Connect with us

Courses

Black Diamond Ranch: One of Florida’s hidden gems lies at the Quarry

Published

on

Black Diamond Ranch

If there’s one thing that the Sunshine State has in no short supply it’s exceptional destinations for golf. From the Panhandle to Jacksonville, down to Naples and Miami, with Orlando and Tampa in between, one could spend a lifetime in Florida and barely scratch the surface of its great courses — this, I speak from experience. And while several of the state’s notable courses are showcased each year during the PGA Tour’s “Florida Swing,” those willing to get off that beaten path will discover a jewel that outranks them all: Black Diamond Ranch.

To say that Black Diamond is on the road less traveled might be an understatement; the sleepy town of Lecanto, about an hour north of Tampa, being about the last place one would expect to find a highly acclaimed golf course. Then again, there are countless examples of incredible golf found in the middle of nowhere, and Black Diamond certainly belongs on that list.

Black Diamond also happens to be one of Florida’s most exclusive private clubs, which kept it out of reach for yours truly for roughly 20 years. That recently changed thanks to the introduction of its “Stay & Play” package, which includes accommodations in a fully furnished home, and one round on each of the club’s two Tom Fazio designed courses. And so it was that a buddies trip to Black Diamond Ranch was finally put on the books.

From the moment we arrived, the hospitality at Black Diamond rivaled that of Florida’s many award-winning golf resorts. Both the staff and members were very welcoming, admittedly something I didn’t expect, and as if our anticipation wasn’t already through the roof, the numerous statements of “wait till you see the Quarry” had us all practically giddy with excitement. The members at Black Diamond are obviously quite proud of their club — and for good reason.

The Quarry Course owes its name to the five-hole stretch on the back nine that surrounds a pair of abandoned limestone quarries. But five holes does not a golf course make, and the build up to the quarry is both a challenging and memorable test of golf. The elevation changes throughout the course — notably the opening tee shot and the par-3 No. 4 — are a pleasant surprise in a state not known for its topography. Meanwhile, the trademark Fazio bunkering combined with small, slick and elevated greens served endless amounts of frustration for our group. It was the 15-to-25 mph winds, however, that proved especially troublesome. The uphill par-5 No. 9 played directly into the teeth of the wind, rendering the forced carry across a pond impossible, and making a hole that was already playing brutally long even longer.

Ironically, the last two holes before the quarry are the only weak ones on the course, perhaps an intentional breather before the thrill ride that begins on the 13th tee. Like any great roller coaster, the quarry holes begin with an excitement-building climb up a set of steps before revealing arguably the most spectacular golf panorama in Florida. It seemed almost inconceivable that there were still four more to come just like it.

Black Diamond Ranch

The roller coaster ride continued on, with still more inspiring moments and a host of emotions. There was the delightful sunken green on the par-5 No. 14, the fun, yet intimidating, drive on the par-4 No. 15, and the terrifying tee ball on the tremendously difficult par-4 No. 16, all of which kept us all in a state of awestruck bliss.

After four holes of unbridled excitement, it was anguish that besieged our group on the par-3 No. 17. The last of the quarry holes played 207 yards to a green at the base of the 80-foot deep chasm. It also was dead into the wind and setting sun, which prevented us from seeing where our 3-hybrids were landing. We soon learned that a gripped down driver was probably the correct club, as none of us cleared the pit, leading to an unthinkable combined score of 24 from a group of guys with an average handicap in the single digits.

Black Diamond Ranch

And yet, none of us cared. The quarry holes had just provided the most exciting stretch of golf our regular game had ever experienced together. The collection is easily the most visually stunning in the state of Florida, with a sense of drama and delight that I’ve only felt previously at Pebble Beach and Whistling Straits.

The experience at Black Diamond Ranch, however, is far more than just five holes. From the comfortable accommodations, to the exceptional service and welcoming atmosphere, to the award-winning golf on the Ranch and Quarry courses, Black Diamond deserves a place among Florida’s great golfing landmarks. So if you’re planning a buddies trip to the Sunshine State, consider adding a night at Black Diamond. Right about the 13th tee on the Quarry, you’ll be really glad you did.

