When so many pros belong and train at a resort, it should be great and so Grand Cypress Resort in Orlando, Florida, lives up to its name. Starting with the Grand Cypress Academy of Golf where Suzann Pettersen, Bart Bryant and other pros improve their game, Jon Decker gave us an hour lesson. He refined our bunker saves and worked on balance by having us bounce awkwardly on rubber discs. The extensive practice area covers 21 acres, complete with driving range, bunkers, putting green, state of the art equipment and even 9 full length practice holes. Presiding over the sand students is a massive nest of ospreys.
The New Course, designed by Jack Nicklaus in 1988 as a tribute to the Old Course in St. Andrews, features walled lakes and fairway bunkers in a new challenging way, especially on hole 15. From the tee box, a lake on the right is lined with a stone wall. Local rules provide relief for immovable obstructions on some of the holes, but not in this case. Avoid proximity of the wall or the second shot on the slight dogleg right will be tough. A series of bunkers provide further complications, as they crescendo down the far middle of the fairway, climaxing into the granddad of all bunkers, not far from the green. Landing strategy is obviously critical. This and some of the other holes, seem like they have as much sand as grass, making Jon’s lesson very timely. Number 9 alone, (382 yard par 4 from the tips) has 20 of the course bunkers. There are patches of gorse and Scottish style love grass but it didn’t seem to hinder our play as much as the original St. Andrews. Of course it wouldn’t be a proper tribute without the Swilcan Bridge which is incorporated in the design over streams.
Back in the clubhouse, we bumped into Anna Nordqvist, an ASU grad who is off to another great LPGA season. Grand Cypress is famous for the LPGA stop. 27 holes on the North/South/East courses can be played in any 18 hole combination. More water along with elevated greens requires target shot making. All 45 holes offer enough variety along with the practice area to satisfy any golfer playing day after day.
The restaurant has a circular bar surrounded by tables and extending to the patio with a golf view. The Ahi with veggies appetizer was a perfect light lunch accompanied by Pinot Grigot. A variety of lodging options are available for visitors, with transportation to all the typical Orlando family entertainment. For more information on the resort that can back up the claim to be “more grand than you ever imagined”, check out www.Grandcypress.com.