50 Words or Less
The Cypress Bend at Craft Farms is part of the 36 hole Arnold Palmer design that offers a variety of exciting holes with a layout and conditions to match the prestige of its famed player and architect.
Find out why the Alabama Gulf Coast is a great choice for any golf trip HERE
Arnold Palmer designed hundreds of golf courses all over the world and restored even more. There are only two Arnold Palmer Signature Design golf courses in the state of Alabama and both of them happen to sit right in the heart of Gulf Shores at the Craft Farms Golf Course. Craft Farms is a 36-hole facility just steps from the white sand beaches of the Alabama gulf coast. We got a chance to play Cypress Bend at Craft Farms recently, and it was a treat.
The practice facilities at Craft Farms are plentiful. There is a full length, all grass driving range with standard golf balls to prepare for your round. There is a scenic chipping green behind the 10th tee so be sure to leave an extra few minutes to drive over there and back prior to teeing off.
Unique to Craft Farms is two separate practice putting greens available on site. Each green correlates to the greens on their respective course. Both putting greens are massive and allow plenty of options to warm up prior to a round here. Get to the course early to take advantage of the tremendous practice areas.
Customer Service & Amenities
Southern hospitality is on full display here at Craft Farms. From the pro shop staff to the starters and cart crew, everyone was eager to lend tips for playing the round and how to better enjoy our experience.
That same southern charm extended after the round as our group explored the newly renovated pro shop and restaurant. The old pro shop was damaged by Hurricane Sally in 2020 and is going to be turned into lodging sometime in the future. In the meantime, the new pro shop is fully stocked with anything you need before or after your round with a fantastic tree logo which made its way back home with me in the form of a few new items.
Beauty & Scenery
Designing a scenic golf course within a neighborhood is a tall task, but Arnold Palmer took that challenge on using a variety of design elements to create a visually stunning course. Although the homes that surround the course are visible at times, Palmer used features such as streams, plants, and course shaping to pull your focus to the course the entire round.
The main design element at Craft Farms is water. While plenty of holes had water in play, there were also bodies of water that merely added to the aesthetic. Palmer also uses different types of plants along the banks of the water that draw your focus in towards the greens. The mix of plant life was an attraction for the wild birds that were native to the area.
One thing I really enjoyed about Cypress Bend at Craft Farms is the amount of tee shots that provoke your imagination. Standing on many of the tees you have options on how to play a hole, such as cutting the corner and clearing a hazard or taking less club and going the safer route. I love this type of risk-reward, and it is prevalent here.
Because of these options, many of the fairways are wide and can provide relief for errant shots. No matter what way you decide to play off the tee, there’s plenty of room to find some grass. I noticed midway through the round that Palmer rewards the aggressive player. If you enjoy using the driver and are accurate, not only are you going to find lots of fairways, but you will likely have the best positions to go after pins.
The approach shots at Cypress Bend at Craft Farms are all based upon how aggressive you are off the tee. Even a great drive can still lead to an approach shot that is visually intimidating. As I played my round, I quickly realized this was only a visual tactic as the greens were larger than what I could see from the fairway. I had to mentally block out the visuals and trust my club choice.
The fairways are wide here but if you do happen to find the rough, it is not going to be your favorite place. The rough was not deep but it was thick and difficult to get solid contact from. The few times I found the rough, I struggled to make par.
I also found myself in a handful of fairway bunkers during the round. Thankfully, the edges were relatively low and did not pose a huge risk to get a ball up and out. The sand itself was somewhat inconsistent from bunker to bunker, but overall, if you have a decent sand game, they will not be too punishing.
Greens & Surrounds
Cypress Bend at Craft Farms has larger than average sized greens. Most of them were relatively flat with very few undulations which made two putting manageable. The trouble lies with pin positions, particularly when they are tucked in shallow areas of a green. Taking on these sucker pins can make or break a round.
Very similar to Peninsula Golf Club [Review HERE] just down the road, the fringe and surrounds are not all that penal with the exception of the par threes. They are mowed down to a first cut length which allows for almost any type of chip, pitch, or putt from off the green .
The greenside bunkers are no different than the fairway traps in that they are tricky. Whether the lie calls for a splash shot, nippy spinner, or chunk and run, the flat and forgiving greens allows for a multitude of shots of any level player.
Arnold Palmer did a marvelous job curating a fun and dynamic golf course from a mostly flat piece of land. The layout incorporates both short and long holes that challenge the golfer in different ways. This design is not overly difficult, but there are decisions to be made on just about every hole, which is exciting and keeps you engaged the entire round.
#3 – Par 5 – 475 Yards
This early par five stood out as one of my favorites in large part because of the photo above. A good drive gives the player the option of going for it in two with the obvious danger of the pond that catches anything short and right. Making it a three shot hole is still tough as the third shot with a wedge could also find the water. The 11th hardest hole by ranking, there are lots of opportunities to score on this one if you play it right.
#5 – Par 4 – 333 Yards
The short par four fifth hole is not reachable by most, especially with a false front that deters any ball trying to run up on the green. The entire right side of the fairway is flanked by a series of bunkers and, as you can see, I found one of them off the tee. The rare two tiered green is split by such a large ridge that it is essentially two small greens on one hole. Find the correct side and you’ll have a good look at birdie.
#8 – Par 3 – 153 Yards
The par three eighth is a mid length hole with a slightly elevated tee shot. It is all carry over the large pond to a wide but narrow green that has a bunker in the back for balls going long. This one reminds me a little of the 12th at Augusta in length and design. This is one you just have to step up and hit the right shot to the middle of the green as there really is no bailout anywhere. Either way, it sure is nice to look at!
Cypress Bend at Craft Farms is a layout that will leave you wanting to play here over and over again. There are many risk-reward holes that challenge the golfer, while the beauty will make you want time to slow down. If the name Arnold Palmer doesn’t make you want to book a round here, the variety of 36 different holes certainly should.