Nicklaus-designed South, East and North golf courses at Grand Cypress complement stellar New Course

By Jeff Berlinicke, Contributor

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Grand Cypress Golf Club is one of the most family-friendly resorts you'll find, so the non-golfers in the family will have plenty to do.

Grand Cypress Resort - North Course - 6th
The North Course at Grand Cypress Resort is packed with terraced fairways with tall mounds.
Grand Cypress Resort - North Course - 6thGrand Cypress Resort - East Course - 5thGrand Cypress Resort - South Course - 6th

But the 45 holes on these immaculately maintained courses are something special, too.

There are three nine-hole layouts -- the South Course, East Course and North Course -- as well as the monster New Course, an 18-hole track that is getting rave reviews. Jack Nicklaus designed all of the holes, and it shows. There are plenty of mounds, tough greens to hit on the approach and tee shots that need to be long and in the fairway.

The South Course, which plays to 3,472 yards for its nine holes, is usually the front nine, even though it is not the easiest. In fact, none of the nines are very easy. After playing the first nine, most guests either head back to the family or play one of the other nines. All three of the nine-hole courses can be played in a day, but if you come down with the family, there is a lot going on nearby. Walt Disney World, Sea World and Universal Studios are all within 10 minutes of Grand Cypress, so prepare for a long day of golf and family fun.

(A few warnings: With three nine-hole courses that are pretty much intertwined, keep an eye on directional signs or you can find yourself playing the wrong nine. Also, all three of the nine-hole courses are listed on the same scorecard, so double check when looking at the yardage before hitting.)

Grand Cypress Golf Club: South Course

The South Course starts with a benign dogleg par 4 that requires a left-to-right tee shot. There are plenty of bunkers on the left side of the green, so don't get cocky on the approach.

The second is a 510-yard par 5 that is reachable in two, but there is water the entire way down the right side with more water waiting in front of the green. If you feel comfortable with the hybrid or 3-wood, take a chance, but there's more water behind the green.

Grand Cypress Golf Club: East Course

The East Course is the shortest, but Tournament Director Robert Scott said it might be the toughest of the three.

"It is shorter," Scott said. "But there is more water and more trees than any of the other ones. It's a real challenge, so don't look at the yardage. This is the one where you have to keep it straight more than any of the others."

The East Course plays to 3,434 from the tips. With more water and the tighter fairways, it is a great way to end an 18-hole round, combining it with the South or the North -- or both.

If you can get past the first three holes on the East Course, it gets a little bit easier until the ninth. The opening hole on the East is only 404 yards from the tips, but it is a dogleg left with water coming into play all the way down the right side. With a tight fairway, it's one of the most difficult tee shots at Grand Cypress.

Most of the drives on the East Course make you work your way around doglegs, so be ready to hit a draw or a fade if you want to go low. This is a course that requires lots of guts, so make sure you check the scorecard so you can shape your second shot. Otherwise, be satisfied with playing bogey golf.

You might want to keep the driver in the bag and go with the 3-wood. The course isn't long enough that you need to blast drivers off the tee, and if you can shape your tee shots, you can do just as well. The greens are undulating, so the approach makes all the difference.

Grand Cypress Golf Club: North Course

The North Course plays to 3,521 yards and is packed with terraced fairways with tall mounds that encourage anyone who can't keep it in the fairway to put the driver away, just like on the other Grand Cypress courses.

It might not be the most challenging of the three nines, but the greens on the North Course are the most undulating. Reaching the green in regulation does not guarantee par. Just like the other nines at Grand Cypress, it is tough to go low on the North.

Grand Cypress Golf Club's South, East and North Courses: The verdict

All three of the nines at Grand Cypress are distinct, and if you have time for 27 holes in one day, take advantage of it. The courses are in great condition, but don't be afraid to add an extra club or two. You'll need them all.

Jeff BerlinickeJeff Berlinicke, Contributor

Jeff Berlinicke is a golf writer based in Tampa, Fla. He writes for multiple publications including the Tampa Tribune, Golf Fitness Magazine, and the Associated Press. He has also received multiple honors from the Florida Press Association.

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