Clearwater, FL

Cliff Stephens Park

3.925(based on 71 reviews)
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9 0
dino2disc
Silver level trusted reviewer
Experience: 24.5 years 72 played 39 reviews
4.50 star(s)

A bucket list must play course 2+ years

Reviewed: Played on:Dec 24, 2021 Played the course:5+ times

Pros:

- Add Cliff Stephens to your must-play list because it's a one of a kind! The challenges are incredibly daunting at times, but if you can navigate them this will be a course you won't forget. And the 2019-2020 addition of an extra-long Gold layout with new tees and baskets just upped the ante on an already very challenging course.

Since there hasn't been a detailed update since the Gold layout was installed, I've decided to give it a detailed hole-by-hole breakdown. But first, some of the (numerous) pros of Cliff Stephens:

- Long concrete tees and new-ish Discatcher baskets on nearly every hole (just a couple old-style Discatchers on the 19-24 loop).
- Most holes have 2 baskets and 2 tee options, and some even have 3 tee options. That equates to a lot of ways to play your round, and it nicely accommodates groups of varied experience levels.
- There's a practice basket by the first tee.
- For those who care about such things, Cliff Stephens is the home course of Ken Climo, the all-time winningest champion of the PDGA World Championships (there's a sign commemorating him at the 16th tee).

Ok, now for hole by hole:
#1 - a long straight hole with 3 tees and 2 baskets, with the Gold layout (to the yellow basket) being a whopping 1,012ft par 5! Water to the right of the short basket and along most of the hole if you go to the yellow basket.
#2 - straight slight downhill into trees near the parking lot, with 2 tees and 2 baskets. Yellow basket is right next to the cars, so please don't go long.
#3 - a tough valley cross with 2 baskets that are both positioned at the top of a hill that steeply descends to the left down into a murky channel. You've got 3 tee options, with two wide trees directly in your way from the short tee, the channel to your left from the long tee, and a low ceiling of tree branches to add extra difficulty from the Gold tee. A signature hole guaranteed to strike fear, eat discs, and be fun.
#4 - 1 tee and 2 baskets. Playing to the short one is a straight layout with a steep dropoff into the water along the left side the entire way. The yellow basket is significantly further along the sidewalk to the right, still with water to the left the whole way. So, don't go left!
#5 - an open beginning from either of 2 tees, with 3 potential basket positions. Water to the left and long of the usual basket positions straight ahead of you, and position C places the basket in a wreath of low-hanging oak branches with water behind it. No matter the basket position, a controlled approach shot is essential.
#6 - 2 tees each play straight ahead to 2 potential basket positions, both down in the winding gully behind a row of palm trees. A lucky tee shot through the palms could present you with a birdie opportunity.
#7 - straight hole from the 1 tee to 2 potential basket positions, with a line of trees defining the right edge of the fairway. The slope drops immediately down to the pond behind the long basket position, so be careful to not go long.
#8 - from either of the 2 tees it's a a long water carry or left dogleg to the 1 basket with water all along the left. Potentially reachable basket from either tee for a birdie look if you dare to throw hard off the tee. A fun test of your nerve.
#9 - easiest hole on the course: a valley cross to 1 basket positioned just above a short wood wall. There's 3 tees, with the hole being reachable from the shorter two. The new Gold tee crosses over a pedestrian bridge and through a narrow woods tunnel into the valley to start. Beware that the valley can flood after heavy rains.
#10 - from all 3 tees you face a daunting, ~300ft water cross to 2 potential basket positions on the other side. From the shorter tees you could bail out right, but from the Gold tee your only option is a bomb over the pond. I still remember the first time I decided to go for it and successfully crossed the pond... the kind of moment you celebrate as you feel you've finally "made it" as a skilled disc golfer! In short, it's a test of your distance.
#11 - a slight right-turning hole with water at your far left, with the 1 basket positioned just on the far side of a narrow gully that's usually dry. 2 tee options.
#12 - the 2 tees and 2 baskets on this monster play very differently: from the short tee to the short basket would be a plain par 3 light woods hole with water behind the basket, but playing the Gold tee to the yellow basket par 4 makes for a nearly 700ft monster requiring a moderate water cross off the tee and then carrying over or skirting along the left side of another pond with your next couple throws. A low ceiling of trees in the fairway limits your height and distance to boot. Tough but fun.
#13 - again you have 2 tees and 2 baskets. The short basket is reachable either through a narrow tunnel under a large oak tree or by skying a high left-turning shot over the road to your right. The yellow basket is twice as far away, making for a modest length par 5 that crosses the road, with the terrain sloping down to the pond at the right and back sides of the basket. Control your approach landing well to keep it from rolling into the water.
#14 - long and straight with a deep channel all along the right from either of the 2 tees. There's 2 baskets, with the yellow one about 40ft past the foot bridge. The channel is a dangerous disc-eater in windy conditions.
#15 - basket used to be by the water (still an alternative placement there?), but now it's just a straight shot into the woods from the 1 tee to either of the 2 baskets.
#16 - one of the most intimidating signature holes anywhere! From the long tee you've got a double water carry to either of the 2 basket positions, and from the short tee you're faced with a steep slope down to the water all along the left side of the hole. Shortcut is to place your tee shot on the 'island' and then throw over the second channel from there. It's almost unplayable in the wind, and new players will likely skip it all together.
#17 - a straight hole paralleling the paved trail through the woods from either of the 2 tees to the 1 basket.
#18 - long and mostly open from any of the 3 tees, with water at your right as you approach the basket and dense brush on the left side of the railroad where discs often carry in the wind. Requires multiple bomb shots in a row.
#19 - a 15ft-wide flat tunnel with thick tall grass and a disc-eating stream along the entire left side of the hole. Worst hole of the entire course by far. 2 tees and 1 basket.
#20 - 1 tee and 1 basket, with dense undergrowth along the left of the fairway. Slightly right-turning dogleg.
#21 - a great short wooded hole from 1 tee to 1 basket with the basket just on the far side of a narrow creek. Best hole of the #19-24 loop.
#22 - a short wooded hole from 1 tee to 1 basket. A ridge and downed tree in the fairway provide subtle obstacles.
#23 - a right dogleg from the 1 tee to the 1 basket that parallels the highway next to it. A very standard par 3.
#24 - another straight wooded hole paralleling the paved trail. The 1 tee is still dirt, and it has an old-style basket.
#25 - hole A, supposedly with 2 tees. The long tee is a rubber mat in the woods just behind the 16th basket and the short is supposedly in the grass by the pond (it's unlabeled). Either way you play to the 1 basket on the "island" peninsula with water on all sides. Like #16, almost unplayable in the wind. A fun challenge that seriously tests your control.

