Major changes coming to Grand Cypress Golf Resort Orlando

Long-rumored closing of a popular 27-hole course paves way for resort expansion and future Nicklaus Design golf plans.
The New Course at Grand Cypress Resort was inspired by the links courses in Scotland.

Since early 2019, rumors have been swirling around Florida and online on golf message boards over the future of Orlando's Grand Cypress Resort, one of the most popular buddies-trip resorts in one of the country's best golf destinations.

The chatter heated up this September when The Villas of Grand Cypress closed, and then 27 holes followed this month.

The 1,500-acre property is in a hot area of Central Florida and development appetite in the region has soared. So what is the true fate of this beloved golf hotbed?

The good news for golfers is the New Course - one of the most unique in central Florida - remains open for play. The even better news is the closures of the villas and the North-South-East nines that once hosted the 2010 LPGA Tour Championship doesn't signal the demise of one of Orlando's most luxurious golf resorts. It's merely to prepare for a major property-wide enhancement.

General Manager Mark Cox wouldn't supply details of what's next, only that the 27 holes will eventually be redesigned by Nicklaus Design into 18 holes. The Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress will remain open for business throughout the transition, although there's talk of new resort hotel/accommodations being built to replace the villas and a new clubhouse replacing the current one.

“We are adding on to the resort, but I can't share any information," Cox said. "There is no firm timetable (set)."

A goodbye message on the resort's website reads: "This is great news for future guests on a development that they will enjoy for years to come. Although we do not have plans to share at this time, we know that the project will take more than two years to complete."

What does the closure mean for Grand Cypress New?

It's unclear how this project will impact the golf experience at the New Course (also designed by Nicklaus) going forward. Currently, the driving range and golf academy are closed. Players can warm up at a chipping and putting green. At some point, it's likely the clubhouse will close, and the pro shop/check-in process moves somewhere else.

A burn runs behind the 17th green on the New Course at Grand Cypress Resort.

What I love about the New Course is its wall-to-wall turf with no rough. You can spray the ball and mostly get away with it. Its reviews are almost as strong as the layout that closed (4.6 star rating average vs. 4.4 average). The New ranked among the top courses in Florida in 2015 and 2017, so it has a track record of good ratings. It is touted as a "links course" thanks to shared double greens, pot bunkers, burns (skinny water hazards) and a replica of the Swilcan Bridge from the Old course at St. Andrews. As a lover of links golf, I can't call it a "true links" but its novelty delivers more fun than most Florida courses.

Georgia Local Golf Advisor RettJ gave the New course five stars after playing it for the first time in March.

"I had a great time and loved the course," he wrote. "However, it is very challenging the 1st time playing the course because it is a challenge to know where to go, where is the next tee, where the holes go, what pin is the correct pin for the hole you are playing (there are more double greens on this course than I have ever seen on one course). The condition of the course is fantastic. The fairways are huge and wide. TONS of bunkers all over the course. Many bunkers you can not even see from the tee box."

Personal memories at Grand Cypress

These changes to the resort hit home personally. I got engaged while staying at the villas in 2000. I remember going out to dinner at the Hyatt, where our waiter brought us celebratory drinks and dessert after finding out the big news. It was a nice touch.

The villas were comfortable and spacious and seemed to be popular. The resort website indicates the villas were ranked Trip Advisor's No. 1 hotel in Orlando since 2014. I'm guessing I'm not the only guest who is sad to see them go.

I'm okay with the 27 holes being remastered, even though the 27 holes by Nicklaus were well-respected by Golf Advisor reviewers. It rated among the top six courses in Florida and top 50 in the country by Golf Advisor users from 2016-2018. Yani Tseng won the only LPGA Tour event on property.

Eventual champion Yani Tseng of Taiwan hits a pitch shot to the 18th green during the final round of the 2010 LPGA Tour Championship at the Grand Cypress Resort.

Although there's the nostalgia of keeping the tournament course, I think the resort owners made the right decision in keeping the New course, a more friendly and interesting layout. It was my favorite at Grand Cypress.

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August 14, 2018
Orlando is home to not just theme parks but over 200 golf courses throughout the area. Let our editorial staff help you narrow down the options in Central Florida.

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed and photographed more than 1,100 courses and written about golf destinations in 25 countries for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Instagram at @jasondeegangolfpass and Twitter at @WorldGolfer.

I was a regular (annual) patron of Grand Cypress for many years. Stayed at the Villas and played 27/36 holes each day. Took my grandson son there when I could beat him. He became a golfer after that experience now, no competition. Thanks to Mark Cox, my stay was always pleasurable and I look forward to returning ,with my grandson, who still talks about that trip.

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As a Full time member of the Resort for over 7 years, I am Saddened to see the Iconic Course change for the future. The Staff of the Academy, and Pro shop, as well as the restaurant were always there to take care of my needs, as this became my TRUE second home, I just didn't sleep there at night. The Villas were always first class. I believe the owners are looking for a better return on their investment, and have partnered with another firm that has experience in large high end resort development. Grand Cypress will be missed by the active full time members.

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Recently returned from Orlando for golf and vacation. The quality and chocies of courses are getting less desirable and the traffic and ability to get around is getting ridiu

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Did you play Southern Dunes?

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Major changes coming to Grand Cypress Golf Resort Orlando