By Jeffrey A. Rendall, Photos by Kevin Gaydosh
HOPE MILLS, NC – Everybody’s got to be from somewhere, and it’s always a bonus when that ‘somewhere’ happens to be someplace pretty nice – and that’s certainly the case for golf legend Raymond Floyd, who hails from a region of North Carolina that most folks would be happy to call home.
|Most of the tee views at Cypress Lakes are very wide open, but that's not the case at the par four 4th hole.|
We’re talking about the Fayetteville area, perhaps most famous as the home of Fort Bragg and the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, but it’s also where Floyd grew up and cut his golfing teeth. As you’d probably expect, there’s a golf course included in the story, and that brings in Cypress Lakes Golf Course, which has essentially become known as the ‘Home of the Floyds.’
For those familiar with the long drive down I-95 to the ‘big’ golf destinations of Myrtle Beach or Hilton Head in South Carolina (or points even farther south), Fayetteville represents a nice stopping off point – and it’s partly due to its location that the area has become somewhat of a golf destination in and of itself.
Simply put, it’s a good place to ‘warm up’ for your big golf trip, or a place to ‘cool down’ with a little relaxing golf on your way home after spending some time on the links at your ultimate destination of choice. It’s also only about 35 miles east of the ‘Home of Golf’ in Pinehurst as well – so there again is an opportunity to draw players visiting the region.
|A more than generous landing area gives you confidence off the tee of the par four 10th hole.|
Not so coincidentally, Cypress Lakes led the way to Fayetteville’s golf fortune – and once again, it’s linked to the Floyd family. L.B. Floyd was an area teaching professional back in the fifties and sixties, and arguably two of his best pupils were his own children – Raymond, of course, and sister Marlene (the elder Floyd also tutored PGA Tour-regular Chip Beck during his lengthy career).
Both Raymond and Marlene were in the beginning phases of their professional Tour careers as Cypress Lakes was taking shape, but there’s no doubt the Floyd family influence is felt in its very existence. The Floyd name was instrumental in drawing the business to generate the building of a prominent golf facility in the area – and Cypress Lakes was truly the first of its kind in that regard (and Marlene still lives there today – between the 10th green and the 11th tee).
The course opened in 1968 (designed by Stuart Gooden) and began marketing itself as the “Home of the Floyds” – which helped draw players ‘migrating’ south to the aforementioned golf destinations. But Cypress Lakes also became a local favorite. The club’s head golf professional, Robert Wilson, was one of those who learned the game there: “A lot of people got their introduction to golf at Cypress Lakes. This is where I took my first golf lesson forty years ago.”
|Cypress Lakes Golf Course is part of a housing community, but it still maintains very much of a rural parkland feel. Here, the green of the par four 6th hole.|
And although the course winds through a residential community (with 600 home sites positioned back from the course and out of play), it never really loses its rural feel. Cypress Lakes was originally built on 700 acres of land – and with the addition of the residential area, it’s now twice as big. The course serves as a center-point for the community as well, having signed up 120 resident members – and the course now functions as a semi-private facility.
The property’s water features help to maintain the rural quality. A good example is the par five 11th hole, which abuts the residents but still looks like it could be miles from ‘civilization,’ due mostly to the marsh and lake that occupy the left side of the hole from the tee shot landing area until you reach the green. There was even a scarecrow (scaregoose?) dressed in a raincoat near the water – we thought it was a member of the maintenance crew from a distance!
The par three ninth hole also has a very low-country swampy feel to it – with the tee shot needing to fly a large lake with cypress trees jutting out of the water. Making it even more challenging, there’s no bailout on the hole – there’s a road to the left and bunkers in front of the green. It’s hit the green, or face a tough up-and-down (or a drop, of course).
|One of the most beautiful views at Cypress Lakes, the view from the tee of the par four 15th hole.|
These are a couple of the ‘tighter’ holes on the layout, but in general the playing areas are very wide at Cypress Lakes. You’ll also have woodlands framing the holes throughout the course and horse pastures in the distance – it’s safe to say, there’s a little bit of everything bordering this club.
Seeing Cypress Lakes today almost makes you think this is just the way it was way back when – but the owners have also been quite busy ‘changing’ the place, improving it over the course of the past two decades.
Rob Wilson explains: “Since the beginning, we’ve continued to work hard to bring our players the best playing conditions in the Southeast. In 1992, we completely renovated our fairways with Hybrid 419 Bermuda, and then over the summers of 1995 and 1996 we re-contoured and reconstructed all eighteen greens to strict USGA standards with Penn A-4 Bent grass.”
|Both of the par threes on the front nine require water carries - here, the 179-yard 5th hole.|
Wilson points out that a National Bent Grass study showed that A-4 offers the best putting surface available – and it’s hard to argue with the condition of the greens.