Cons:

It's not a perfect 5 start course for four reasons:
1 - Parking. Nowhere near enough of it in the little lot, and the yellow basket for #2 is way too close to the lot (like 15ft from parking spaces). Don't park near that basket unless you like dented door panels. Many people now pull over the curb to park in the grass flat between the paved lot and Fairwood Ave. and no one seems to care, but not all cars can handle the curb.
2 - Always busy. Cliff Stephens is deservedly popular, but that means no matter what day of the week or time you go you're bound to find at least half a dozen groups playing here. And it's a very long course (nearly 2 miles just for the hole lengths if you play the Gold layout!) which has many holes paralleling and crossing sidewalks and the Bay To Shore Trail, so if you're looking for a quick play or a fast solo round this course will not suit you. Even if there are no other disc golfers on the course, you will still end up waiting for pedestrians and bicyclists a couple times.
3 - Tee signs. A lot of the sign panels on the back 9 have decayed away, and even where they're present they're all years out of date. For example, none of the new Gold hole layouts are shown on the tee signs. New tee signs are desperately needed, even if just one set is installed at the normal 'long' (non-Gold) tees. In this same vein, there's no up-to-date course map out there anywhere that I can find. It would be awesome if a new map could be installed on the covered sign by the practice basket.
4 - Disc risk. How many 25-hole courses only have 6 holes WITHOUT water hazards?!?! Cliff Stephens will teach you to not rely on a single disc, force you to learn how to break in new discs, and you'll learn how to 'know' your discs' flight paths so you know how to throw them to avoid hazards. So, maybe this "con" is actually a "pro", depending on your perspective. At any rate, so many discs go in the water here that I consistently see people swimming in the ponds for discs every Monday morning...
- Also, hole #19 is the only truly bad hole of the whole course. It's clearly a filler that was needed to connect the main 18 to the rest of the woods loop holes 20-24.

Other Thoughts:

- My opinions might be a bit biased as this is my home course where I learned the game, but believe me when I say from more than 20 years playing here that Cliff Stephens just keeps getting better and better over time.

- Most holes in the #19-24 and hole A loop don't really add much to your round, so most players just skip them. Hole A is an awesome, and daunting, island hole worth the extra walking though!

- Even after playing dozens of other courses across the nation it remains obvious how uniquely fun, beautiful, and challenging this course is. It's THE quintessential, classic Florida course that really brings the 'golf' aspect to disc golf. PLAY IT!!
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9 0
MrFrosty
Diamond level trusted reviewer
Experience: 30.9 years 764 played 386 reviews
4.00 star(s)

You " Have To Play " Climo's Home Course 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Played on:Oct 18, 2019 Played the course:once

Pros:

I pulled into this busy park at 7:40 on a Friday morning , just as daylight was trying to overtake the night . The park was an easy find , just off of RT. 19 with a big sign saying Cliff Stephens Park Disc Golf . As I sat in my car , I could already see walkers treading their miles on the cement paths . I wanted to get on this course before the locals overtook it , and I was glad I did . by the time I was done with the first 9 , there were 30 people on the course , On a Friday . And it was only about 8:30 ! The course starts on the left of the adequate sized parking lot here . There is a kiosk with a map of the course . A Port O Let was nearby from the #2 basket . The signs are excellent , with Hole # , par , distance , and actual pictures of the pins . There are some Next Tee signs that help wit navigation The cement tees ( 2 on most holes ) are large and grip well .There are multiple pin positions and in many cases multiple baskets . Some are yellow , but the main ones are green Discatchers . The amenities are good here , too . Benches and trash cans throughout this course . Plenty of holes here to play . The DGR face page says 25 , but I was only able to play 22 this day .The course splits , as 1/9 play on the parking side of the street that you came in on , and 10-25 makes you cross to the other side . The course is very picturesque , with it's water , large oaks with low hanging branches and Spanish moss hanging from them . I won't explain hole to hole , but I will give highlights . Beware of #1 . Great starter hole at 425' from the long tee , has water behind and to the left of the basket . #5 has a tribute to Climo on it It is 369' from the longs , but is guarded by an oak with low hanging branches even on the ground guarding the basket . makes for interesting putts . Overthrow this hole or ricochet of a branch and you could hit water behind it . #9 is one of the shortest holes on the course at 279' , but you have to lift your drive enough to carry a wall in front of the basket . Throw too hard and go way past . Many holes here will have water on the right or left fairway or right behind the hole . #12 is a safe water carry , but the basket sits way past the water in a clump of trees . I played 2 discs at 16 long . One to throw an island shot , then 1 to play 16 as a station to station shot to the basket on the slight other side of a body of water . #17 is a hidden tee ( print the map ) down to the left , where you have to throw at the island shot , which is really a peninsula throw from the other way , with a long dropoff into the water on either side . Make sure you bring a couple of found or throwaway discs from your trunk when playing this course . It is not hard to have one land in water . And you don't want to go in after them ( explain in cons ) . #18 tee is actually close to the 17 hidden tee , just in the opposite direction . It is a tunnel shot with a small hillside to the left , a tree in the middle of the fairway and water to the immediate left . A true pucker shot from either the long or short tees . The next tee beyond it was unplayable , so you have to take an immediate right and out the other end to play the final holes . #21 ( or 18 as the locals know it ) finishes you off as a 669' par 3 ? What the ?!?! You want to come here when you have time to burn , because this is NOT a fast play . It took me over 90 minutes to play the 22 holes . By the time I was done , there were players all over this course . The park is clean and well kept . I met one of the locals from the Tampa Bay Disc Sports Club back on the hole behind 17 , clearing it for an upcoming tournament . Many very good holes and friendly locals , make this a happening course . Signature Hole : Maybe #16 , where you can throw to an island to throw over the rest of the water . There is a reason that there are so many bike riders and walkers here , with the trees , paths and water . Challenging , yet also friendly for the average player . The course has a more woods feel on holes 2-9 and 18 , and more open , park style and water related on the rest .

