The Cliffs Valley marks silver anniversary.
It was a dazzling fall day, ideal for an exhibition golf match, the weather outdone only by the stunning surroundings.
The star power of the players — PGA Tour champions Paul Azinger, Jim Colbert, Bob Murphy, and Jay Haas, a local favorite — drew a crowd 3,000 fans strong to watch the first-ever round on the gorgeous new course at The Cliffs Valley.
The date was October 2, 1995, and the parkland-style course — designed by Emmy and Peabody Award-winning golf commentator Ben Wright — was soon to be honored as one of Golf Digest’s Best New Courses. Azinger eagled on the No. 1, thrilling onlookers and teeing up an auspicious beginning for the second community at The Cliffs.
“We knew Azinger’s score would be a record for a long time,” recalls Andrew Hiner, who purchased one of the first pieces of property in the fledgling Valley community, back when the golf course was still just “a promise and some mud” and the sales team was operating out of a construction trailer. That eagle — on the first hole, the very first game — felt like an omen for all the good things to come.
Twenty-five years later, The Cliffs Valley continues to evolve its good fortunes. “It’s always been so beautiful here,” says Hiner, adding that he and his wife, Donna, appreciate living amidst so many amenities. “I golf as much as I can and, while we have the opportunity to play all seven of The Cliffs courses, the one here at Valley is still my favorite, even after all these years.”
Nestled at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, The Cliffs Valley makes the most of its ideal location. The colorful golf course — indeed a players’ favorite from the day it opened — is bordered by thousands of acres of protected forest. A classically designed clubhouse boasts stunning mountain views. An expansive wellness complex is complemented by 200 acres of private parks and trails.
“This isn’t just a golf community — it’s a lots-ofactivities community,” says Mike Weitzel. He and his wife, Suz, purchased Valley property during the initial sales blitz, back when he was serving in the United States Air Force and stationed at the Pentagon in Washington DC. “We’ve been members from the beginning, and I always looked forward to retiring here and playing as much golf as I could.”
The Weitzels built their retirement home in 2016. “Absolutely no regrets — except maybe the regret that we didn’t move here sooner,” says Weitzel, noting that he and Suz felt instantly at home, surrounded by friends, the moment they moved in. “We know all our neighbors — and the neighborhood is the entire Valley. I can’t think of anything we are missing.”
At the quarter century mark, The Cliffs Valley isn’t slowing down.
“Every year we are reinventing what we do,” says Jeff Tyrrell, Operations Director at The Cliffs Valley. “The club world is a balance between old traditions and new trends. Sometimes, we incorporate the two together and that’s where the magic happens.”
The Cliffs Valley men’s member-guest tournaments, for example, are a long-standing tradition; one recent stag night featured a scotch tasting along with ax throwing, adding a touch of the cutting edge. “We try to blend the tradition of golf with a fun new activity,” he says. “We never want our offerings to run stagnant.”
To keep amenities current, “we are always looking for the next thing,” says Tyrrell, noting a basketball court was recently repurposed into three pickleball courts, and a volleyball court transitioned into a bocce ball court.
Food & Beverage Manager Shauna Pelfrey has worked at The Cliffs Valley since the clubhouse opened in 2000. She was in college then, picking up waitressing shifts between classes, and later became bar manager, then club concierge.
“I’ve always loved working here and helping to create a vibrant club life for our members,” Pelfrey says. “Our F&B operation is really with the times. The Valley has an awesome team with a lot of creative ideas.”
Tyrrell played golf for a living before getting into club management. “I’ve worked and played golf all over the country, and I’ve never been to a club with a stronger sense of community than The Cliffs Valley,” he says. The camaraderie is palpable, the neighborly spirit rings true. “A stranger could walk in on a busy Friday night and instead of saying ‘Who is that?’ everyone says ‘Hello, who are you? We can’t wait to meet you!”
This story was featured in Cliffs Living magazine. To read more stories like this one and learn more about The Cliffs, subscribe here.