Sebonack, all ranked in the top-100 of
greatest American courses. His work at Grand Cypress was just his third foray
into the state of Florida, however.
Just two years after opening, the first installment of the Shark Shootout was
held at Grand Cypress. It featured an impressive foursome of Nicklaus, Greg
Norman, Arnold Palmer and Ray Floyd and helped to raise money for what is now
called the Arnold Palmer Medical Center in Orlando. In just five years, the
event raised over $1 million for the hospital.
Nicklaus returned in 1986 to add the East Nine to the stable of holes and then
just two years later, the New Course, the Golden Bear's homage to the Old
Course at St. Andrews, made its debut.
It didn't take long for the accolades to roll in, as GOLF Magazine named Grand
Cypress a Gold Medal Resort in 1988. The awards continue to pour in, as the
resort continues to hold a 4 1/2 star rating by Golf Digest.
Grand Cypress has hosted many professional events over the years. The
first tournament of major importance to visit the resort was the World Cup of
Golf back in 1990. The German duo of Bernhard Langer and Torsten Giedeon
teamed up to defeat teams from England and Ireland by three shots. American
Payne Stewart won the individual title.
The LPGA Tour made its first stop at Grand Cypress in 1994, as Dottie Pepper
(then Mochrie) fired a final round 69 to catch third-round leader Nancy
Lopez and win by two shots over Laurie Merten and Lopez.
In 1995, Dawn Coe-Jones carded weekend rounds of 68-69 to cruise to a six-shot
victory over Beth Daniel. The two players were the only competitors in the
field to shoot under par for the week.
Sweden's Liselotte Neumann lapped the field in 1996, as she opened with rounds
of 67-66 for a nine-shot lead and finished with a tournament-record total of
275 to win by a whopping 11 shots over Karrie Webb.
Kelly Robbins captured back-to-back LPGA tournaments at Grand Cypress in 1998
and 1999. After an opening round of 76, Robbins carded rounds of 67-66 to slip
past Meg Mallon by two shots in '98 and then one year later, she shot a
course-record 64 in the final round to edge Webb and Tina Barrett by a stroke.
The women returned to Grand Cypress in 2001, as Se Ri Pak posted a four-shot
win over Penny Hammel and Carin Koch. Pak rallied from a two-shot deficit in
the final round to shoot a course-record-tying 64, as she posted one of five
wins that year.
In 2008, Nicklaus once again returned to the resort to add some length and to
renovate his existing design in an effort to restore the original integrity of
It certainly was worth the visit, as the LPGA has once again tabbed Grand
Cypress Resort as a tournament destination, as the 2010 Tour Championship will
be held at the venerable layout. "We were committed to finding a premier golf
course that would challenge the players and attract fans and media, commented
LPGA commissioner Mike Whan. "We're thrilled to be back playing in Florida.
Our sincere thanks go out to Grand Cypress for their commitment, passion and
REVIEW: NORTH/SOUTH COURSE - The opening hole on the North Course is probably
the simplest of the bunch. A straightaway par four of just 363 yards from the
tips with a generous fairway. Avoid the trio of traps down the right and
you're home free, as just a short iron will remain after a successful tee
ball. The tricky part is the putting surface which is just 24 paces in depth
and runs from back to front. A bunker short and one deep certainly get plenty
of action with a back-right flag.
Next up is the first par five on the course, a reachable 510-yarder from the
gold markers. Play down the right side to avoid the sand left and you might
have a shot to get home. Trees and mounding on the right pinch the landing
area ever so slightly. Your second shot is critical, as you must stay clear of
the water and sand left which covers that side of the green. Layup short and
right is the play, as the fairway is slightly elevated, but once again, honey
drop mounds on the right will tighten your throat. The green is long, narrow
and undulating with a chipping area to the right, so you best be spot on with
At first look, the third seems like a simple par four with a very wide
fairway. Think again, Batman! A lake guards the entire left side of the hole,
in addition, bunkering and severe mounding flank the right, so your tee shot
must be accurate. To make matters worse, an S-shaped, 50-yard bunker also lays
in waiting down the left. Then comes your approach with a medium to short iron
to a very tight green, just 23 paces in depth. This lima bean shaped surface
is slick with a pair of bunkers fronting. A back-left flag will bring the
trouble into play, so make sure you play down the right for your best
The fourth is one of three par threes on the course in the 180-yard range. It
looks benign, however when the wind is blowing into your face, generally the
direction on this hole, then you better think twice about which club to hit.
