Two men golfing at Craft Farms Golf Resort in Gulf Shores, AL

Craft Farms Golf Resort – An Inspirational Design by Arnold Palmer

Playing golf courses around the world that are designed by legends of the game is the ultimate privilege for any aspiring golfer.

From Jack Nicklaus to Robert Trent Jones, the list of course designers are endless but there is one golfer that frequently stands head and shoulders above the rest in terms of popularity – the late Arnold Palmer.

Golfers visiting the Alabama Gulf Coast may not think about associating this stretch of coastline with a golfing great like Palmer, but when you arrive at Craft Farms Golf Resort you are undoubtedly stepping on treasured ground given that the two courses are the only ones in Alabama designed by “The King.”

Craft Farms Golf Resort in Gulf Shores, AL
The Craft Family & Arnold Palmer – Match Made in Heaven

Both the Cotton Creek Course and Cypress Bend Course are two of the most popular spots in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, and certainly for very good reason. But I would argue that even if you are not a golfer, you have likely heard about Arnold Palmer and it’s a fitting tribute to visit this location and admire the breathtaking landscape. Inevitably, as you play either (or both) course, you will catch a glimpse of the intricate details that epitomize Arnold Palmer.

Palmer’s influence goes well beyond the design of the golf course. His inherent ability to be such a popular figure among locals is certainly true when you hear the story about the Craft family moving to the Gulf Coast and deciding to reach out to the “start-up” Palmer Management organization that was looking to get into the golf course design business. 

After arriving at Jack Edwards Airport, it was a match made in heaven between Palmer and Craft and well, the rest is history as today, we can see a true, fitting tribute to this inspiring figurehead.

Experience 36 Epic Holes of Golf

While the history of Craft Farms is one of the main reasons why you should be encouraged to visit, the golf courses are two of the best in the region and certainly will provide a stern test for every standard of golfer. The novice player may opt to head over to Cypress Bend, as this is frequently recognized as the easier and “perfect complement to its big sister” over at Cotton Creek.

Craft Farms offers two distinctive courses that are the ideal place to visit all year round. Large, undulating greens are typical on both courses while Cypress Bend is renowned as the easier course, primarily because of the generous fairways that are always kept in pristine condition.

Hole #2 at Craft Farms Golf Resort on the Alabama Gulf Coast

Similar to other courses in the area that typifies golf on the Gulf Coast, Cypress Bend has a very links-style feel to it but there are ample accented lakes scattered around the course that add another tricky dimension to the golfing experience. While many courses generally have a signature hole, the beauty of Cypress Bend is that Palmer left his influence on each carefully crafted design. Whether you are standing on the 6th tee box contemplating which iron to hit in order to hit the undulating green surrounded by bunkers, or perhaps considering an aggressive second shot on the 13th to reach this intimidating par-5 in two, there is a challenge waiting for you on every hole.

Over at Cotton Creek, this course epitomizes the ultimate golfing challenge. It’s certainly not for the faint-hearted and it’s no surprise that this is frequently voted as one of the best places to play by Golf Digest. The tree-lined, narrow fairways make it imperative that you are accurate with your tee shots and while a good day with the driver may allow you to hit solid approach shots into the greens, by the time you arrive on the putting surface you are faced with yet another daunting task given the severe slopes on many of them.

Remember “The King”

Strolling along the fairways at Craft Farms, taking in the gorgeous surrounding and myriad of ecosystems that are thriving in this landscape, don’t forget to pay tribute to the individual that had such an influence on not only the design of this course, but also in the world of golf. In fact, Arnold Palmer was such a popular figure even outside of golf that it is a true honor to play a course that he so meticulously designed.

Following your round on either course, head inside the gorgeous clubhouse overlooking the 18th green and enjoy a bite to eat at Cotton Creek Bar & Grill – while Arnie didn’t have too much influence on the menu, I am sure he would be delighted by the delicious Southern fare available here.

5 Tips for Visiting Craft Farms

  1. If you really want the ultimate test in golf and challenge yourself, play Cotton Creek from the “tips” and enjoy 7,127 yards that will certainly test the very best.
  2. Looking for some tips before playing Craft Farms? Enjoy a private lesson with Kristi Jenkins, an award-winning PGA & LPGA golf instructor that has 20+ years of experience.
  3. Be sure to read the full story of R.C. Craft and Arnold Palmer and how this partnership evolved before playing Craft Farms – you will have a much greater appreciation of the course!
  4. Consider heading to Craft Farms after 2PM to enjoy the “twilight” rate or perhaps you want a full day on the course, so take advantage of the “Play All Day” rates that are available.
  5. To follow Arnold Palmer’s philosophy, Craft Farms is proud to inspire youngsters to play golf – juniors (17 and under) can play for FREE when playing with an adult paying full price! 


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