Cons:

#1 Safety . The only places you have to watch for disc golfers and fairways are from holes 4-8 . , especially after the front 9 , but the cement paths cut through a part of this course and bike riders and runners can come up on you in a minute . Nailing them with a drive is a possibility . Also , on maybe hole 13 ? One goes dangerously close to the busy road that cuts this course in 2 . You can easily hit a car that is coming in from behind you . #2 Water ,,, and safety . You will see more water related holes here than most anywhere . And most are sloped downward . Not only do you stand on losing your prized driver or midrange , but alligators have been spotted in these waters . Let your miscues drown . Bring a couple of second hand discs to throw some of these holes . I had one run-in with a gator at Sunset near Pensacola while putting on the fringe of a small lake . Don't take needless chances . Disc Risk : medium to high , just because of so many water possibilities ( the shorter tees try to steer you away from the water carries , a big plus )#3. Navigation . Even with a printed map , the back end of this course can be a head scratcher . You will see what you think is a natural flow ( 11 to 15 comes to mind , along with 17-18 ) only to be a course hiccup in another direction As scenic as these holes are , the course varies in distance and challenge , but the course is flat ( not able to help ) , and has no bends , station to station throws or doglegs . Shot shaping only goes to the creativity of this course . Some of this course might be a mess after a good hard rain .

Other Thoughts:

I didn't realize that Cliff Stephens in one of the oldest course in Florida . This is a first class play . Amenities , good trails and places to sit for family while you play , The course sits very close to Clearwater beach for you vacationers . Very scenic , it's no wonder that you have to dodge foot and bike traffic here .Even if I didn't play disc golf , I would come here , even if to eat lunch . You might even catch some of the local pros playing .If you lose any discs or just want to browse a huge disc golf store nearby , The Local Route is close by on Rt 19 . You might want to look at the Facebook page before coming out . I am told that this course hosts a lot of tournaments and organized play . Checked this course off of my personal bucket list .Thank You Clearwater Parks And Rec and Tampa Bay Disc Sports Club for letting me play this great course . My recommendation : Even with the shorter tees Newbies or local families may want to cut their teeth on North East Coachman Park just a few minutes up the road . Other than that , locals , Pros , Ams , vacationers , travelers will find that this is a must play . You will understand what I am saying immediately after you park your car here . Play IT !! As Many Times As You Can !!!
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7 0
goosefraba1
Silver level trusted reviewer
Experience: 12.2 years 80 played 39 reviews
4.00 star(s)

Great Classic Course 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Played on:Oct 6, 2019 Played the course:once

Pros:

This course has been on my wishlist for quite some time... and it did not disappoint.

*Personal Background as of time of review- 7 years playing DG, course designer of Black Bear DGC in West Portsmouth Ohio. I have played 3 of the current top 10 including: Flip, Harmon Hills, and Idlewild.

As the previous reviewer mentioned, It was really cool to see the Disc Golf sign on the main road that accesses the park. This is very similar to Idlewild. My review is simply for long tees to short baskets. 18 hole design. Holes 1 through 9 play through old growth oak forest. Holes 10 through 18 really open up for longer throws and water Carries.

Without spelling out every single hole, I will say that highlights for me were 2, 10, and 16. Something very majestic about Spanish moss covered oaks. Very likely, this is because it is nostalgic for me having grown up in South Carolina... and then living in Ohio and never seeing it.

Loved the long teepads. These arent a must for a long carry course, but very appreciated. Also enjoyed the signs that hung on the baskets... and tee signs that were in. Having a Kiosk is great.

Multiple Tees and Baskets on every hole. That really allows for different levels of play.


I guess the other thing that cant easily be replaced here... the history. Cool to know that there have been many top pros that have played here.

Cons:

Gators... I will put that as a con. No way in hell am I going after a disc. Although... this really made me think the holes and made me play differently than I would up north. Not really a con for me... but probably for most people. I will just leave the disc and donate it to the swimmers.

Again, not a con for me just knowing that this is an old course, but Multi use park with lots of pedestrian foot traffic. There will be several people that will walk through the course as you throw.

Other than the above holes, most of the holes felt like they were the exact same hole. Very few par 4s or 5s.... unless you play to the gold basket.

Other Thoughts:

I stopped by The Local Route on my way out. Very close by, and the people seem very personable. Having a great store nearby is almost enough to make the Pros... but since it isnt part of the course I will list it in this section.

I bet this course would be a blast for tournament play.

Thank you very much to the locals and the club for giving me a great course to travel to. I know it is difficult to take care of such a huge course.
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1 16
NAV009
Experience: 5 played 4 reviews
1.50 star(s)

Not for Beginners 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Played on:Oct 10, 2018 Played the course:once

Pros:

Pretty Location
Nice Tees
Shady Parking

Cons:

Green Rings on Baskets Hard to See
Some Baskets Completely Hidden
Fairly Difficult Course
Little Shade on Back 9
Lots of Water

Other Thoughts:

Not good for beginners at all. The first basket was quite far, tucked behind foliage on the bank of a pond on the right side of a walkway, with foliage and a steep bank into a creek on the left side. Very unforgiving for a beginner to throw that distance, let alone to do it accurately. On hole 3 I made one of the best throws I've ever made as a beginner player towards what I assumed was the approximate basket location. While headed in the right direction, I had to wander around for 5 minutes before I realized I was just over halfway to a hidden basket behind a bunch of tall grass and trees. The green basket rings don't stand out as it is, but shooting blind towards thick foliage and water isn't really enjoyable either. Maybe this course is okay for more experienced players, but I don't think it's remotely enjoyable for beginners. Unless getting baked in the sun while fishing your disc out of a pond is enjoyable, as the 9 holes across the street feature a lot of water and little shade. As I mentioned, it's nice that the parking area has some shade, and the park is very pretty.
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16 0
The Valkyrie Kid
Diamond level trusted reviewer
Experience: 45.8 years 1563 played 1507 reviews
4.00 star(s)

Cliff Stephens DGC Has It's Own Street Sign! 2+ years

Reviewed: Updated: Played on:Jan 24, 2018 Played the course:once

Pros:

About a half mile from the park, I spied a sign reading Cliff Stephens Park Disc Golf Course. I was most impressed. The large park is lovely and features many lakes and canals. It seems as though they come into play on just about every hole.