You will also need to take into account that the putting surface is slightly
elevated, so when you thought it was a six-iron, you might want to hit four
just to be safe. The green is another small one, with bunkers left and grass
traps to the right that sit well below the surface.
Number five is one of my favorites on the course. A robust par four of 451
yards, you'll need to play a draw from the tips and carry you're blast 240
yards to reach the fairway. Anything short of the promised land will end up in
sand and mounding that sits below the fairway. A medium to long iron is needed
to get home to a fairly large, but two-tiered green.
If need be, the par-five sixth can reach 612 yards from the back tee. Not only
that, it features a split fairway, so not only must your drive carry a great
distance, but you must clear the mounding and traps with your second. Although
the layup area is generous, sand right and mounds left make for an awkward
approach. The putting surface angles to the right, with a deep-faced trap
fronting the green. Even if you miss your putt for birdie, you'll be happy
with a par.
The seventh is a beauty. A wonderfully designed, boomeranged-right par four
over water and sand. Cut off as much as you want, but don't be greedy, as
you'll need to carry 270 yards from the tips to reach the fairway. A medium
iron approach should suffice, but remember, the green is slightly elevated and
shallow, so be precise. You'll have to clear the water a second time, so TAKE
One of the longest greens on the course, the eighth is a par three of 188
yards, with an additional marker 17 yards back. The hole shares a putting
surface with the eighth on the South Course, making this green some 72 paces
long. Slightly elevated with strategically placed bunkers, not to mention a
chipping area left, you'll be hard-pressed to get up and down if you miss the
The closing hole on the North Course is one of the longest par fours at Grand
Cypress, a robust 468 yards. A lake left covers the entire hole and despite
the absence of fairway bunkers, mounding down the right makes the generous
fairway that much tighter. The second shot is where the player separates
himself from the pretender. A long and narrow green, tucked behind a bulkhead
will certainly get your attention, especially if you're approaching with a
long iron. Bailing out right will only get you a spot in a deep, greenside
bunker or worse, severe mounding that falls away from the green.
The South Course opens with a fairly simple par four. A generous fairway
awaits without any bunkers, but with mounding and love grass to the right and
a drop off to the left. Even so, missing this fairway is hard to do. A medium
to short iron should remain to a slightly elevated green with a trio of pot
bunkers guarding the left side. Mounding in the rear and to the right of the
back-to-front sloping green provide plenty of angst in your effort to make
Next up is a boomerang par five that stretches to 590 yards from the gold
markers. With water running down the entire right side, this hole presents a
huge challenge. First off, you'll need to bust a drive just to reach the
fairway. Next, your layup with certainly flirt with the H2O and the sliver of
a landing area from 120 yards and in. Finally, your approach must carry the
moat that lays in front of the green. To make matters worse, the Z-shaped
putting surface is one of the longest on the course at 39 paces. WOW!
The shortest par three on the course, the third is just 158 yards, however you
must carry the pond that fronts the green and covers the right. A front-right
pin position will certainly test your will, not to mention your ability,
especially when the wind is blowing. Sand short and rear is not a bad place to
miss...it sure beats the water.
All I can say about the fourth, is to lock and load. At 460 yards, it's a
whopper of a hole and it requires a lot of strength. Key No. 1 is the tee
shot, that must favor the right side, despite the large bunker and trees.
Clearing the trap will set up a a great angle to the hole, despite the use of
a long iron or fairway metal. The slightly elevated green features run offs in
the front and left and a deep bunker to the right. The putting surface is
extremely undulating with several tricky plateau's. A par here is a great
Strategy will definitely come into play on the fifth. Just 347 yards with a
tight fairway and an enormous waste area bunker on the right will certainly
get your attention. The overhanging trees on the right and the dervish 18-
stepped green need to be taken into account as well. Fairway metal off the tee
should be the play, thus leaving a short iron to the elevated putting surface.
The green is not overly tricky, but it's the smallest on the course, so
pinpoint accuracy is required.
