Many of the greatest golf courses around the world are designed by some of the best players from previous generations. When you have the opportunity to play one of Arnold Palmer’s plethora of course designs, you will quickly realize why this is such an amazing experience. Craft Farms Golf Resort along the Gulf Coast of Alabama may not be the first place you think about visiting, or even associating with Arnold Palmer but after playing this recently, we 100% attest that this is a hidden gem that you will quickly fall in love with.
From Jack Nicklaus to Gary Player, Greg Norman to Ernie Els, the list of greats to now have their design imprint on epic courses is endless. However, there is one player that frequently stands head and shoulders above the rest, not only in terms of his design elements but also because of the legacy he left on this game – the great Arnold Palmer.
Palmer’s influence on golf goes way beyond the seven major championships that he won or additional 55 PGA tour wins. In fact, the reason why Palmer is recognized globally as “The King” is predominantly because of his attitude, his demeanor on and off course and most importantly, his desire to nurture others in the game of golf and also through life.
Let’s take a look at what helps Craft Farms Golf Resort stand out from the rest of the amazing golf courses on the Gulf Coast – for those of you that have never visited this stretch of breathtaking coastline of Alabama, you are in for a real treat when it comes to a myriad of amazing courses to choose from.
Craft Farms – Arnie’s Inspiration
Take a trip down memory lane when you drive into Craft Farms Golf Resort as you begin to imagine the great Arnold Palmer showcasing his design skills across both sets of 18 hole courses on site. Whether you prefer Scottish style links courses or stereotypical US parkland style courses, the beauty of Craft Farms is that you can experience both with 36 epic holes to play.
For the adventurous golfers, you may be inspired to play both courses on the same day whereas the realistic may choose to play each course on separate days.
Located just minutes away from the 32 miles of pristine, white sandy beaches of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, you can certainly enjoy the fresh Gulf breeze blowing across both courses as you meander your way through “beautiful southern landscape of south Alabama among massive live oaks dripping with Spanish moss, towering pine forests, numerous lakes, creeks and native wildlife.” (Craft Farms Golf Resort)
The story of Craft Farms is actually more than just about Arnold Palmer.
A former farm boy who worked his way up from gladiolus farm toiler to successful businessman, and who had a vision of transforming a sleepy coastal Alabama town into a world-class golf destination.Craft Farms Golf Resort
This “farm boy” was R.C. Craft who was raised in a small town in Georgia. Craft moved south to Florida before venturing to the Gulf Coast of Alabama in 1954 and in the late 1960s actually purchased a plot of land that contained corn and soybean fields. This area would later become the site of Craft Farms Golf Resort!
While the farming business saw a decline over subsequent decades, the Crafts decided to venture into the world of golf course construction but realized they needed someone to oversee the design of this course. Enter the great Arnold Palmer! It was perfect timing as Palmer’s Management business was looking to make a breakthrough in golf course design and once Palmer set foot on the Gulf Coast, it was a match made in heaven.
While Palmer was brought in to oversee the design of the course, it was intriguing to see how Palmer appeared to show more interest in Craft’s sodding business, even showing a willingness to hop on a tractor and help out…when it came to the design of Craft Farms, that was pretty much a done deal after the relationship between Palmer and Craft flourished!
What also makes Craft Farms Golf Resort so unique is the fact that they are the only two courses in the state of Alabama designed by the great Arnold Palmer – definitely a claim to fame when you visit this sacred location.
Two Unique Courses – 36 Crafted Holes
Craft Farms is home to both Cotton Creek and Cypress Bend golf courses. Both offer a spectacular golfing experience and are unique in their design characteristics that help them both attract golfers from all across the globe. As you play both courses, you cannot help but relax among the breathtaking natural paradise and environment that they have been designed on.
Although both courses are still relatively new (Cotton Creek opened in 1987 and Cypress Bend in 1993) in terms of golf course construction, the plethora of eco-systems that can be found across both are what help them evolve into such a spectacular experience for golfers of all standards.
A visit to Craft Farms is more than just about a round of golf. It’s about playing 36 holes that were designed by a legend of the game while also appreciating the inherent beauty of this part of Alabama. You could be forgiven for thinking a trip to the Gulf Coast is all about the beach, but when you see a natural landscape like Craft Farms, you will quickly realize it’s much more than that!
Here are the details of the two courses before we dive in and review each of them:
Cotton Creek Course Par 72 Year Opened: 1987 Yardage: Gold Tees - 7127 Yards; Blue Tees - 6617 Yards; White Tees - 6080 Yards; Silver Tees - 5438 Yards; Red Tees - 5160 Yards
Cypress Bend Course Par 72 Year Opened: 1993 Yardage: Gold Tees - 6848 Yards; Blue Tees - 6432 Yards; White Tees - 5975 Yards; Silver Tees - 5458 Yards; Red Tees - 5027 Yards
Cotton Creek Course
Head over to Cotton Creek if you are ready to face the more challenging of the two courses at Craft Farms Golf Resort. With rolling fairways and undulating greens (some rather severe that will test even the best putters in the world!), Cotton Creek is undoubtedly a true test of championship style golf for every standard of golfer.
As you play this course, you quickly realize that this is a true Arnold Palmer design, infamous for those risk/reward holes where you may play safe or be tempted to go for the “shot of a lifetime” while running the risk of running up a big score.
With a myriad of water hazards that line fairways and protect greens, it’s perhaps the 6th hole that is the focal point at Cotton Creek as you are faced with a daunting tee shot with water lining the right side of the fairway, yet the second shot isn’t any easier as the green is protected by the same water.
Cypress Bend Course
For those of you looking at a slightly friendlier layout, Cypress Bend is perhaps the best choice at Craft Farms. However, don’t let the generously wide fairways fool you because this is still a challenging layout and and experience every golfer will surely enjoy. With a slightly more coastal feel to the layout than it’s counterpart at Cotton Creek, Cypress Bend offers large greens along with those generous fairways to entice golfers to think this will be an easy course.
While the 4th hole at Cypress Bend has a reputation of being the most difficult on the course, there are plenty of holes that you will likely be thinking about making birdies to offset the potential for a bogey or two on both nines. Several lakes accent the course and offer a challenge for every golfer as you look to plot your way around a course that has a links style feel to it.
Cotton Creek Bar and Grill
After 36 holes at Craft Farms, you could be forgiven for being ready to head to the 19th hole and experience a couple of aperitifs and a delicious meal at Cotton Creek Bar and Grill. Located inside the gorgeous clubhouse, this restaurant is the perfect place to grab a bite to eat while overlooking the 18th green of the Cotton Creek course.
Homemade chicken salad is perhaps the highlight experience if you are just looking to sample some light fare following your round, while the Shrimp and Grits is a true southern favorite that you cannot go wrong with. With a plethora of options to choose from to satisfy everyone’s appetite, you can be sure there will be something at Cotton Creek Bar and Grill for all the family to enjoy.
A visit to Craft Farms Golf Resort is more than just about a round of golf – it’s about visiting a location that one of the world’s greatest golfers and legends has left his unique design characteristics on. Arnold Palmer is not only one of the greatest golfers of all time, he is also recognized as one of the most likable individuals in the golfing industry.
To pay a fitting tribute to this legend, we strongly encourage you to visit the Gulf Coast and sample his amazing designs at Craft Farms – you won’t regret it because this is a truly incredible experience.