The course starts near the parking lot with the front 9 looping back here. There is a Sani-can, a course rules sign, and a small kiosk here. There are extra long concrete tee pads (14 feet) on both the Longs And the Shorts. The signs show the distance for both and as well 2-3 basket placements along with those distances. The baskets are a very pretty light green Discatchers. Or are they Pea Green?

There are benches at most every pad as well as garbage cans and bag holders. Both 9 and 18 finish at the parking lot.

I thought there was a nice mixture of hole lengths as well as difficulty. From the shorts, # 3 and # 9 we're both fun little Ace runs. I loved the difficult basket placement on both # 2 (stuck in behind this tree with multiple limbs sprouting up) and # 5 with it's basket just above the waters of the pond.

There were water carries for everyone. # 10 features a 280' carry if you throw directly at the basket. Then # 12 is just about 100' carry. # 16 is a monster especially from the longs and especially today with a brisk wind kicking up. And these don't include the other 7-8 lakes and canals border the fairways.

Cons:

As with just about course with added A-B-C type holes, I found this somewhat confusing. Firstly, my DGCR map shows a map with 21 holes numbered 1-21. There is no mention of any lettered holes but the information side states the course has 25 holes. I did find a basket just beyond # 16 basket labeled C. The cool island hole is listed as 17 on my DGCR map. I do see that there is a path leading off into the woods beyond the # 7 tee pad. If I had spent a little more time searching, I would've have figured it out.

Not a con but when you combine windy conditions with scary water carries, that's a situation.

All the water here that defines Cliff Stephens could also be considered a Con to many. Losing your plastic is a Con.

Hungry gators are a Con.

Course is flat.

Other Thoughts:

To me, Cliff Stephens lived up to it's lofty spot among Florida's top courses. The amenities were great. The water was lovely to look at, provided some nerve wracking moments throwing over or around it and is not advisable for rescuing little wayward discs out of. I liked the hole variety of short Ace runs and others like the 669' last hole. I don't know which number to bestow upon this behemoth (Is it 18' 21 or 25?) but I like the fact that there was some shaping and accuracy involved here as well. For me, # 16 was a little too much for my game but how I would love to watch any kind of a tournament group playing it.
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5 3
LeftyRob
Experience: 24.3 years 46 played 16 reviews
4.50 star(s)

TOP GULF COAST COURSE 2+ years

Reviewed: Updated: Played on:Aug 9, 2017 Played the course:once

Pros:

The holes flowed nicely from one to the next. No really long walks from basket to next tee. A couple of true bomber holes that also needed shape on the shot, mixed in with some intricate shorter holes. The scenery was beautiful, and many holes had tree cover, which was a welcome break in the heat of August !!

Cons:

Nothing course related at all. As a Canadian playing on his 2nd day in Florida, the heat was a little hard to get used to.Should have come back to play later in my trip; by day 4 I was more used to it. Lucky not to come across any snakes, but did see a gator, so a disc close to or in the water may be one you want to consider leaving where it lays!

Other Thoughts:

I don't think this would be a course a beginner would want to take on, what with a fair bit of water in play, but for those with a little more experience it will be well worth the trip. I'll be back!
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12 1
SpartanDisc
Silver level trusted reviewer
Premium Member
Experience: 21.7 years 237 played 27 reviews
4.00 star(s)

A Florida Classic 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Played on:Feb 24, 2017 Played the course:2-4 times

Pros:

-- Cliff Stephens is a well laid out, 24+ hole course with multiple tees on many holes and multiple pin placements. This means there is a lot of fun golf to play out here. There are long shots, tight tunnels, nerve-wrecking water carries, and a lot in between. The only thing really missing here is a lot of elevation, though there is some (especially the riverbanks). The variety is what really makes this course for me: I throw just about every disc in my bag and use every shot I know how to throw every time I play it. Many holes have different lines you can play based on what you are feeling that day.
-- Risk/reward. With all the water in play on this course, there is a lot of decision making between a safe shot that won't fly/roll into the water or that perfect line that you *know* you can throw but may not be the highest percentage shot for you. Hole 16 really embodies this, with a HUGE carry over a pond on a very long hole. From the long tees, you can try to carry straight (a 330-400 foot bomb depending on where you aim), play short to the right to get to dry land, or play out to the left onto the peninsula with hole A's basket. Launching one out there and praying that it barely carries to dry land can be a lot of fun or just plain miserable depending on whether the disc golf gods decide to listen that day. Hole A is another risky shot (that is an extra hole not always played) where you shoot out a very narrow peninsula fairway to a basket surrounded on 3 sides by dangerous water.
-- The tees are nice concrete tees with plenty of length. They could be wider, but they aren't narrow enough to be problematic.
-- There are benches, trash cans, and bag hangers all over the place. The signs are also very helpful with actual pictures of the holes showing the various pin placements. The only thing missing from the signs would be an indicator of which pin placement is currently installed.
-- The legend and history of this course. Being built in 1986, it has seen a lot of rounds by a lot of players and has become somewhat infamous. It is also the home course of The Champ, Ken Climo.

Cons:

-- Water, water, water. And gators. Water plays in on a very large number of holes, with some just having river along the side or back of the hole barely in play but with others carrying over a good amount of water. I don't know if I have ever played here without losing at least one disc. I've had a few that I could see in the water, but with all the signs everywhere about gators, I wasn't about to go in and get them. I can also attest that these signs aren't exaggerations, the last time I played (Feb 2017) I saw a tiny 2ft gator on the back of hole 5 and thought "oh cool." That was until I got to hole 7 and saw an 8-10 foot gator sitting on the shore just downhill behind the basket. Playing water shots is fun, but be prepared to lose some plastic here.
-- On the theme of losing discs, hole 17 (I think locals call it "B" or something, but is the one listed as 17 on this site) is also a bit ridiculous. It's a short hole, but incredibly tight (15 to 20ft wide) with really thick woods on the right and a few tree trunks, thick bushes, and a creek on the left. While the creek is pretty shallow and narrow, the bank is steep with very thick brush. A slightly errant shot can barely catch a tree and bounce way left or right into very serious trouble. This hole always takes me forever.
-- While this course has decent variety, I'd say it tends to play largely open. There are some more tightly wooded holes towards the end, though ideally I'd want the open and wooded holes a bit more spaced out to balance the front and back nines and keep the round a bit more interesting.
-- Some holes play next to or over a bike path and a road. The road is only one hole, but the bike path comes into play a lot. I've had to wait on quite a few holes for bikers and walkers to clear the fairway before throwing, and on a super busy day I could see risks of someone getting hit with a disc.
-- Towards the end, it is confusing to know where to go. Hole A feels natural after 16 but is rarely played. The original 17 is also right there, but if you do that you miss the new holes in the back (listed as 17-22 on this site). A sign after 16 directing players where to go based on whether they are playing 24 or just the original 18 would really help.

