In a town best known for its theme parks, Orlando is also home to a nirvana of golf destinations, the Villas of Grand Cypress Golf Resort.
In addition to fabulous accommodations, exquisite dining, a relaxing spa, tennis, two refreshing swimming pools, a health and fitness center, and plenty of activities for children and adults alike, Grand Cypress offers some of Florida's best golf. Not only can you play the best tracks in Orlando, but you can include lessons at the Academy of Golf to get your game on-track.
The Villas at Grand Cypress is like a home away from home. You can stay in anything from a suite to a four-bedroom villa. Bring just your spouse for an intimate get-away or bring the entire family or golf gang along for some fun. With most units featuring a kitchen, you can truly make this home.
The club features three nines, the North, South and East, all originally designed and recently renovated by Jack Nicklaus, and the 18-hole New Course, a Nicklaus masterpiece.
The North, South and East nines test your mental toughness and accuracy rather than your strength and distance. They may be played in several combinations and are marked by sharply ledged fairways, tall shaggy mounds, greens perched above water and sand, and many beautiful trees. It's a demanding test of target-style golf.
To play the new course, which opened in 1988, is to step into a world of golf unlike any other in Florida. Nicklaus' masterpiece, built in the midst of a rolling, open meadow, is a tribute to the old course at St. Andrews. Complete with double greens, stone bridges and walls, gorse mounds, burns, and those pesky pot bunkers as deep as 12 feet, it is a creation in the Scottish spirit.
Very little water comes into play on the course, but it may be found. The interior of the course offers few trees, creating huge fairways and plenty of room to miss your target and still have a shot. Of course your wayward shots may find one of those deep pot bunkers, or another fairway, or even a mound covered in gorse. You could also face a putt from well over 100 feet if you find the wrong side of a double green.
Like all links courses, the new course's defense is not in its length. Without trees, but with devilish bunkers and swirling winds, the course is well defended. Mother Nature decides just how difficult your round will be.
In addition to a few long par-4s, there is one that tempts you to drive the green and yet another where trying such foolishness will likely introduce you to the burn.
Three of the four par-5s tempt you to get home in two with a hybrid or long iron. However, that decision could be made for you should you find a bunker off the tee. Doing so can turn any hole into a par-6 or worse. I quickly learned to take my medicine and make certain that I hit my next shot out of the bunker, even if it meant going backwards.
At the new course, you need not be afraid of spraying the ball a bit. I actually hit the same fairway from three different tees during my round. The greens are huge with subtle undulations and are kept at a respectable speed. In true Scottish links fashion, you can choose many ways to play any shot. There are times when you should bump and run the ball, and others where you'll need to hit it high and land it softly. You'll use every club and every shot in your bag here.
As you step to the 18th tee to conclude your round, you can picture in your mind's eye the final and first holes surrounded by bleachers filled with fans. You can feel the spirit of the game and all those who have played on a links course before. The new course doesn't have the history of the old course, but it has the "feel". Best of all, it's just a short drive from home.
After our round we dropped by The Club, a restaurant and sports bar right in the clubhouse, for an early dinner, while catching up on the day's sports news and enjoying a cold beverage. For elegant dining the Nine 18, overlooking the ninth and 18th greens of the North and South Courses, offers fine steaks, seafood and more.
To find out about golf packages and more at the Villas of Grand Cypress Golf Resort, visit www.grandcypress.com or call 877-330-7377.
James Stammer has been an avid golfer and golf enthusiast for nearly 40 years. He hosts the Thursday Night Golf Show on WSTU 1450-AM. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.