Cypress Lake Country Club
Along with a trusty hybrid, a startling number of Cypress Lake Country Club golfers pack a sleeve of something most of us can’t find in the pro shop—skill. Nearly one-third of membership at the historic club dating to 1959 are at single-digit handicap, says club general manager Ed Rodgers, himself a 2-handicap who started at Cypress Lake as assistant golf professional in 1972. Greens are quick and there are fairway challenges off the long tees measuring about 7,000 yards. The 18-hole course with screening bunkers and trees requires placement shots and flair around the greens to score well.
Cypress Lake, Rodgers says, “attracts more than its normal share of really good golfers. With shot values and the high-caliber play, (you) have to hit good shots.”
Cypress Lake harkens to a time when many golf designs didn’t always include surrounding residential or commercial development. The member-formed club was founded by players frustrated with crowding in season at public courses. Some 20 players set the project in motion, selling equity shares and shoveling earth for the Dick Wilson course. A handful of those founding members are still active in Cypress Lake. Rodgers recalls that Cypress Lake off Winkler in Fort Myers—the city’s first private facility and its second-oldest course—was set in a vastness of scrub and grazing pastures. The entire region south of College Parkway in 1959, in fact, was empty, which may be hard to absorb in the super-abundance of shopping and residential crowding in modern Southwest Florida.
Cypress Lake members play from six sets of tees, from under 5,000 to 7,000 yards. All but two holes have water in play and Bermuda grass fairways reward excellent shot placement. Fast and undulating TifEagle greens challenge even the best shortgamers. While most members use carts, the layout makes it ideal for the walking player. Wildlife is abundant and there’s a certain peacefulness to playing without the visual and sound interferences of nearby homes, Rodgers says.
Course designer Dick Wilson also laid out such courses as New York’s Shinnecock Hills, Florida’s Seminole, Bay Hill in Orlando, the Blue Monster at Doral, La Costa in California, and the Lakeside Course (now The Meadows) at The Greenbrier in West Virginia.
Cypress Lake has since 1959 undergone renovations under the direction of golf architect Ron Garl, who restored many of Wilson’s original design elements. The irrigation system was replaced and extended; fairways were raised for drainage and design. The driving range was lengthened and widened; TifEagle greens were added with a Stimp rating of 11.5, Rodgers says. The $2.7 million project included a bump in practice facilities, and a large putting green to better prepare players with pitching and undulating strokes. The club’s range features small and close greens for short irons, traditional flags to measure driving and iron distances and accuracy.
Check the club’s website for membership fees and requirements. Craig Garrett is Group Editor-in-Chief for TOTI Media.