Other Thoughts:

While some of the newer courses in the area - like Cypress Point and Picnic Island - are better, this is a must play course in the Tampa Bay area if for nothing else but the history of the place. It is a very fun round, but I'd recommend bringing some throwaway plastic for some of the water shots (but don't worry, Clearwater Disc Golf store is just up the road in case you need to reload your bag after a round). Enjoy, and watch out for gators!
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8 1
Inverted
Experience: 8 played 5 reviews
4.00 star(s)

Enchanted Forest 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Played on:Dec 4, 2016 Played the course:once

Pros:

Loved this course! I played in the afternoon, and the low sun was lighting up the moss that hangs from the mature trees and making them glow. It was really picturesque!

On to the course: First 9 is mostly moderate length holes, thru mature tree lines. Water skirts a few holes, and sits quite lower than the land, so flirting with the edge could lead to a roll away disc, but only if you make a bad shot. The water really shouldn't be in play too much for most throws. I really like the multiple lines offered by the mature trees, and the mentioned slight elevation changes, which are both kinda rare in parts of Florida. I played conservatively throwing straight at most baskets keeping the disc low. And making good approach putts lead to easy pars. There a few legit birdie chances to be had. Back nine the water comes in to play more, but the trees thin out a bit, so it's a wash. I little easier to stretch out your throws, but you better be accurate! A couple of water carries, but there are areas to bail out if you aren't feeling on top of your game. I did not play the extra holes, so cant review them...was running out of daylight. Overall, the pads are concrete, in fine shape, and the baskets are adequate.

Cons:

Small parking area as you arrive. Really need a course map and sign directing you to the first hole. I walked around a bit like a newb looking for the first hole until I found it. Be aware of walkers, bikers, etc. There are paths throughout the park. Also, gators and snakes. Baskets are set a bit low to the ground. Could use a little more variety in this regard. But I'm nitpicking...the course is really really fun.

Other Thoughts:

It was a beautiful park, played in beautiful weather. I played +1 which I thought was great for first time through. I did put one in the drink on #16, but it was fun going for it! Played with a beginner who played from the short pads, and she was able to get some pars and really enjoy the course, as well.

I recommend this course, definitely one of the top 10 in FL, and you feel the history of the course when you play it.
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12 1
wellsbranch250
Diamond level trusted reviewer
Experience: 10.1 years 651 played 626 reviews
4.00 star(s)

Home of the Champ - Ken Climo 2+ years

Reviewed: Updated: Played on:Sep 13, 2017 Played the course:2-4 times

Pros:

(3.838 Rating) (REVISED - replayed September 2017) Generally regarded as one of better courses in the Tampa Bay region. The layout will test the nerves of a seasoned player and ruin the day for the kid with just one disk.
- MULTIPLE FORMATS - The thing I find most intriguing about Cliff is the ability to choose between multiple hole formats based on skill and the time one has available. For example, starting at 1, you could play 1-9 as 9 ends at parking. you could play 1-18. Adjacent to (16) is a loop of 6 additional holes (19 thru 24). There is also a 25th Hole (A) and it's a signature bonus hole and is generally only played during casual rounds. It's a must play if you have the time. The basket for hole (A) is surrounded by water, as is only connected by a small isthmus from tee and basket. It will intimidate even the surest of players.
- CHARACTER - The course has most of the typical character items that you'd see at an older established course. Brand new baskets as of this revision. Other items include; multiple basket locations, benches, bag holders, good tee signage, trash cans, tables, porta-potty and so on.
- TEES - I find that the concrete tees are satisfactory in length and in integrity. There are also multiple tees pads for a majority of the holes.
- UNIQUENESS - The hole variety and shot selection options are well above the average course. There are heavily wooded and open shots. There are holes along water, over water, and "keep it short" of water. There are right and left pocket shots, blind baskets, and a few gimme holes. There are no listed par 4's, but at 669 feet and with flanking water, (18) could easily be list as such. No par 5 and the course lacks a true dog-leg hole. No hole twists more than 20 degrees.
- CHALLENGING - The two sets of tees will offer a good challenge to a wide swath of skill levels. The back tees are great for advanced players and the front tees are great for rec and intermediate level players. Risk reward lines are present on several holes. Not as much as the shot shaping as nearby Maximo but close. A few holes will also require a nice bomb done the fairway. I want to say that I've used every disc in my bag for this one.
- NATURAL BEAUTY - The Spanish moss on the live oaks is pretty awesome. Lots of water views and the overall landscape is pleasing. Doesn't quite have the eye appear of nearby Picnic or Taylor, but it's up there.
- FUN FACTOR - In general, I find the course to be fun. There are a few opportunities for aces, some enjoyable driving windows to hit and plenty of chill areas. In addition, the regulars will be pleased with a very active club with weekly events.

Cons:

Other than the water factor, I find no other major issues with Cliff Stevens, but I will add a few ticky-tack things.
- WATER - The glaring problem with Cliff is the amount of water, which comes into play 14 times. I advise that only Pros and Advanced players play the back tees to mitigate some of this problem. Many area players consider it an accomplishment to complete a round and not throw one in the water.
- BEGINNER FRIENDLY - Due to the above issue, bring a beginner or newer player here is not advised.
- NAVIGATION - There is no course map located within the community board. The map on DGCR is only good till (16) and is not up to date with the new 24+1 hole format or numbering after (16). For this reason the loop holes 19-24 are tricky to navigate. After hole 16, head west into the woods to find tee (19). Hole (20) is due west after (19) basket. (21) tee is north of (20) basket. The tee (22) is easy to find as you'll pass it to get to (21) basket. After hole (22) basket, head south and towards the road (U.S. 19) and you'll find (23) tee. after (23), head east down the path for what seems like at least 500 feet to find (24) Please note these holes were labeled as (17-22) for awhile and (17 and 18) were labeled as (23 and 24). Needless to say, Its confusing.
- SAFETY HAZARDS - There are a lot of bikers, walkers and joggers in the park. You will likely have to pause your round a few times. Hole (13) has a road in play.

