Review of The Cliffs at Possum Kingdom in Graford
Wow, this course needs to be on your bucket list! The Cliffs Golf Course is a Texas Outside Favorite (Best Resort Golf Courses in Texas) because few courses in Texas can match it's scenic beauty, variety, layout, challenges, and value. The Cliffs Resort, the Spa, and the Golf Course sit on a tall bluff 200 feet above beautiful Possum Kingdom Lake and several of the golf holes play close to the bluff which provides magnificent panoramic views of the lake. I'll be very surprised if you can resist teeing up a couple old golf balls and blasting them from the top of the bluff and into the lake a good 200 feet below on hole number 9!
We last played The Cliffs at Possum Kingdom in May 2018 and here is a quick update: in June 2011 a huge fire destroyed over 200,000 acres and over 150 homes around Possum Kingdom Lake and it scorched several hundred acres within The Cliffs Resort; several homes and resort structures at The Cliffs were destroyed; but the course was untouched and is still as good as ever. Hundreds of trees were planted and other trees, brush, and fauna are quickly growing back - it won't be too long before the landscape returns to it's natural beauty. The course is still very scenic with deep ravines, trees, native landscaping, and the deep blue waters of Possum Kingdom Lake. In May, the conditions were the best we have ever seen them - the greens were near perfect, the fairways (outside of some hog damage and few damaged areas were great), and the bunkers were good.
When you visit The Cliffs, bring plenty of balls and your "A" game because this is one of the most challenging courses in Texas (slope of 143) thanks to strategically placed bunkers, natural landscape hazards, sloping/rolling and contoured fairways, forced carries over ravines and valleys, berms and mounding with very thick native grass, blind shots, water, elevation changes, and rock outcroppings - everything that makes golf fun!
In addition, you will face some tough approaches to well protected smaller than average greens. The good news - when you do hit the greens, they are fairly easy to read and run true and at a good speed.
Course management, risk taking, strategic shot making, lots of golf balls and patience is what it takes to score well at The Cliffs. The secret to having fun playing The Cliffs is to forget about your score and the cost of golf balls, move up a set of tee boxes, and just relax, enjoy the scenery, and have a good time - if you want to score well go to your local boring muni course. Do not let the challenging reputation of The Cliffs discourage you from playing it - this 4 and a half star Golf Digest rated course is a must play. The Cliffs made our list of the Best Courses in Texas and the Best Resort Courses in Texas.
In addition to some of the most scenic holes in Texas, The Cliffs is also home to some of the best par 3's. For example, number 15 is a 162 yard par 3 with elevated tee boxes 40 to 100 feet above a postage stamp green next to a small pond - all of which sits in a deep tree covered ravine. And #9 plays along a sheer cliff 200 feet above Possum Kingdom Lake - this hole made our list of the Most Scenic Golf Holes in Texas.
What makes The Cliffs fun is the wide variety of holes, each of which has it's own personality and characteristics - no two holes are the same and 17 is the only hole where you can see the pin and have a straight ahead shot to the green. You won't forget most of the holes at The Cliffs. For example, #8 is a 555 yard beauty that horseshoes around a very deep ravine on it's way to a oblong green overlooking a deep ravine, the lake, and some beautiful homes lining the cliff. On the way to the green you'll have to nail the tee shot as well as the approach shot, avoid a couple strategically placed bunkers and lots of berms, manage the rolling and sloping fairways, and make a tough decision on a couple risk reward shots - "how much of that ravine can I carry?" "do I lay up or go for the green?" In fact, the eighth hole is one of my favorite holes of all the courses we have played in Texas - very challenging and unique, visually stunning, a fantastic risk reward opportunity, and fun to try and master.
Conditions at The Cliffs can be a little variable - the fairways and greens are consistently in very good but not great condition - you'll encounter several bare spots on some holes for example. The greens on the front were in good condition and the greens are the back nine were very good. The rough varied from thin and playable but around some of the berms, it was very thick and hard to find and then hit your ball.
The greens range in shape and size - from small to huge. Most are relatively flat while others have plenty of slope, tiers, and undulation. They typically run at about average speed (8 to 9), are pretty easy to read, and they run true.
The Cliffs Resort is about 45 minutes north west of Fort Worth and our recommendation is to make your trip to play The Cliffs a weekend adventure. You'll want to play this course twice! The Cliffs Resort has Stay & Play packages that include golf and a stay in the Inn or the Villas. When you're done with golf you can enjoy the bar, restaurant, pool, fitness center, or rent a boat at The Cliff's marina and enjoy one of the best lakes in Texas. After all that, stop by the Spa for a massage. To learn more about why we like The Cliffs, read our review of The Cliffs Stay & Play.
The Cliffs Resort is one of the best resorts in Texas and the golf course is a must play. You'll really enjoy a weekend stay here. Have fun.
Rates: $49.00 to $89.00
Service is very good and country friendly. The pro shop has a very good supply of all the basics. The practice facilities are adequate. And the Resort amenities are excellent. The Grill and Bar are very good. A new head pro, who we know from WinStar, joined The Cliffs in April 2018 and I'm confident he'll be a welcome addition to The Cliffs.
Here's How Texas Outside Determines the Scorecard Rating
The Texas Outside rating scale ranges from 1 to 10 – a perfect 10 course would be something like this: links along a cliff overlooking the Pacific ocean and bordered by tall trees; lush fairways on rolling hills with lots of natural hazards; water (which is crystal clear) on most of the holes; immaculate greens (but they are undulating and tough); lots of variety and character (each hole is completely different and includes blind shots, elevation changes, doglegs, and significant challenges); perfectly manicured traps with the whitest and prettiest sand you’ve ever seen; a nice club house with great food and a 19th hole; a GPS; plenty of beverage carts or your own cooler and ice; and it only costs $40 bucks! What this means is that you probably won’t find any 10s in Texas – try Cabo San Lucas, Pebble Beach, or some of the Hawaii courses!
All of the above determines the overall score for the golf course. In other words, we like courses that are pretty, fun, very challenging with a lot of variety, and fairways and greens in excellent condition – all for $40. We also tend to play the courses that are affordable for the masses, which means in the $30 to $80 range. We rate hard and we haven’t found a 10 in Texas yet – don’t worry we haven’t given up and we’re still looking.