Further, to keep things ‘green,’ Cypress Lakes’ irrigation system was completely replaced (a half-million dollars to complete) with a new state-of-the-art system which allows the superintendent to water 100% of the golf playing surfaces. We played the course in early September, and can vouch for its ‘green’ condition, even after a relatively hot, harsh summer.
Cypress Lakes’ owner, Tom Prewitt (son of Al Prewitt, who originally developed the course along with L.B. Floyd), lives on the property and says there’s a personal need to keep things in good shape: “I live here on the golf course, so I would hear about it every day if we didn’t keep it up. We’ve spent the last ten years transforming ourselves into a championship style course.”
|A natural area now comes into play off the tee of the par five 11th hole, making it a three-shot hole for everyone.|
The layout itself isn’t as flashy as some of the newer golf courses being built these days – you won’t find huge bunkers, impossible forced carries over yawning crevices or serene ocean views – but what you will find is a nice parkland-style course with a lot of variety (doglegs in both directions, straight holes, long holes and short holes) that’s in good shape.
Highlight holes (in addition to those mentioned above) include the 437-yard, par four fourth hole, a tough dogleg left that requires a long and accurate drive (with a bit of a draw, if possible) and a mid to long-iron into the green.
The short but uphill par four sixth hole is one of those that’s tougher than it looks – pay attention to the pin position when choosing your club for the second shot, as you’re firing uphill to a green protected by a large bunker to the left.
|Intimidation is the word as you look from the tee of the par three 9th hole.|
On the back nine, in addition to the aforementioned par five eleventh, we enjoyed the par five closing hole, which will definitely challenge you on your second (if you choose to go for it) and/or third shot. The hole doglegs to the left after the tee shot landing area, daring you to try and keep it down the left to save some distance. The approach shot is uphill and well guarded by bunkers and trees – missing short is probably the best option, but could cost you a chance to break par!
One aspect of Cypress Lakes that isn’t immediate from checking out the golf layout is the friendliness of the staff, all of whom seemed to go out of their way to treat customers as not just guests, but friends. “We pride ourselves in being one of the friendliest areas of in the country,” Prewitt said, “and there are things to do here in Fayetteville that people don’t know about.”
It’s something you’d almost expect coming from the ‘Home of the Floyds.’
|Looking back from the par five 18th hole - like many at Cypress Lakes, it requires a strategy on the best way to play it from tee to green.|
Where We Stayed
On our most recent visit to North Carolina, we decided to stay a bit off the beaten path at a place that we knew would be convenient to all the golf courses we were going to play, would provide plenty of room for our group (which included kids), some peace and quiet, and most importantly, all the comforts of home.
For that reason, we chose The Condos at The Pit (which was also one of the golf courses we played), located just south of the Village of Pinehurst and close enough to the area’s amenities -- yet far enough ‘away’ to make it feel like a real vacation spot (it’s about an hour drive to Cypress Lakes).
|The Pit condos offer a full kitchen -- very convenient.|
The Pit Condos are all located on the Pit Golf Course’s par three seventh hole, and are within walking distance to the clubhouse. These two and three-bedroom condos sleep two per bedroom (for golf groups) with two queen beds per room.
Each condo has a fully equipped kitchen with stainless steel appliances, flat panel TV in the den with VCR/DVD player, a TV in each bedroom, digital phone for free long distance, free high speed internet connection, full size washer & dryer, linens, towels, and a balcony with outdoor seating.
We took advantage of the balcony to enjoy the pleasant early fall evenings – highly recommended! The kitchen facilities also helped us manage meal-time in a convenient, budget-conscious way.
For condo rentals or golf packages, please contact Maples Golf Packages at 800-889-5323 or visit www.MaplesGolf.com.
Cypress Lakes Golf Course
Hope Mills, NC
Course architect: Stuart Gooden
Head Golf Professional: Robert Wilson, PGA
Superintendent: Ed Drake
Championship: 6943 131/73.3
White: 6346 124/70.5
Yellow: 5873 117/68.2
Red: 5272 119/70.4
Spring and Fall Rates range from $39 weekdays to $44 on weekends. Summer and Winter Rates range from $31 on weekdays to $34 on weekends. These prices include greens fee, cart, and taxes. Membership packages are available for Singles and Families, Business Weekday passes, and Student passes.
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