Your Reaction?
  • 11
  • LEGIT1
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP3
  • OB0
  • SHANK1

D.J. Jones is a lifelong golfer and plays to a 6 handicap when he’s not too busy pursuing his other great passion – travel. Tag along with his golf and travel adventures on his blog, The World of Deej.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Courses

Hidden Gem of the Day: Swope Memorial Golf Course in Kansas City

Published

on

These aren’t the traditional “top-100” golf courses in America, or the ultra-private golf clubs you can’t get onto. These are the hidden gems; they’re accessible to the public, they cost less than $50, but they’re unique, beautiful and fun to play in their own right. We recently asked our GolfWRX Members to help us find these “hidden gems.” We’re treating this as a bucket list of golf courses to play across the country, and the world. If you have a personal favorite hidden gem, submit it here! 

Today’s Hidden Gem was submitted by GolfWRX member CVC (with a +1 from sabram), and it’s called Swope Memorial Golf Course in Kansas City. Here’s why it was submitted, according to CVC:

“This A.W. Tillinghast design sits on hills in the middle of Swope Park in Kansas City. A municipal course managed by Orion Management Systems, it offers amazing view of the Kansas City skyline, typical Tillinghast guarded greens that reward good shots by funneling the ball toward the hole. Opened in 1935, it features mature trees and elevation changes that make it a pleasure to play.”

According to the Swope Memorial website, prices range from $17 during Twilight hours, to $50 during peak hours on the weekends.

Check out more photos of the course below (provided by GolfWRX user sabram), and click here to enter your favorite local hidden gem!

Click here to enter your favorite local hidden gem!

Your Reaction?
  • 25
  • LEGIT1
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK3

Continue Reading

Courses

Hidden Gem of the Day: Sand Creek Station in Newton, Kansas

Published

on

These aren’t the traditional “top-100” golf courses in America, or the ultra-private golf clubs you can’t get onto. These are the hidden gems; they’re accessible to the public, they cost less than $50, but they’re unique, beautiful and fun to play in their own right. We recently asked our GolfWRX Members to help us find these “hidden gems.” We’re treating this as a bucket list of golf courses to play across the country, and the world. If you have a personal favorite hidden gem, submit it here! 

Today’s Hidden Gem is called Sand Creek Station located in Newton, Kansas, and it was submitted by GolfWRX Member grandslambound. Here’s why the course was submitted…

“This place is pure. Host of the 2014 U.S. Pub Links Championship, and last years NJCAA Jayhawk conference championship. Played it a couple weeks ago for $28 bucks with a cart and 2 drink tickets. It is a big 7359 from the tips and the wind is always whipping. The 10th hole is with out a doubt the signature hole, a 640 yard par 5 with water left and OB right on the tee shot and the water right and OB left on any lay-up or approach. This hole is so cocky they give you a free tee shirt if you birdie it. (Doug Ghim eagled it in the 2014 US Pub Links final round) It includes many great architecture elements including a redan green on the par 5 4th. Not to mention how great of condition it was in when I played it as well. This place is a steal.”

He’s not kidding. According to Sand Creek Station’s website, the course ranges from $24 to $49, and those prices include cart and range balls.

Check out more photos of the course below, and if you have a Hidden Gem (under $50) you think belongs on our list, submit it here!

Submit your favorite local course under $50 here!

Your Reaction?
  • 35
  • LEGIT1
  • WOW5
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK0

Continue Reading

Courses

Hidden Gem of the Day: Cedar Crest, home of the 1927 PGA Championship

Published

on

These aren’t the traditional “top-100” golf courses in America, or the ultra-private golf clubs you can’t get onto. These are the hidden gems; they’re accessible to the public, they cost less than $50, but they’re unique, beautiful and fun to play in their own right. We recently asked our GolfWRX Members to help us find these “hidden gems.” We’re treating this as a bucket list of golf courses to play across the country, and the world. If you have a personal favorite hidden gem, submit it here! 

Today’s hidden gem, submitted by GolfWRX Member Simp, is called Cedar Crest Golf Course in Dallas, Texas. If you’re a golf historian, you may recognize the course (formerly known as Cedar Crest Country Club) as the host of the 1927 PGA Championship. That was back when the PGA Championship was a match play event, and in the 1927 competition, Walter Hagen defeated Joe Turnesa 1up.

Today, according to Cedar Crest’s website, rates range from $13 to $48 dollars depending on time of day and the season, which has to make it one of the most affordable major championship venues to play in the world.

Check out more photos of the course, submitted by GolfWRX Member Simp, below, And if you have a Hidden Gem (under $50) you want to submit, click here.

Submit your favorite local Hidden Gem here.

Your Reaction?
  • 43
  • LEGIT6
  • WOW1
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP1
  • OB0
  • SHANK3

Continue Reading

19th Hole

Facebook

Trending