Lloyd M. Clifton, Sr., a Fellow of the American Society of Golf Course Architects and a founding member of the design firm Clifton, Ezell, Clifton Golf Design Group (CEC Design Group), died Dec. 10, 2013. He was 89.
Clifton worked with fellow ASGCA member Kenny Ezell, and his son, ASGCA member George Clifton, at the firm, which has offices based in Deland, Fla. and Wildwood, Fla.
Clifton and his firm are perhaps best known for their design work and master planning at The Villages–which has grown from a 9-hole Bahia golf course when it opened in the late 1970s to the largest golf community in the world—a retirement community in Central Florida which CEC Golf Design has developed 603 of the 630 holes planned. .
Clifton’s layouts included Grey Oaks, Naples, Fla: Hunters Creek, Orlando, Fla.; Highland Creek, Charlotte, N.C.; Debary Plantation, Debary, Fla. and Plantation Bay, Ormond Beach, Fla.
A standout high school football and baseball player, Clifton played both sports at Stetson University, and advanced to playing semi-professional baseball in Florida. When knee injuries kept him from pursuing a career in sports, he enrolled in the horticulture program at the University of Florida. He began his involvement in golf as the golf course superintendent with the City of Daytona Beach’s municipal courses. A move to Orlando as a construction/golf superintendent at Rio Pinar Golf Club in 1957 opened the door to his start in golf design.
Clifton’s background as an agronomy consultant led to his involvement in more than 150 golf course projects. He was one of the first recipients of the Florida Turfgrass Association’s “Wreath of Grass” award in 1961. His first course, West Orange CC, was completed in 1964 and he designed 16 others before forming Lloyd Clifton and Associates with George and Ken in 1987 which soon became Clifton Ezell Clifton.
Clifton was elected a member of ASGCA in 1993 and became a Fellow in 2005. Clifton is survived by his wife of 65 years Bonnie Jean; his sons Lloyd Jr. (Clif), George and Craig; their wives; six grandchildren and five great grandchildren.