Other Thoughts:

Cliff Stevens is one of the oldest active courses in the state of Florida, behind Northside Park and Lake Wauburg in the Gainesville area. In addition, this is the home course for 12X World Champion Ken Climo.
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1 5
Chrisyo
Experience: 5 played 5 reviews
4.00 star(s)

A wonderful course with a wonderful history. 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Played on:Sep 11, 2015 Played the course:once

Pros:

Cliff Stevens is a beautiful piece of property and has a very well thought out course design. Some of the best disc golfer's in the world play here on a regular basis. I'm a big fan of the new signs that use photographs to guide you through the course. The front nine is very easy to follow with a perfect flow, but the back nine is a little bit more challenging.
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7 1
thrembo
Diamond level trusted reviewer
Premium Member
Experience: 48.8 years 242 played 194 reviews
4.00 star(s)

Like A Fine Wine... 2+ years

Reviewed: Updated: Played on:Jun 13, 2017 Played the course:5+ times

Pros:

Like a fine wine, this grand old course keeps getting better with age. It is a very popular course, that has been constantly improving over the years.

Most holes have 2-3 pin placements, 2 sets of tees, and nice tee signs. The "Home Of The Champ" sign was a nice touch.

The course is very scenic, and pleasant to play. There are plenty of fair water holes, and many trees to shot shape around. The course runs from moderate to long in length and offers plenty of challenge. Not too much in the way of rough, so the risk of losing a disc is low here, except to the water of course.

The course is well maintained, and litter free.

Cons:

The course plays close to the road and walking paths/sidewalks on a few holes, so a little waiting to let walkers/joggers/bikers pass may be needed.

I would recommend skipping the alt holes, and just playing the 18 main holes during a casual round. The alternate holes can be hard to navigate, if they are in at all, and are primarily used for tournaments, to allow for more participants.

If you don't like water holes, the amount of water here may be a con for you. I found the water holes to be fair though.

The course may not be the best one for beginners.

Other Thoughts:

This is the home course of "The Champ" Ken Climo and is one of the most popular courses in the Greater Tampa area. The large and competent local leagues do a good job of maintaining their courses and hosting fun tournaments.
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5 1
Lewis
Experience: 16.7 years 18 played 12 reviews
3.50 star(s)

Solid course with a few layout issues... 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Played on:Dec 26, 2014 Played the course:2-4 times

Pros:

Cliff Stephens is challenging and fair, with a variety of different carries across and around water and trees. In terms of the layout, it's a 3.5-4.0 quality course, with good signage in most places. It's a pretty course to play in, with lots of broad-branched live-oaks and spanish moss, as you'd expect in Florida, and they are woven into the layout in creative ways. Although parking is extremely limited near hole #1, it's easy to find. Another "pro," which could be awarded to any course in Florida, is that it's playable in warm weather year 'round. The only times I've played it have been in late December. During the first trip, the weather was unusually cold, according to the locals, but 50-something fahrenheit was nothing I could complain about in late December. Last December, weather was balmy, in the 70s.

Cons:

There are a few significant problems with this course which lead me to bring my personal rating down a notch or two from what the quality of the layout and course conditions would normally merit. First, there are several holes that play across or right next to walking paths, and in one case, a public road. The hole right next to the road is the most problematic, with an enticing hyzer line directly out over automobile traffic as the best high-percentage shot. Even attempts to run the narrower gap between the trees, to avoid the line over the road, can be kicked out by tree-hate into the road. It would be a good hole if the road weren't there, but as it is it causes problems, in my humble opinion. The fairways that run along the walking paths are less problematic, in my experience, because there haven't been many people on the walking paths when I've played. I don't know if that's more of a problem at other times of the year or not.

The other significant problem with the course, which I believe could easily be corrected, is the confusing set of extra holes, I think named A-C, that have been sort of inserted between #16 and #17. It's difficult at best to find these extra holes on your own, but even the locals that I asked for directions seemed to lead me astray. When I was there playing, I got conflicting information about whether the "peninsula" hole just after #16, a long par 4 carry across/around water, was playable or not, and I saw more than one group of locals sitting around on the peninsula, hanging out near the basket, rather than playing that hole. Descriptions of hole #16 that I've read mention the peninsula as a possible landing zone towards the #16 basket. Hole A is a crazy-tight tunnel shot with terrible shule to the right, and an allegedly gator-populated canal to the left. The entire fairway is about 7' wide, to my memory, with walls of trees and shule packed close on both sides. This is what I'd consider the worst kind of poke-and-pray "grinder" tunnel, and does not match the quality of the rest of the course. Hole "B" is farther into the woods, parallel to this grinder tunnel, but also seems out of place on the course. Rumors of Hole "C", and maybe other extra holes, seemed to be no more than rumors, because I couldn't find them, unless maybe "C" is the supposed to be the peninsula hole. My second time around the course this past December, I gave up on the lettered holes, and moved straight from #16 to #17, which is what I'd recommend for others. I think the layout could really benefit from the removal of these extra holes, perhaps to replace them with something better. At the very least, the signage, course condition notes, and everything else about these extra holes should be corrected to match the reality on the ground. A few "next hole" arrows would also be welcome in places on the back 9.

