Cliff Stephens Disc Golf Course Review- Clearwater, FL

Hey, if it's good enough for Ken Climo...

The Cliff Stephens Disc Golf Course in Clearwater, FL is located about 20 minutes away from the Tampa, FL airport, making it an ideal destination for fellow disc golf travelers headed to the Sunshine State. This beautifully maintained disc golf course features well-marked concrete tee boxes, a number of water hazards, and some quirky surprises along the way. While this may not be the most challenging course in the country, it is certainly one of the best experiences I have had in my travels so far...just watch out for the lightning!

If you recall the Word Of Life Disc Golf Course review, you remember I spent some time down in Tampa, Fl. My next disc golf travel brought me about 45 minutes south of my Parents' new home in Pasco County. The Cliff Stephens Disc Golf course in Clearwater was certainly worth the trip. In fact, I ended up going back two more times during my stay in Florida.

The Experience:

At first glance you will realize that this is an extremely tight course. Holes are placed very close to one another. As a result there is not a whole lot of walking during your round. Depending on your perspective this could be a positive or a negative (if you spend as much time online as I do maybe its the latter).  Each hole has two concrete tee boxes with excellent signage pointing out the general hole location.  Most holes as Cliff Stephens Disc Golf Course are straight shots that should be an easy 3 for experiences players. Distances are mostly short...in the 300' - 350' range (except for the long 18th). A good stable driver (such as my newly purchased Discraft XL...click here for a review)) could be your best friend here.

Naturally,  the Cliff Stephens Disc Golf Course in Clearwater, FL  is not a breeze to play. Just about every hole features either a thick grouping of trees or a water hazard.  A bad drive could leave you making the decision to lay up onto the fairway, or try to cut through several hazards. Hole number 5 is a good example of how important the placement of your drive can be. You could easily waste two strokes trying to cut through trees if you don't land in a favorable spot.  As far as challenging water hazards go, look no further than hole #16 which features an island green. It can easily be reached with a medium distance drive. However, it will definitely test your mettle (I would not want to lost a brand new disc).

*On a related note, my Mom, Girlfriend, and I struck up a conversation with a young man who was snorkeling for lost discs in the various ponds. The Clearwater resident did not seem to mind the posted "DANGER: ALLIGATOR" signs (yes...I'm serious). I can only hope he was getting hazard pay on his ebay postings.

As previously mentioned, the course ends on a high note, allowing you to let loose a cannon of a drive on #18. The fairway is WIDE OPEN and forgiving. You will definitely have fun letting loose and pulling out your longest, least accurate driver. It might even take you a couple long drives to get within putting range.

Throughout your experience at Cliff Stephens Disc Golf Course the one feature you will probably notice most is the diversity that is found from hole to hole. No two holes are exactly the same. Each features a memorable hole location, hazard, or quirk. Hole #9 for example has you drive over a wooded retaining wall that is about waist high.  My girlfriend Sherri had the shot of the day on this hole, bouncing her Discraft Avenger SS driver right off the top of the wall and inches away from the basket.

To sum things up...if you are ever in the Tampa/Clearwater area you need to check out the Cliff Stephens Disc Golf Course. Check that...you NEED to visit the Tampa/Clearwater area to come play this course. It is absolutey beautifully maintained, expertly designed, and a whole lot of fun. Oh yeah...did I mention it is Ken Climo's home course?

The Good:

- Well planned/maintained

- Nice concrete tee boxes

- Fun and challenging for any level player

- A wide array of hazards

- Beautiful scenery

The Not-So-Good:

- Watch the gators!

- Watch the lightning...we had to leave the course after 9 because of storms. They roll in almost every evening in Clearwater/Tampa, FL

- Some holes intersect each other (ex: #10, #18)

Memorable Holes:

#9 - A waist-high retaining wall just below the basket can make for some interesting putts

#16 - Island Green...need i say more?

#18 - Long and wide-open... grip it and rip it

Recommended Discs:

- You can find a situation for just about every disc in your bag (hat tip - course design)

- Long throwers should definitely bring some stable fairway drivers...such as an Innova Leopard for the shortest holes

- Of course...you can't go wrong with a good old fashioned Discraft BUZZZ-d (Click for Review)

As always...happy disc golf traveling.