Another massive par five awaits on the sixth tee. This time stretching 595
yards and wrapping around more water. Mounds, moguls, pot bunkers, a lake and
a twisting fairway should provide enough of a challenge for even the best
players. The landing area is ample off the tee, but things constrict as you
bend to the left. Your approach to the severely elevated green will require at
least one extra stick and when the pin is back, maybe two. Sharp fall offs
around the front and sides will create havoc with your game, not to mention
From an elevated tee, the view of the seventh provides the player with a true
links-style feel as you gaze out towards the green. Mounding and bunkers down
the right must be avoided at all costs if you're to have an obstructed view of
the green. Otherwise, you're picking a cloud in the sky as a target point. The
further down the fairway off the tee, the tighter the landing area. A medium
to long iron is need to reach the long, but quite narrow putting surface. More
mounds on both sides of the green should help an errant shot, but the two
traps on the left sit well above the surface and can make for a difficult up
The final par three on the South Course is a wonderful, 183-yarder that
requires as much skill and accuracy as any shot you have taken. The green,
which is a shared surface with the North's eighth, is tight and long with
several bunkers guarding the promised land. Miss long and right and you'll
have virtually no shot at making par and left, well let's just say your sand
game better be real good.
Number nine south is a reincarnation of the ninth of the north, just wrapping
around the water to the right instead of the left. The big difference here are
the two, 100-yard long bunkers down the right side that skirt the lake. The
fairway is quite generous, so don't be greedy, just leave yourself a slightly
longer second shot to avoid the trouble. Your approach will be with a mid to
long iron to a long and slender putting surface. With sand and water right and
moguls to the left, you'll be hard-pressed to get this one close on the two-
REVIEW: NEW COURSE - Number one is as advertised. A shared fairway with the
18th and a burn fronting the green, just like the Old Course at St. Andrews. A
huge fairway, so lock and load and let it rip. The only danger is the woods
and out-of-bounds right. Just a wedge should remain to a green that slopes
from back to front, but keep in mind that a front pin could bring the burn
The pot bunkers really come into play on the second, a sharp, dogleg left par
five. Another generous fairway, but the handful of bunkers down the right
tighten it just a bit. Reach the monument in the fairway and you have a shot
at getting home. Remember that the putting surface is elevated, so you'll
really need to carry your second to reach the green. The putting surface is
quite large, tiered and shared with the 16th, so no easy two-putt here.
Although the shortest of the par three's, the third can be stretched, as it
shares its green with the 15th. Your tee shot must first clear a marsh and
then a diabolical pot bunker (yes, I was in it) to reach the putting surface.
The green is 45 paces in length and is quite narrow with additional bunkers
left and right. This gem will certainly get your attention.
The fourth is a solid, dogleg left par four that generally plays into the
wind. At 440 yards, you'll need to crack a solid draw in an effort to cut the
corner. Three bunkers at the point of attack must be avoided to have any
chance. Bail out right and you're sure to find one of the six traps or worse,
out of bounds. Your approach with a mid to long iron can be played one of two
ways, especially when the wind is up. Since no bunkers surround the green,
knock one down to get home, or, if calm, play it full. The putting surface is
another shared one, so you'll have to pick the right club from the fairway,
otherwise, you might be putting all day.
Yes, the pot bunkers, a baker's dozen in all are littered throughout the
fifth, but a solid drive will surely be enough to reach the wide fairway of
this short par four. A short iron should do the trick to reach the green, but
the putting surface is massive, since it's shared with the 13th. Plenty of
undulations and pin placements, not to mention a false front, so get your GPS
out for your best plan of attack.
If you thought the last fairway was a challenge to maneuver around, then
you'll feel equally challenged on the sixth. A fairly short par five, this one
doglegs slightly to the left. The real obstacle is the myriad of bunkers
scattered in the landing area. Left will give you a shorter approach, but
right, with its raised fairway, a somewhat better try at getting home in two.
The green, shared with the 12th, is a roller-coaster ride with a huge swale in
the center. A front flag will bring the bunkers and roll-off areas into play.
So what started as an easy par five, turned into a real workout.
Playing slightly uphill, especially from the right back tee, the seventh will
require a medium to long iron to reach this par three. The green is fronted by
a deep pot bunker and the putting surface slopes hard from back to front. Miss
on the wrong section of the green and you'll be faced with an almost
impossible two-putt. All shots hit short and right, will feed back off the
One of my favorite holes on the course is the par four, dogleg right eighth.
