Cy­press Lake Coun­try Club

Gulf & Main - - Golf -

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.

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