Craft Farms Golf Resort - Cypress Bend Course Review

Texas Outside Rating: 8.8

Golf - Public Course · 18 Holes · Par 72
Gulf Shores, AL
· Stay & Play

Dsc_1260 Dsc_1281 Dsc_1263

Craft Farms Golf Resort - Cypress Bend Course Review

Review and Rating of Craft Farms Golf Resort Cypress Bend Course in Gulf Shores Alabama

In 1987,  R.C. Craft - a self-made man with a turf farm - convinced Arnold Palmer - a self-made mega famous golf tycoon - to build a golf course on a flat sod farm in the middle of nowhere and shortly thereafter Craft Farms' Cotton Creek Golf Course opened for play.  In, fact, Craft Farms is essentially how Gulf Shores originally became known as a great golf destination.

In 1993 the front nine of Cypress Bend opened for play with the back nines opening in 1998.  Since it's opening Craft Farms has received a number of awards and accolades, some of which include:

  • Voted Best in Alabama by readers of Golf World
  • Cypress Bend received Golf Digest's 4 ½ stars and Best Places to Play
  • Cotton Creek was rated 4 stars and Best Places to Play by Golf Digest
  • Won the People’s Choice Award as Best Golf Course
  • Awarded America's Top Golf Courses

Each of the Arnold Palmer signature courses at Craft Farms has its own unique personality and characteristics but common to both are lush conditions, immaculate greens, a fantastic plantation style clubhouse with a great restaurant and well stocked pro shop, and first class service.  The differences between the two courses include:

  • Cypress Bend is more open with a resort links style look and feel with wide fairways, vast landing areas, sprawling bunkers, and large undulating greens - as such it is more player friendly but also has more sand and water to keep you focused
  • Cotton Creek is longer and a more traditional and straightforward 18 holes with tight tree lined fairways, dog legs, smaller greens, risk reward opportunities, and a coastal feel as it traverses a unique system of cord-grass accented lakes which come into play on nearly every hole - all which makes this 18 harder by 2 to 3 strokes (rating of 133 versus 123) - read our review of Cotton Creek to learn more

Some of what makes playing Cypress Bend fun, scenic, somewhat challenging, and enjoyable includes: 

  • 59 huge white sand bunkers strategically placed in the fairways as well as protecting the greens
  • two fantastic par 3's on the front nine that are scenic and demanding
  • near perfect conditions from tee to pin
  • wide forgiving fairways where you can generally bring out the big dog and let-er-rip - you really need to spray the ball to get in trouble
  • greens that are in perfect condition, large, roll at a good speed, and have just the right amount of slope and undulation to keep you focused
  • fair rates and I saved a fortune by not loosing a single ball - which could be a new record, but I also didn't find any new balls to replace previous losses
  • some fun holes including a couple great risk reward opportunities and enough water (17 holes where it can, if you spray it, come into play) to make you pay attention to club selection and course management
  • a fair, but slightly demanding (slope of 71.8 and rating of 123 from the tips) 18 where you can have a fun, relaxing, low scoring, and enjoyable round

The wide forgiving fairways make Cypress Bend feel like a links style course. In fact, Arnold must have moved a lot of dirt and sand to create the raised greens and tall sweeping mounds/dunes that line most of the fairways, and to sculpt the rolling contoured fairways that at times seem like a small roller coaster ride.  When we played Cypress Bend the fairways were in perfect condition as were the playable roughs.  The contrast of the three colors of green from the fairways, greens, fringe, and rough coupled with the white sand bunkers is awe inspiring - particularly after playing the record heat and drought starved brownish fairways in Texas.

The greens at Craft Farms Cypress Bend Course were also in near perfect condition and most are huge and a variety of different shapes.  They were soft and ran true and were rolling at a good speed.  Most had some slope and undulation including tiers but nothing that was tough enough to cause a lot of three putts. 

The white sand bunkers range in size and shape with most on the large side.  The sand is soft, fluffy, and thick and lips are manageable.  But there are a lot of them in both the fairways and guarding the greens.

Craft Farms is currently owned and operated by Honours Golf Company which is the leading boutique golf course and club management company in the Southeast with a portfolio of excellent courses and a reputation for excellent conditions and service.  

Dsc_1258 Dsc_1262 Dsc_1279

Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Black 6,848 71.8 123
Blue 5,975 67.5 113
White 5,458 65.7 107
Gold 6,432 69.8 119
Red 5,027 68.3 113

Course Information

Course Architect:
Arnold Palmer
Greens Type:
Greens Condition
Greens Difficulty
Fairway Condition
Bunker Condition
Course Map
Beware of water on 17 holes and the 59 sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

Overall Rating:
8.8 out of 10
Fun to Play:
Front Nine Rating:
Back Nine Rating:


Approximate Weekend
$49.00 to $89.00

The Clubhouse and Pro Shop has a southern plantation look and feel, the pro shop is well stocked, and the restaurant has some very tasty food. Practice facilities are very good and service is excellent - friendly and outgoing



Here's How Texas Outside Determines the Scorecard Rating

The Texas Outside rating scale ranges from 1 to 10 – a perfect 10 course would be something like this:  links along a cliff overlooking the Pacific ocean and bordered by tall trees; lush fairways on rolling hills with lots of natural hazards; water (which is crystal clear) on most of the holes; immaculate greens (but they are undulating and tough); lots of variety and character (each hole is completely different and includes blind shots, elevation changes, doglegs, and significant challenges); perfectly manicured traps with the whitest and prettiest sand you’ve ever seen; a nice club house with great food and a 19th hole; a GPS; plenty of beverage carts or your own cooler and ice; and it only costs $40 bucks! What this means is that you probably won’t find any 10s in Texas – try Cabo San Lucas, Pebble Beach, or some of the Hawaii courses! 
Texas Outside rates courses on the following:

  • Beauty – tall trees, rolling hills, beautiful houses, waterfalls, and similar stuff would score high; a 1 would be flat, bushes or cactus instead of trees, and some grass but mostly weeds
  • Difficulty – a straight, 300 yard par 4 with no traps or hazards, no out of bounds or water would probably get a 1; if it is a 460 yard par 4 over two ravines, with water along one side, natural hazards on the other, strategically placed traps or that dreaded tree right in the middle of the fairway, we are talking a 10. 
  • Variety – what would you give a course where all the holes looked and played exactly the same (“I thought we just played that hole!”); were side-by-side, which is good for finding or dodging other people’s balls, but not much fun; and you can see the flag from every tee box?  That’s right, it gets a 1.
  • Fun Scale – a 10 is where you walk off the course and say “now that was fun” and you can’t wait to get back, or you immediately turn around and play another 18 holes
  • Value – a 5 is $50 to $60, a 10 is $20 to $30, and 1 is $200 or so – of course all of this is dependent upon how you liked the course.  For example, if a run down, boring municipal course, with six players on each hole was only $10; it would still get a value rating of 1.
  • Condition – this one’s pretty easy – what condition are the fairways. A 10 commands very lush perfectly manicured fairways, compared to a 1, which has fire ants, weeds, and more dirt than grass!
  • Condition of Greens and Difficulty – very hard to read greens with lots of undulation and tough pin placement, rate very high on the difficulty scale.  Condition is self-explanatory.  

All of the above determines the overall score for the golf course.  In other words, we like courses that are pretty, fun, very challenging with a lot of variety, and fairways and greens in excellent condition – all for $40.  We also tend to play the courses that are affordable for the masses, which means in the $30 to $80 range. We rate hard and we haven’t found a 10 in Texas yet – don’t worry we haven’t given up and we’re still looking.