Reaching 440 yards, it starts with a semi-blind tee ball to a rolling and pot-
bunkered fairway. Even with a successful shot, you're still left with a long
iron or fairway metal to a green fronted by a watery burn. The putting surface
is fairly small and runs towards the water, so if you were forced to layup,
you better not spin that wedge to much.
The closing hole on the ninth is probably the easiest on the course. Well, for
most people. It's just 382 yards and plays straightaway. Simple, right...not!
There are so many pot bunkers strewn throughout the fairway, that you'll need
a laser pointer and a GPS to guide your way. If you're fortunate enough to
find the landing area, then just a wedge should remain. The green is one of
the smallest on the New Course at just 28 paces and is surrounded by five pot
bunkers. The putting surface is slightly raised with fall-offs all around, so
if the wind is up, you better be precise with your approach as I can certainly
At 330 yards, the 10th hole is the shortest par four on the course, but
certainly not rated as the simplest. A couple of factor you should now if you
want to conquer this gem. First of all, with over a half a dozen bunkers down
the left, you want to play out to the right where the fairway is quite
accessible. Second, a long iron or fairway metal should be the play, thus
setting up a very short iron approach. Finally, with a green just 29 steps in
depth and a burn fronting, you best be spot on. Sand left and mounds and
swales right and deep will keep you guessing. And you thought this was an easy
If you can bomb a drive over the love grass on the right section of the 11th
fairway, then you'll have a clear shot to the green on this rugged dogleg
left. That's a big if, as the rippled fairway and strategically placed pot
bunkers will give you "agida" off the tee. The putting surface is large, as
it's shared with the seventh and slopes hard to the left, so your approach
must be struck accurately.
The longest par three on the course is the 12th at 207 yards. Usually played
into the wind, you'll need to crank a long iron or fairway metal just to reach
the putting surface. The green is slightly elevated, undulating and long with
chipping areas to the right and short-left. With a deep bunker left, the
sensible play is to bail right and hope for an up and down. It's hard to
believe that this is rated as one of the easiest holes on the course.
I love holes where you can just let it rip and the 13th is a perfect example
of that philosophy. Although quite lengthy at 431 yards, the fairway is
enormous and the one fairway bunker that comes into play requires a blast of
257 yards to carry. Set your sites down the left to leave yourself an slightly
uphill approach to a green that pitches right to left. The putting surface is
quite wide, but very small at just 23 paces in depth, so you're approach needs
to be exact.
The key on the next hole is to avoid the trio of pot bunkers and gorse bushes
and love grass down the right and you're home free. Greatly affected by the
wind, the 14th will test your patience, especially with your approach. The
green is elevated, undulating and quick, and with fall-offs on all sides, you
better be careful.
At 590 yards from the blue tees, it's hard to believe anyone can get home in
two on this mammoth par five, the longest hole on the course. Bending to the
right, the 15th in reminiscent to the "Long Hole" on the Old Course at St.
Andrews (No. 14). It features a group of bunkers (The Beardies) down the left
that need to be avoided off the tee and "Hell Bunker" which comes into play
with your layup. Let's not forget the lake down the right along with the stone
wall that runs over 100 yards and is very much in play. If you can clear "Hell
Bunker," then you'll have just a little pitch uphill to a very long green that
runs away from you. Obviously with all of this commentary, it should come as
no surprise, it's rated the second most difficult hole on the course.
In contrast, the 16th is rated as the easiest of the bunch. A fairly benign
par three, this one still requires a long iron to one of the longest greens on
the course at 45 paces. A pot bunker on the right is very deep and must be
avoided, but the falloff on the left is well below the green and is no bargain
either. Pin position and the wind will dictate your club choice.
Although there is no hotel to strike your tee shot over, the 17th is slightly
similar to its counterpart, the "Road Hole" at St. Andrews. Slated as a par
five on the card, it only plays 485 yards and this slight, dogleg right
features a blind tee ball that must be played over mounding. The safe play
might be to the left, but a bunker, rolling fairway and a lengthier second
will remain. No matter where you play from, you'll be hard-pressed to have a
level lie, but if you're lucky enough to have a stance, go for it. The green
is small and with a pot bunker on the right instead of the left and keep in
mind that behind the green is a cart path and a stone wall. Let's see you play
No sand, the widest fairway in golf and just 371 yards long, what's the big
deal? Well, first of all, it's fashioned after the closing hole at St.
