I’m not a golf course architecture junkie. Never have been and you’ll never hear me proclaim to be. I’ve always been more focused on what’s going on in the golf swing than the actual course around me, strange as it sounds, and I’ve under-appreciated plenty of what I’m sure are fascinating green complexes over the years. All this is a long way of saying that you should take my following statement with a grain of salt: That when people ask me what Cypress Point Club is like, I respond by saying it’s simply not possible for any golf course to be any better.
I was lucky to get a tee time. Darting down the East Coast for a golf/bachelor trip, my best friend (who doubled as my best man), called in the mother of all connections to get us a round. We were the first group out, and it was a truly unbelievable experience.
Here’s what I learned along the way.
1. You go for the golf, and that’s it
Cypress Point doesn’t have a big, fancy clubhouse. Or a big, fancy restaurant. Or a big, fancy entrance leading to a state-of-the-art learning center equipped with the latest and greatest technology. It’s about the golf, and that’s it. It’s refreshing and wonderful. Everything is stripped back to the essentials, because only then can you truly appreciate the game in its purest form.
2. It’s trousers only
I showed up wearing shorts and needed to do a quick change before my tee time. Not my finest moment, but a valuable lesson learned and some wisdom I can impart on all of you.
3. It’s got serious Augusta National vibes
The course is like a story, or a good song. You get a glimpse of the ocean to start, then work your way into the pines. The course changes along the way, and always whispers in your ear to let you know how far you are from the ocean. Ocean cliffs slowly turn to dunes which slowly transition to pines. Halfway through the round is peak Augusta National. The holes are austere and brilliant, but in a wholly different way than you are about to experience. As the process begins reversing — from pines to dunes to cliffs — you feel the rhythm gearing up. You get a glimpse of what’s to come on the 14th, before the trees part and the song of the course finally erupts in chorus as you’re unveiled over the Pacific.
4. Savor the final holes
When we finally got to the 15th hole and began hitting from cliff to cliff with the ocean waves crashing in the background, my playing partner turned to me and said this is probably the most beautiful piece of land he’s ever stood on — golf course or no golf course. It’s true, so when you finally get there, truly, take time to savor it. That doesn’t mean play slowly, but it does mean to keep your head up. Look around for details you’ll be able to remember, because you may never be there again. It’s hard to understate how awe-inspiring those final holes are.
5. Go for it on the 16th, but club up
Look, if you literally can’t reach the green, don’t go for it. There’s a bail out option to the left. But if you can, it doesn’t matter what club you need to use to get there: go for it. Even if it means pulling a driver on a par-3: Go for it. Club up just to be sure, because there’s more room for error long than there is short, and pause for an extra moment at the top of your backswing. I smashed a 4-wood that landed on the front fringe and two-putted for par. It wasn’t the best contact ever, but it’s the shot I remember the most.
6. Prepare yourself for the 18th
People are far too harsh about Cypress’ admittedly underwhelming 18th hole. It’s the worst hole on the course, sure, but I’d push back against the assertion that it’s a bad hole. It’s a short, tight, quirky hole that feels worse because people play it after coming off the most magnificent stretch of holes on the planet. They’re grumpy — sad that the round is basically over, sad they have to turn their backs on the ocean and walk away. Obsessing over the flaws of the 18th hole is classic perfection-is-the-enemy-of-the-good stuff. Know going in that it’s not the best hole in the world, and you’ll enjoy everything more.
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