Other Thoughts:

There are a couple of World Champions who have been known to play here regularly, and I'd be interested to see them rate the course -- especially Paul McBeth, who is a DCGR member. My rating as a player, if I were a PDGA member, would hover somewhere around 900, and I'd normally choose to play "Intermediate" in sanctioned tournaments.
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6 0
EWSdiscgolf
Experience: 10.5 years 89 played 28 reviews
4.50 star(s)

One of the best I've played in Florida 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Played on:Feb 19, 2015 Played the course:once

Pros:

- Course is located in a beautiful park
- Signage isn't a problem, great tee signs and nice, long tee pads
- The baskets were old, but they were decent.
- There was more than one tee position for most holes and 2 tee boxes per hole
- Great use of land and water, no holes are guaranteed disc losing holes
- Playing this course from the short pads is like a completely different course, unlike most courses.
- Many times you will go back to the parking lot while playing
- 25 holes makes it so if you have a couple of bad holes, you can make up for them on the later holes.
- The Clearwater Disc Golf Store is very close to the course

Cons:

- On the last 5 or 6 holes, it was confusing because the tee signs were wrong
- Sometimes the course can be super packed
- There are lots of pedestrians, so watch out for them
- There's a real risk of losing a disc here
- For a popular course, there is limited parking, so some people will have to go farther away to park because there isn't a parking spot

Other Thoughts:

It was really close to NE Coachman, so it would make a nice 43 hole run. Out of the 4 courses I played in Florida, this might be my favorite.
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7 0
jjw4ucm
Silver level trusted reviewer
Experience: 10.7 years 37 played 30 reviews
4.00 star(s)

Nice design, interesting all around! 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Updated: Played on:Jan 12, 2022 Played the course:5+ times

Pros:

UPDATE 1/17/2022: This course continues to age beautifully. Maintenance is spot on, and facilities are in nice shape. The shot variety is great, and it's still outstanding even though we have some other newer options popping up in the area. I consider it to be one of our top tier courses and play here often now that I live down here.

I've frequently heard the knock that this course is hard and a bad choice for beginners. I beg to differ; I think it's worth laying up a few times to avoid the water just to play this amazing course. It's a bit long but not obnoxiously so...I've played courses with multiple 800-ft holes back to back, and this isn't like that at all.

Original review follows:
______________________

Great course design. Lots of different shots kept the play interesting the entire time and I wasn't bored once playing here.

The front 9 is fairly tight and close-in, but the back 9 opens up a lot and you have some chances to air it out. Great job balancing the two and providing a fun experience.

I actually really liked the course tee signs. The photos were a bit unorthodox and different from what I'm used to seeing, but I actually found them pretty helpful. A photo showing specifically which tree the hole is hiding behind is better in my mind than a top-down map with green circles.

Water, water everywhere, but not frustrating or overdone. Love how it is used throughout the course to add difficulty.

The hazards here always seem to fall on the right side of the fun/frustrating divide. I was challenged here and didn't do well to be honest, but it was great fun and would definitely play again.

Ample parking, a porta-john, and trash facilities were available. The surrounding neighborhood looked fairly safe to me as well.

"Hole A" on the back 9 was a blast. A super easy way to lose a disc in the water, but a neat challenge if you've got the time.

The short/long tee pads are amazing and help make this course accessible to all skill levels. It was much appreciated and they frequently help guide you around hazards where you could lose a disc, which was nice.

Course scenery is very nice here; saw plenty of birds while out and the foliage is as always beautiful.

I like how hole 9 plays right back by the parking lot. Great way to get back to the car if you forgot something, or even take off if you don't have much time.

Cons:

UPDATE 1/17/2022: The only con I will add is that this course is very, very busy. It's one of several great courses in our area, but the only one that seems consistently crowded.
_______________________________

Navigation was acceptable, and greatly aided by the picture of the map I took with my phone. However, I agree that some "next tee" signs would be nice. The hop from 9-10 was not obvious at all and I would have totally missed it without the map.

You cross quite a few paths throughout, and you have to be fairly aware to make sure you don't hurt people or cyclists. Not a DG-specific area.

Other Thoughts:

UPDATE 1/17/2022: Cliff Stephens is one of my personal favorites, and it's an amazing course. It's aging very well and is clearly well taken care of. Review remains at a 4.
_____________________
This course was easy to get to, a blast to play, beautiful, and I think it would be a fun play for most skill levels. Maybe a little overwhelming for your first course, but not horrible either. The design of the shots here was what really gave this course a great rating in my mind -- excellent design makes for a fun, enjoyable round in a beautiful park. Happy discing!
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5 0
dad_of_dg_junkies
Bronze level trusted reviewer
Experience: 11.7 years 50 played 22 reviews
4.00 star(s)

Fun in the Sun 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Updated: Played on:Jul 2, 2014 Played the course:once

Pros:

Cliff Stephens is a park style course in Clearwater with pretty simple access from I-275.
There was ample parking a nice practice area and a couple of portable bathrooms at the practice area.
The layout is setup where hole 9 and hole 18 return to the parking area.
The chaistar baskets were all in pretty good shape.
Most of the holes have multiple tee pad that can allow for a rec player to enjoy the round while the more advanced player can be challenged from the back tee. The pads were concrete and in real nice shape.
There were 2 different pin locations on each hole.
The layout of the course was very well done. There were some holes that forced a hyzer and some holes that forced an anny. Rollers were also a good option on a couple of holes.
I was also impressed with the natural use of the propety to achieve a very challenging disc golf course.
Not being from the area, I wasn't used to the sandy terrain, but I consider this as a pro since most of my upshots would hit and stick.
I remember there being some holes that had places to sit down.
The teeth of this course to me was the distance of the holes. 426 ft par 3 right off the first tee and ending in a 670 ft par 4 is typical of the course. To play the back tee, you WILL need to throw long accurate shots AND work the disc to score well here.
Hole 16 is a thing of beauty. The pin was in "A" making it play at it's longest distance, but that is a awesome hole. The risk/reward is what is love about disc golf.

Cons:

Beware of snakes on the property. Being from Kentucky, we have our share of snakes, but we saws 3 or 4 in a day at the course.

Being a park setting, there are other people in the park that will hinder your round some.

Other Thoughts:

This park was a very nice place to play disc golf. It would make a great home course to work on your game. The ability to flight the disc is the key to playing here... not just playing turns or fades. When we return to Florida next year, this place WILL be on our MUST play list.
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1 5
ngramly
Experience: 11.7 years 60 played 2 reviews
4.50 star(s)

My Favorite in Florida So Far 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Played on:Apr 27, 2014 Played the course:once

Pros:

A good mixture of technical/open, short/long, and risk/reward holes. You have to consider each hole individually and plan your shot accordingly. The landscape is beautiful and makes for a very enjoyable time on the course.

