PALM COAST, Fla. - The Grand Club's Cypress Course is curiously light on the cypress. I saw plenty of pine and other hardwoods, but precious little cypress -- though there is plenty of swamp.
Excuse me, I meant to say "protected wetlands." We don't say "swamp" any more.
Since the terrain down this way is west of Interstate-95, you won't see any sunny Florida beaches. What you'll get is the low, wet hinterlands of northeast Florida, which is beautiful in its own right.
Elevated tees set you up nicely above the wetlands of the Cypress Course, and the Gary Player design takes you through tight, tree-lined fairways, with some love grass and pot bunkers thrown in to please Scottish enthusiasts. Some nice, grass-topped bunkers guard the approaches to some of the greens.
The course plays through a neighborhood, and some of the homes could be considered too close for comfort, but there are large areas of undisturbed, north Florida flora and fauna. A large osprey swooped down on the middle tees 20 yards in front of me to eat some large flying insect, for example.
Some of the long cart rides through the dense growth are lovely, and the natural cart paths are a nice touch.
The Cypress Course isn't long, at 6,674 yards from the back tees, and can be easily played from back there. The fairways and landing areas are narrow compared to Matanzas, which is forgiving for big hitters, but if you can subdue your driver reasonably, you can score well here.
Be advised: If you can't reign in your driver, the thick woods can eat up your expensive golf balls.
The course is relatively flat, though some of the fairways try to show a little movement, and lakes and ponds are scattered throughout. The greens, floradwarf Bermuda grass, are in good shape, and most of them have some subtle and not-so-subtle undulation.
I'm thinking here of No. 6, which slopes to the middle and has a deep declivity on the right side. You'll need a radio and miner's light to get out of there.
The Cypress Course throws its roundhouse at you early, with the tougher holes coming at you first, on both nines.
"Numbers one, two and three are your most demanding holes, coming out of the chute," said Head Professional Charles Bisignano.
Don't let the tight fairways fool you. This is a scenic course you can score on if you can stay consistently accurate.
"The course is very picturesque with soft, undulating fairways and greens," Bisignano said. "It calls for placement shots."
That it does, though the large, closely-mown collection areas around the greens give excellent chances at recovery shots if you miss the greens.
September 5, 2007