Cliff Park golf is back

Historic course, newly restored by DV grad and golf pro, offers bargain prices to get golfers back on the links

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  • The Stead children in a golf cart (clockwise, from top): Kyla, 9; Samantha 7, Hunter 4; twins Sage and Kennedy, 9 months. (Photo provided)

  • The eighth hole at Cliff Park Golf Club.


To get golfers back to Cliff Park, Joe Stead is offering bargain prices, for now:
$15 to walk the course
$20 for 9 holes with cart
$25 for 18 holes with cart
Golf lessons, season passes and leagues are also available.

By Ginny Privitar

— Joe Stead has put his heart and soul — and money — into bringing the Cliff Park golf course back to its days of glory.

After all, Stead cut his teeth on golf here as a child, and later as a member of the golf team at Delaware Valley High School, where he graduated in 1989.

Annie Buchanan was outraged that women were not allowed to play golf, so she built her own 9-hole, wide fairway golf course, the first in America built by a woman and open to women players.

The par 35, 9-hole course, which Stead has leased for ten years from the National Park Service, is back in a big way. He's bought new golf carts, new fairways machines and rough mowers and greens mowers. He’s redesigned tee boxes, added new topsoil, and aerated and re-seeded all the greens with bent grass, thin blades that grow densely for a felt-like smoothness. The rest of the course is rye grass.

As Golf Digest noted in an Aug. 2013 survey story about golfer satisfaction: "The primary driver of satisfaction is definitely the course conditions.” Stead says he's passionate about perfecting his course.

Cliff Park is family friendly, its setting ideal for a day or weekend visit that includes more than golf. It sits inside a gem of a national park: the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, where time slips away along with the pressures of modern life. No homes encroach on the course. Instead, the stunning views take in forested ridges and the abundant local wildlife, which include turkeys, deer, black bears, and bald eagles. Visitors can walk the miles of trails that meander through the park and wind up at the golf course, or they can rent a canoe for a paddle on the Delaware River. Nearby Milford offers more attractions — antiques shops, art galleries, high-end restaurants and hotels, and exquisite Victorian homes and museums.

“Our course is player-friendly for both the novice and the seasoned player, with an array of tee positions," Stead said. “When I wake up in the morning, I love going to work. It’s a wonderful place for golf, recreation and families."

Golf lessons, season passes and leagues are available for bargain prices to bring people back to the course. Visitors pay $15 to walk the course, $20 for 9 holes with cart, and $25 for 18 holes with cart. For now, these prices are good seven days a week.

Presidential connections

Historical sources differ, but land surrounding the Cliff Park Inn and golf course was in the Buchanan family for centuries. An uncle of President James Buchanan made additions to the family's small, original home around 1820. In 1900, Annie Buchanan built or expanded Cliff Park House, named for the 900-foot cliff and its scenic vistas of the Delaware.

Some reports say Annie Buchanan took up golf in Scotland after she was widowed. When she returned to the United States, she was outraged that women were not allowed to play golf, which was becoming popular here. So she built her own 9-hole, wide fairway golf course, the first in America built by a woman and open to women players.

In the 1920s the Buchanan home was transformed into an inn. In 2001, the Buchanan family sold the property to the National Park Service, and it became part of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.

In 2007, Stephanie Brown took over the inn and course and made major improvements. But in 2011, extensive flood damage from Hurricane Irene forced her to close both facilities. The inn needed extensive repairs.

In the early days of movies, Cliff Park was a popular location for filmmakers because its rugged cliffs stood in for the Wild West in some of Tom Mix’s silent movies. Mary Pickford and Walter Miller stood on these cliffs when making the D.W. Griffith’s film “The Informer,” released in 1912. Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. are said to have graced Cliff Park's lawns.

The National Park Service at first tried to obtain a leaseholder for both the inn and the golf course. But when that didn't work the NPS split the property so that the inn and course could be leased separately. The inn still awaits a leaseholder.

The course is located at 155 Cliff Park Rd. in Milford. For more information, call Joe Stead at 570-995-1274 or visit

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