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Review: A different take on Florida golf. If you enjoy 'old world' course design, the Grand Cypress New Course is well worth a visit.

Florida Orlando Course Review

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#1 pdksca

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 06:37 PM

I played the Grand Cypress 'New Course' in November, 2012.   A brief review:

This isn't a true Scottish/Irish links style-course, as I'll elaborate on below, but the visual and structural inspiration for this Jack Nicklaus design is definitely old world.

Stepping onto the first tee, much of the golf course is stretched out in front of you, just as you’d expect at a seaside course across the pond. The tee boxes are huge rectangles.  Pot bunkers and wild swales are scattered about as far as the eye can see.  Many of the putting surfaces are massive ‘double greens,’ sharing outward (white flag) and return (yellow flag) holes at each end. And there are two clichéd but well done St. Andrew’s Swilcan burn replica bridges.

At 6800 yards from the tips, this isn’t a long course. And this shows in the 121 slope/71.9 rating.   With virtually no forest in-bounds, wayward tee shots will usually find some kind of a playable resting spot. The many bunkers, particularly greenside, do offer a spirited defense, however.  And the greens are often severely sloped, and as mentioned above, huge, so a two-putt is far from guaranteed.

I mentioned at the outset that this isn’t a ‘true’ old world course, despite the nod to St.Andrew’s Old Course.   Firstly, the greens, and the fairways for that matter, are soft and lush.  This is a course conditioned to Floridian standards.  Throw a ball into the green, even from a distance and it will hold.  Aim at an open spot between fairway bunkers and your drive will settle before bouncing wildly into trouble. The unyielding playing surfaces common in Scotland are nowhere to be found.

Links courses are by definition seaside routings, originally the strip of grassy sand-dunned land that ‘links inland farms to the sea.’  The Grand Cypress is far, far from the either Florida coast.   True links courses have virtually no trees in sight and don’t employ water hazards (other than the occasional burn and of course the ocean boundary itself.  The New Course is true to the theme by playing through a treeless meadow, but jungle surrounds the course and can come into play on the perimeter.

True to the links spirit, Jack did keep water hazards to a minimum, the most demanding being a cleverly routed ‘burn’ (creek) that you’ll meet right away on the first hole, pushed right up to the green, forcing an all-carry approach.  On that theme, true links courses tend to be open in front, allowing a ‘bump and run’ approach.  The Grand Cypress New Course mixes this technique with raised greens surrounded by more contemporary bunkering, required an air attack.


Criticisms?  A few, but they don’t detract materially from a very enjoyable golf experience.   There is a big yardage gap between the back tees and the whites, which play only to only 6100 yards.  If you sport a solid middle handicap, I’d recommend giving the back tees a try, perhaps moving up to the whites on the par 3’s (which are 185-210 yards from the back markers).  

As for the double greens, this design feature simply appears to be ‘trying too hard,’ particularly in this quantity.  There are seven double greens – fourteen of eighteen holes share a surface – which happens to be the same number as at the St. Andrew’s Old Course.  There’s a reason golf course design moved away from the double green a century ago.  Over-club on your approach and you can fly your shot into golfers putting at the other end of the green.  And a boisterous group grinding out putts on the same surface can be distracting, even if they’re at the other end of a green that might be as large as two acres in area.  


All in, the Grand Cypress New Course is a delightful course.  Great, relaxed fun without being a push-over in any way. Conditioning was very good when I played. The plentiful staff was helpful, both on the course and in the clubhouse.  

You’ll have to smile and shake your head when you find one yourself in one of the many bunkers.   But even here, Jack has included an architectural compromise for the North American golfer.  What you see is what you get – there are very few blind shots and most traps are clearly visible from the tee.

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Edited by pdksca, 13 November 2012 - 06:39 PM.


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#2 sabram

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 06:28 AM

Photo tour of the New Course... some from a Summer round and some from the Winter. At least in Winter it looks like a links, but it never plays fast & firm.



#3 J13

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 07:00 AM

looks great thanks for the review and pics
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