Cons:

It is a popular multi-use park and there area a lot of non-DG park-goers around. You will likely have to wait for traffic to clear on several holes.

Other Thoughts:

I played the Fun N Sun tournament this past weekend which was my first time at this course and I was thoroughly impressed! You truly have to bring a complete game to finish well here.
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3 3
Peter S
Bronze level trusted reviewer
Experience: 29.8 years 165 played 32 reviews
3.50 star(s)

Cliff Stephens 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Updated: Played on:Jan 16, 2014 Played the course:5+ times

Pros:

feels like 2 parks in 1. parking lot side has some tree shots & some watter hazards. Some very mature oaks that give much challenge & beauty. Cross the street for the rest of the course & the shots are more open. Great tees and new signs.

Cons:

No rest room for the ladies. Just a port-a-potty.

Other Thoughts:

Love it and on the fence between 3.5 - 4. I go out of the way to go to Clearwater & play each time I am on I75 from Gainesville to south Fl.
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11 1
reposado
Diamond level trusted reviewer
Experience: 12.7 years 278 played 273 reviews
3.50 star(s)

i picked the right day to buy a blizzard destroyer 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Played on:Mar 14, 2014 Played the course:once

Pros:

Really cool layout with a lot of water and a bunch of interesting holes. But first, it's a scenic park with water views on most holes and gorgeous live oaks draped with Spanish moss all across the property. If you're lucky, you might see a gator. I'm pretty sure I saw one coming up for a breath. It could have been the world's largest fish. (It's a great course for floaters as the wind will likely be strong enough to push a disc to one side of any body of water.)

Though it's got a good bit of variety, with holes of varying lengths and shapes, and I don't think there are many weak holes I think it's more notable for its standout holes than it's consistency. The most interesting hole is definitely 16. Big arms or pros will probably go all the way across to try and reach the pin. Lesser players will probably follow the shoreline to the basket. The coolest route, designed for intermediate players is to cross in two steps. The first throw carries the bulk of the water to the peninsula with the 17 basket. It's a long walk from the tee to the lie from tee but it's a short carry from there to the basket.

12 may provide the only additional mandatory carry, (a fun hole in it's own right) that's not the end of the water here. 10, played aggressively, is a long carry across a round pond. And then you must consider 3 and 4, really fun holes that feature water to the left and favor shots that can hover over that section of river and finish right. There is enough holes that feature a water hazard at some point in the layout that it should remain interesting.

And while the holes that don't feature water can be a bit on the bland side, there is enough variety among them that this course should not get stale for a while. It does not use water as well as Trophy Lakes for example, the non-water holes here are much better than the dry holes there. Cliff Stephens is a course that, while not entirely dependent on water, only stands out because of the excellent holes that do feature it.

Cons:

Holy where-are-the-next-tee-signs. Or arrows. Or painted spokes. This course is just not that friendly to new players as they will constantly be pulling up the map on their phones. It's a bit strange to overlook this. The tee signs display a lot of work. The tees themselves are fantastic. Making arrows that point out the right direction is much less work than either of those projects yet so many times on this course I was doing 360s trying to figure where to go next. This factor is compounded by the fact that in several locations where several pins are visible. It's probably one of those courses that plays better with experience but it the navigation and flow are lacking here.

Also while the tee signs are cool, I think a map would be more informative than the photos. It really just isn't easy to tell from the signs exactly where the target is. Effort commended and A for aesthetics but they aren't that helpful. Alternatively, the big numbers on top of the baskets like the ones at Coachman would clear up most issues.

A few of the fairways at the end essentially run along the bike path. I don't think this is as bad here as it often is because the path runs so straight that you will see someone coming long before they are in range. And as it is a long-range trail and not a park walkway there shouldn't be too many people on it.

Lastly, the course plays better without the three extra holes. We were following the map, which lists the three extra holes as 17,18 and 19 and the holes that have tee signs reading 17 are labeled as 20 and 21. The new holes just don't fit with the rest of the course. They're not necessarily bad, but they really just feel tacked on. This wouldn't be an issue if the course itself was labeled better and new players didn't have to use the map as it would be easy to skip extra holes.

Other Thoughts:

Incredibly close to Coachman Park which makes for a great 36 holes. If I had to choose one course in the Bay Area, I'd play Medard. But if I was going to play to play two, I'd take the Stephens-Coachman combo. I don't know how much I want to walk the path between them as it's pretty far for a walk, but the drive is very quick.
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4 1
S.Cann
Gold level trusted reviewer
Experience: 14.8 years 156 played 82 reviews
4.00 star(s)

Cliff Stephens DGC 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Played on:Feb 26, 2014 Played the course:once

Pros:

-Perfect mix of long and short tees
-This course has some of the best water hazards that I've seen. The water really brings in the risk/reward factor to several holes.
-Concrete tees on all holes, both long and short.
-Some of the best tee signs around. They give you a close-up of the basket and show you the location of the next tee which makes navigation a cinch.
-The course plays in a figure 8 with the parking lot conveniently located in the middle.
-This course is a "Tale of Two Halves" with the front being a bit shorter with more trees in play and the back being longer with less trees and more water hazard. This was probably my favorite aspect of the course.
-As long as you avoid the water hazards it's pretty easy to recover from a poorly throw shot.
-Challenging, but not brutal.
-This being The Champ's home course is a definite plus.

Cons:

-The biggest con for me was how crowded this course was. I arrived at 10:30 am on a Wednesday morning and the course was still packed.
-Lots of pedestrians to contend with adds to the slow down on the course.
-There's a real risk of losing a disc here.

Other Thoughts:

Cliff Stephens really is a fantastic course with a great ambience. It's challenging, but doesn't beat you down. This was my second favorite course of the 7 I played in the bay area.
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2 14
tkatzer52
Experience: 13.7 years 2 played 2 reviews
5.00 star(s)

Dream Course 2+ years drive by

Reviewed: Played on:Jul 10, 2013 Played the course:2-4 times

Pros:

the pros of this course are that it is perfect for anyone who has experience and for anyone who has a passion for the sport

Cons:

The Gators and muddy at times

Other Thoughts:

when im 18 im moving from Wisconsin to florida just for this course
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