Andrews, so that mean's the Swilcan Bridge and the Valley of Sin. Pound your
drive as far down the left side as you can, to set up the best angle of
attack. The key here will always be the approach over the Valley of Sin,
especially if the pin is back and left. Any shot just a bit off will certainly
roll down into this large hollow. If this doesn't get you juiced for making a
trip, I don't know what will.
FINAL WORD: Most people who read course reviews figure if the writer played
well, then he liked the golf course and will give it high praise. Having read
other pieces by certain writers who will remain nameless, I definitely believe
this to be the case, since I have played some of the courses they have
reviewed, and those venues are not worthy to be mentioned.
I mention this, because when given the chance to play the New Course at Grand
Cypress Resort, I loved it and yes, I played great. Not sure if this ruins my
theory, but, oh well.
Having never been to the British Isles (yet) to play golf, I have only been
able to see its wonderful courses through photos and television, and can only
imagine how fantastic they are to play.
When Nicklaus crafted the New Course, he had all the nuances of the Old Course
at St. Andrews in mind, getting a golfer as close as possible to a U.K. course
without actually having to hop across the pond.
From the shared fairways of one and 18, the hundreds of pot bunkers throughout
the course, the Swilcan Bridge, the many shared greens throughout the course
to the Road Hole and the Valley of Sin, the New Course is quite close to St
To simulate the Old Course Hotel and the 17th, Nicklaus built a bluff on the
right as an aiming point on this dogleg right. Although it plays as a par
five here, as opposed to a four par overseas, it still requires two good blows
to get home and features a cart path and stone wall behind the green,
reminiscent of the Road Hole. And yes, I knocked it on in two and two-putted
As far as the North/South layout, with no par 3s over 200 yards and several
par 4s under 400 yards and a reachable par five, where's the beef? Don't be
misled. Although the scorecard says 7,062 yards, it can be stretched to almost
7,300 yards and will play every bit of that.
Nicklaus' design on the North/South is pure target-style golf featuring sharp
doglegs, elevated greens and slick, undulating putting surfaces. One can say
that Nicklaus really honed his design craft at Grand Cypress, as this venue
has many characteristics that have helped him become one of the greatest
architects of our generation.
Forget some of the other destinations that have 20, 30 or more courses in a
50-mile radius, you can play at Grand Cypress for four straight days and not
play the same layout twice. You'll never have to leave the property!
Another stellar aspect is the award-winning Grand Cypress Academy of Golf. Led
by director Fred Griffin, the academy features the latest in state-of-the-art
equipment. Griffin is recognized by Golf Digest as one of America's 50
Greatest Teachers. "The emphasis on our teaching programs is on gaining solid
mastery of all the important areas of the game through proven, personalized
To top it off, the academy is spread out over 21 acres and features three
designed holes by Nicklaus, a par 3, 4 and 5, not to mention a covered driving
range, practice bunkers and a 7,500 square foot putting green.
What makes Grand Cypress even more appealing are the amazing amenities that
the resort has to offer.
The 1,500-acre property has been named a AAA Four-Diamond resort, and with
How about 146 different sized villas, furnished Mediterranean-style, complete
with cathedral ceilings, picture windows and paddle fans. The property itself
is luxuriously landscaped and is interwoven throughout parts of the golf
As you would expect, there is more.
Dining at Grand Cypress is top drawer. Nine18 is an upscale dinner-only
restaurant, while The Club serves all three meals to perfection.
And by the way, just one mile away is the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, where
all guests of the Villas receive complimentary use of the Health Club, Racquet
Club, Pitch 'n' Putt nine-hole course, resort bicycles and my 10-year-old
son's favorite, the half-acre outdoor lagoon swimming pool with 12 waterfalls
and two water slides. How cool is that?
To top it off, Mickey, Minnie and the gang at Disney and the other theme parks
are just minutes away!
So let's get this straight. Forty-five championship holes of golf designed by
the greatest golfer ever, a golf academy to cure any player's nightmares, so
many family options that your head will spin and you're a couple of miles away
from the most recognized theme park in the world. So what are you waiting for?