A Florida Classic
3 Helpful / 0 Not
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!
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 0 Not
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.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
2nd Oldest Course in Florida
7 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: 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.
- 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 1-16 then 23 - 24 for 18 holes as 16 and 23 are adjacent. you could play 1-24 or 1-24+A. Hole (A) is a signature bonus 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 thee advanced players.
- The course has most of the typical character items that you'd see at an older established course. such as; bag holders, good tee signage, trash cans, tables and so on.
- 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.
- 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 two par 4's, with one that's 669 feet with flanking water. which is perfect for the disc bomber wanting to lose a disk.
- 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 as many of the holes have alternate basket locations.
Cons: - 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.
- Other than the water factor, I find no other major issues with Cliff Stevens, but I will add a few ticky-tack things.
- there is no course map located within the community board. the map on DGCR is not up to date with the new 24+1 hole format. for this reason holes 17-21 are tricky to navigate. After hole 16, head west into the woods (near hole A tee box area. hole 18 is due west after 17 basket. 19 tee is north of 18 basket, hole 20 tee is easy to find as you'll pass it to get to 19 basket. after hole 20 basket, head south and towards the road (U.S. 19) and you'll find 21 tee. after 21, head east down the path for what seems like at least 500 feet.
- There are a lot of bikers, walkers and joggers in the park. You will likely have to pause your round a few times.
- The course lacks a true dog-leg hole. I don't recall any hole twisting more than 20 degrees.
Other Thoughts: - Interesting note about Cliff, according to the PDGA, Cliff Stevens is the second oldest active course in the state of Florida, behind Northside Park in Gainesville.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful.
A wonderful course with a wonderful history.
0 Helpful / 3 Not
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.
0 of 3 people found this review helpful.
Like A Fine Wine...
4 Helpful / 0 Not
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 to much in the way of rough, so the risk of loosing 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. They 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 league does a good job of maintaining their courses, and hosting fun tournaments.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
Solid course with a few layout issues...
4 Helpful / 0 Not
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.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
4 Helpful / 0 Not
One of the best I've played in Florida
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.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 0 Not
Nice design, interesting all around!
Pros: 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: 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: 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!
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 0 Not
Fun in the Sun
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.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 5 Not
My Favorite in Florida So Far
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.
1 of 6 people found this review helpful.
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