Tampa, FL – Word of Life Disc Golf Course Review

If you are visiting Pasco County, FL (Tampa Bay area)  you don't have too many options as far as disc golf courses go. Sure, you could travel down the Sun Coast Parkway about 45 minutes to Clearwater (later posts to come)...but what if you don't have half a day to kill?  The Word of Life Disc Golf Course in Hudson, FL (just north of Tampa) provides a quick fix for your disc golf itch. It may not be the most challenging or well manicured course, but beginners and seasoned enthusiasts alike will find this one worth a try.

When my parents moved to Pasco County (Tampa Bay) I was eager to scope out some disc golf hot spots. Google drew me to Clearwater, which features some gorgeous courses within minutes of each other. However, a tip from some locals pointed me to the Word of Life Disc Golf Course in Hudson, Fl. It was certainly a unique disc golf experience.

The Experience:

I was excited for this particular round because my parents would be playing disc golf for the first time. My girlfriend and I were looking forward to showing them the ropes and hopefully impressing them with some nifty shots. I was thinking it would be great if they got into a sport I love. But realistically I would have settled for a guarantee that my Dad's arm wouldn't fall off after 15+ years of shoulder inactivity.

After winding around some rural side roads and pulling into the gated "Word of Life" complex, you need to check in at the front desk of the hotel (The course is located on the campus of a religious summer camp and convention center). The staff is very friendly and will happily hand you a map and some paper bracelets indicating that you have paid the $2 greens fee (per person).

When active, the camp is teeming with kids riding bikes and walking down the roads. However, once you step foot on the course it becomes very private (one exception mentioned below).

The first thing you'll notice when teeing off on #1 is the openness of the course. Losing a disc would be a difficult feat given the open fairways and lack of thick brush.  I used this opportunity to unload my newly purchased Discraft Surge SS. It flew great and I was immediately impressed with the amount of glide it got (I actually drove past a few baskets before I adjusted...oh yeah...disc review to come).

The Word of Life Disc Golf Course boasts 3 - 4 tee boxes for each hole. However, they are made from carpet that is generally ripped up and overgrown. It definitely gives you the feeling you are on a forgotten course.

Just about every hole is wide open and between 200-300 feet from the amateur tee (300 - 400 from blue).  This is conducive to lots of 2's and 3's. Even my parents were able to mark down a few pars when they hit a lucky drive. This combination made the course feel a little tired to me. Although I am certainly no pro, an opportunity to make a nice anhyzer or forehand shot would have added to the experience.

The front 9 of the Word of Life Disc Golf Course was not very well maintained. The grass was overgrown and it made me question my decision to wear shorts (it was about 100 degrees in the Sun!).  This, in addition to the wide open and often un-marked holes made the course seem like it had been forgotten by the staff.

The back 9 slightly redeemed the course in my eyes.  The grass was well mowed and the tee boxes were in better shape than those on the front 9. One very nice touch was the 18th hole, which leads right back to your car; Something that should not be overlooked.

Overall, the Word of Life Disc Golf Course in Hudson, FL is a nice course to play if you live in the Tampa, FL area. It provides short, wide open holes that are perfect for beginners to learn on without fear of losing a disc. Advanced players will be frustrated with the lack of diversity or need to make different types of shots. A good player could play the whole course with a mid-range disc. I could have used my Discraft Buzzz (my personal fav.) from just about every tee with a ton of success...but what fun would that be?

My parents had a blast...my Dad's arm held up (with the help of some aspirin)...and I had a nice relaxing round with my family. What's not to like?

The Good

  • Wide open fairways make it almost impossible to lose a disc
  • Chill rural atmosphere
  • Short distances won't intimidate beginners
  • Holes boast several carpeted tee boxes

The Bad

  • Little diversity from hole to hole
  • Seasoned players will find few challenges
  • Overgrown and holes and unmarked tee boxes
  • $2 greens fee

Memorable Holes

  • #8 - Goes right in front of a cabin...we skipped it because there were so many campers around. Safety hazard?

Must-Use Discs

  • A stable mid-range (Discraft Buzzz)
  • A fairway driver for longer holes (Innova Leopard)