Review and Rating of Craft Farms Golf Resort Cypress Bend Course in Gulf Shores Alabama
In 1987, R.C. Craft – a self-made man with a turf farm – convinced Arnold Palmer – a self-made mega famous golf tycoon – to build a golf course on a flat sod farm in the middle of nowhere and shortly thereafter Craft Farms' Cotton Creek Golf Course opened for play. In, fact, Craft Farms is essentially how Gulf Shores originally became known as a great golf destination.
In 1993 the front nine of Cypress Bend opened for play with the back nines opening in 1998. Since it's opening Craft Farms has received a number of awards and accolades, some of which include:
- Voted Best in Alabama by readers of Golf World
- Cypress Bend received Golf Digest's 4 ½ stars and Best Places to Play
- Cotton Creek was rated 4 stars and Best Places to Play by Golf Digest
- Won the People’s Choice Award as Best Golf Course
- Awarded America's Top Golf Courses
Each of the Arnold Palmer signature courses at Craft Farms has its own unique personality and characteristics but common to both are lush conditions, immaculate greens, a fantastic plantation style clubhouse with a great restaurant and well stocked pro shop, and first class service. The differences between the two courses include:
- Cypress Bend is more open with a resort links style look and feel with wide fairways, vast landing areas, sprawling bunkers, and large undulating greens – as such it is more player friendly but also has more sand and water to keep you focused
- Cotton Creek is longer and a more traditional and straightforward 18 holes with tight tree lined fairways, dog legs, smaller greens, risk reward opportunities, and a coastal feel as it traverses a unique system of cord-grass accented lakes which come into play on nearly every hole – all which makes this 18 harder by 2 to 3 strokes (rating of 133 versus 123) – read our review of Cotton Creek to learn more
Some of what makes playing Cypress Bend fun, scenic, somewhat challenging, and enjoyable includes:
- 59 huge white sand bunkers strategically placed in the fairways as well as protecting the greens
- two fantastic par 3's on the front nine that are scenic and demanding
- near perfect conditions from tee to pin
- wide forgiving fairways where you can generally bring out the big dog and let-er-rip – you really need to spray the ball to get in trouble
- greens that are in perfect condition, large, roll at a good speed, and have just the right amount of slope and undulation to keep you focused
- fair rates and I saved a fortune by not loosing a single ball – which could be a new record, but I also didn't find any new balls to replace previous losses
- some fun holes including a couple great risk reward opportunities and enough water (17 holes where it can, if you spray it, come into play) to make you pay attention to club selection and course management
- a fair, but slightly demanding (slope of 71.8 and rating of 123 from the tips) 18 where you can have a fun, relaxing, low scoring, and enjoyable round
The wide forgiving fairways make Cypress Bend feel like a links style course. In fact, Arnold must have moved a lot of dirt and sand to create the raised greens and tall sweeping mounds/dunes that line most of the fairways, and to sculpt the rolling contoured fairways that at times seem like a small roller coaster ride. When we played Cypress Bend the fairways were in perfect condition as were the playable roughs. The contrast of the three colors of green from the fairways, greens, fringe, and rough coupled with the white sand bunkers is awe inspiring – particularly after playing the record heat and drought starved brownish fairways in Texas.
The greens at Craft Farms Cypress Bend Course were also in near perfect condition and most are huge and a variety of different shapes. They were soft and ran true and were rolling at a good speed. Most had some slope and undulation including tiers but nothing that was tough enough to cause a lot of three putts.
The white sand bunkers range in size and shape with most on the large side. The sand is soft, fluffy, and thick and lips are manageable. But there are a lot of them in both the fairways and guarding the greens.
Craft Farms is currently owned and operated by Honours Golf Company which is the leading boutique golf course and club management company in the Southeast with a portfolio of excellent courses and a reputation for excellent conditions and service.
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The Clubhouse and Pro Shop has a southern plantation look and feel, the pro shop is well stocked, and the restaurant has some very tasty food. Practice facilities are very good and service is excellent - friendly and outgoing