In 1987, Tom Fazio transformed what were abandoned limestone quarries, into one of the most spectacular golf courses in America. Contained within a huge 1320-acre estate, the Quarry Course at Black Diamond Ranch is arguably the acclaimed American’s greatest work. Just an hour and a half from Orlando and Tampa, this is a hidden gem that is well worth the drive!
Black Diamond Ranch celebrates it’s 30th birthday this year. The former grapefruit farm, which is where the club got it’s name, is as amazing to look at as it is to play. Pictures simply do not do it justice!
The Quarry course at Black Diamond Ranch
The course is composed of thirteen outstanding holes and five incredible ones. With 13 through 17 playing through sheer 80-foot cliffs, it’s difficult to disagree. It really is spectacular.
Although the highlight of the round is the dramatic stretch over the closing nine, the quality of what is consistently voted among the state’s best courses is obvious from the very first tee, with magnolias, dogwoods and myrtles framing the picturesque opening nine.
It is the 13th that will really get your heart racing however, with the tee sat seventy-five feet above the quarry floor below. With the chasm facing you and the green surrounded by sand, the hole sets the scene for what is to come, with the sharp elevation changes making for one of the most exhilarating finishing stretches in golf.
Each hole from this point, fashioned over and around the canyon walls is special, but it is the par-4 15th that gains most of the plaudits.
On a cool morning, the 368-yard hole, is a slice of heaven, with fog rising from the lake 60 feet below, lush verdant grass, bright white bunkers and long, dark shadows being cast dramatically across the fairway and green.
Special note must also be given to the par-3 17th. Despite stretching a beastly 204-yards, this hole also demands accuracy from the tee. The quarry wall to the left of the green creates the most imposing of hazards.
The Ranch and Highlands Courses
The Ranch Course offers a different and more gentle challenge, although is also top-class golf course. Framed by a hammocks of oaks, the Ranch is often cited as the favourite course among members.
The closing three holes represent “the three best finishing holes I’ve ever designed,” according to Fazio.
Meanwhile the 9-hole Highlands Course has its own distinctive character and charm.
As with most Floridian golf courses a community has been built around the course. It’s different here though, it is the course that takes centre stage. The luxurious homes are thoughtfully tucked away into wooded landscape and golfers barely notice them.
Beyond the outstanding 45-holes, there is also a newly resigned clubhouse. The building is nestled among the towering pines and is the perfect place to unwind after your round.