For the second time in less than a week, I stood on the first hole of a Jack Nicklaus designed golf course, staring at my ball which lay within a strategically placed bed of high pampas grass. I was only one stroke into my round at the Grand Cypress North - South Course, yet this bout of deja vu made it clear I was in for a very long day.
|The North #1|
I managed to hack the ball out a few yards forward, knocked my next shot to within a few feet of the hole, and to my utter surprise, made the putt for an incredibly unconventional par. Perhaps I shouldn't have been so quick to cast judgement on this round after all...
|Interactive GPS unit in every cart.|
The Grand Cypress Resort features some of the most renowned golf to be found in the state of Florida. The North, South, and East nines are a canvas to which the Golden Bear has painted a challenging layout, full of the many quirks often found on his signature designs. In contrast, The New Course is a tribute to the Old Course at St. Andrews, and features a links style design rarely seen in the Sunshine State.
|The 19th Hole aka The Club Room|
After sitting around The Villas and reading most of the day, I grew a bit stir crazy and decided to head to the course a full two hours early. My hope was that I'd be able to hop out a little earlier than my 4:30 tee time, but as expected on a Saturday afternoon, the course was packed, and it was clear this wouldn't be possible. Instead, I decided to spend some much needed time on the practice putting green.
|The practice green.|
With still over an hour to kill, I headed to the range to get in a warm up. Given the caliber of the Grand Cypress facility, to say I was disappointed in what I found would be an understatement. There was hardly a blade of grass from which to hit, but on the bright side, this probably helped my dreadfully bad fairway bunker play...
|This was the best spot I could find...|
There was finally a break in groups, which allowed me to squeeze out onto the North side about half an hour early. I opted to play the gold tees, which for the North - South combination comes in at a little over 7100 yards in length. This is about 200-300 yards more than my comfort zone, but the blue tees were too short by about the same amount. Given the choice, I decided to take on all that ole Jack had put out there.
|The narrow chute of the 2nd tee.|
Throughout the course, the signature touches of Mr. Nicklaus are literally everywhere. Pampas grass, enormous bunkers, and of course water hazards, are in place to punish nearly every wayward drive. The greens at Grand Cypress are some of the most undulating I have ever experienced, and at times made the Andes Mountains look like a little set of mole hills.
|The 2nd green = Brutal|
There is also plenty for design enthusiasts to admire about the North - South course. For example, the 8th and 9th holes of both courses feature rarely seen double greens. In addition, the 9th holes on each side are a virtual mirror image of one another, both slight doglegs wrapping a pond in the middle. The green on the 8th hole of the North course was essentially a plateau, leaving a very awkward chip to anyone short, left, or right. Finally, the Golden Bear shows his love of short par 4's several times throughout the course, and of course I managed to bogey every one of them.
|The tee shot on #5|
Sadly, I had to cut my round short at 14 holes, by skipping the 3rd through 6th on the South side. My time constraints weren't caused by rain or darkness, but something far more important...a dinner reservation. On the fourteen holes I played, however, I came in at ten over par, which put me on track for a lackluster 85. Of course, only a fool would attempt to prognosticate a golf score.
|The difficult par 3 8th.|
The shot of the day came on the 9th hole of the North, where I hit a beautiful 4-iron from 210 yards to within 8 feet of the cup. Naturally, I missed the putt...
|The mirror image 9th holes|
The Scorer's Tent
My round at Grand Cypress was the first time in a long while that I actually played by myself. I had forgotten just how relaxing it can be to spend a day alone with one's thoughts on the golf course. Perhaps that is because my thoughts on the golf course are usually self deprecating in their nature. Either way, the solitude combined with a beautiful and challenging golf course made for one awesome day.
|Great view from tee on South #7|
Anyone can get on at Grand Cypress, however I would highly suggest doing so as part of a golf package at the resort. There are plenty of great money saving options for guests of the Villas and Hyatt Grand Cypress, which will help soften the blow of the $175 green fee for day guests.
|The intimidating 9th green of both North & South|
From tee to green, my experience on the North - South Course at Grand Cypress more than lived up to expectations. I walked off the course having felt thoroughly challenged, but not defeated. Any golfer will attest that there is a fine line between the two, and on this day I managed to stay on the right side of the green.
~Insert Dude-like Closing Here~