The Cliffs at Mountain Park – Played 2014
- Rankings: None of the four lists
- Location: 154 River Road, Travelers Rest, South Carolina
- Year: 2013
- Architect: Gary Player
- Course Access: Private
- Walking Rules: Carts Available
Score Card Information:
- Black: 6,744 yards, Par 72
- Silver: 6,202 yards, Par 72
- Gold: 5,663 yards, Par 72
- Copper: 5,019 yards, Par 72
The Cliffs communities are quite an operation. They have seven golf courses around the upstate of South Carolina and Asheville. The scenery ranges from the mountains to lakes and everything in between. There are many beautiful houses and views. The development has a strong connection to wellness and that fits in with the Cliffs at Mountain Park where I got to play recently.
The course was designed by Gary Player and opened in September 2013. In tying into the development’s philosophy on wellness Mr. Player wanted the course to be walkable. We played it in a cart, but it seemed to be a manageable walk. The fairways are zoysia and the greens are bermuda. As you will see in the photographs, native grasses were used throughout.
I was here for an alumni tournament for my high school and was paired with my old high school golf coach! We have previously played at the Cliffs Valley Course, so this was a nice change of pace. I always appreciate the opportunity to get on a great private track especially when it’s one I have never had the pleasure of playing.
I was fortunate enough to get a shot of the entrance since no one was turning in behind me!
This was the first course I have chronicled where I was playing captain’s choice. As a result, I missed some shots and I didn’t have many third shots on par 5’s since we always went for them in two. The format did however leave me stress-free to take pictures! We played the silver tees that came in at 6,202 yards. All yardages are from those tees.
Hole 1 – 384 yards – Par 4
The course has a relatively benign start. Anything from driver to long iron will work here.
Our team obviously hit driver! No strategy needed today. The photo below of the second shot is from about 85 yards out. The green is slightly raised. One thing to notice is that there is no rough around the green. The course didn’t have any rough except for the native grass areas. As a result, everything played extremely firm and fast.
The second is a solid one shot hole. The grounds crew gave us a sucker pin for the tournament knowing everyone would go for it. A flag in the middle or front makes the hole play much easier. This particular pin brings that nasty bunker on the right into play.
The line on the third is a draw just inside the fairway bunkers on the right. Any shots too far to the left could have tree trouble.
At the distance we were playing the course there were a lot of short holes. This held true for the par fives in particular. Take the drive left of the bunkers with a draw and it will be in great position to go for it. There is a creek running up the left side to take into account.
Smack in the middle of all these short holes is a stout par four. Just bomb one down the middle here.
I didn’t get the tee shot here, but it was pretty straightforward. The challenge on this hole is the second shot. The green is fronted by a water hazard and it is a small target. The tree on the left also obscures the shot.
Honestly, I felt this hole was kind of squeezed into the property. It was such a short hole with the front pin and downhill slope.
This hole is a dogleg to the left. The tee shot calls for a draw off the bunker.
This is a really good short par five. The optimal shot is a fade starting a few yards inside the left bunker in the distance. At this point, I was starting to the think that Mr. Player really likes bunkers!
This portion of the course brought us out into the open. It had a bit of a linksy feel to it. The line ten yards in from the left side of the huge bunker in the center.
I loved this little par three. While the water takes away from the links feel, it was still a great hole. It was quite windy when we played our tee shots which was a nice challenge with a wedge in my hand. Long is no good here.
Another good hole around the pond. There is plenty of room in this fairway so just bomb driver at the bunkers.
More bunkers! Take it in the middle of all that sand, but keep in mind that driver may not be needed.
This is a stout hole. The best line is at the roof in the distance. I can tell you from personal experience that it is a tough hole from the right fairway bunker.
Here we have another good par five. A good drive will be to the left of the lone tree down the middle.
This hole requires a solid tee shot. Lots of bunkers to avoid, but anything on the green will funnel towards the middle.
I love to see a drivable par four. Since this was a captain’s choice tourney we had the opportunity for an assistant pro to hit our tee ball. He put us on the green! That’s him in the photo below, thanks for the bomb!
This hole has a pretty wide fairway. Pick a comfortable shot and play for it here.
The course was really fun to play. That was surely aided by the format, but I think it would be the same result if you were playing your own ball. The only complaint I would have is that the grass was still growing in when we played. The grass will be much better after another year of growing. There were some spots that would result in a less than ideal lie, but that shouldn’t be a problem as the course matures.
In regard to the design, I was interested to play a course with virtually no rough. It was a different set of challenges when almost every shot that missed its target would roll unimpeded into a collection area or a bunker. The shots into the greens would definitely roll away if they didn’t catch the putting surface. As the photos show, there were bunkers all over the place waiting to catch wayward shots. The course was visually different from a lot of places I have played and I enjoyed the change.
They were just in the process of building the clubhouse so I didn’t get any photos of that. The club is definitely in its infancy, but I think that it can grow into a very fun and playable track.