Designed by Tom Fazio and opened in 1987, the Quarry course is not a typical Florida course because it has so many changes in elevation. It is an integral part of what is considered to be the number one golf community in the state. Together with the 18-hole Ranch course, 9-hole Highlands course, 30-bay driving range and 800 homes, this development is contained within 1,320 acres of land.
The Black Diamond Ranch Quarry course features prominently in every recent American golf course survey and it’s obvious straight from the off. Early in your round at the Quarry course you can’t help but marvel at the dogwoods, myrtles and magnolias that line the fairways, but you can’t help your mind racing on in anticipation of what lies ahead. From the 13th to the 17th, the Quarry course takes on its signature character – these holes are fashioned over and around canyon walls which offer excitement and spectacular views.
At the 13th hole, you stand on the elevated tee seventy-five feet above the quarry floor and catch your breath as you look over a huge abyss in front of the green 183 yards away – some have likened it to playing the 8th hole at Pebble Beach. Corey Pavin loves the 15th; in fact, he thinks it’s the most beautiful golf hole in Florida. The tee sits over seventy-five feet above the fairway and water is in play down the entire left side to a green that is tucked around the edge of the water – it's such a stunning hole that it is really hard to focus on the task at hand.
The last of these five fabulous holes is the par three 17th, which is 204 yards of rugged beauty that demands accuracy. There are lateral hazards on both sides of this hole, large bunkers on the right side of the green and quarry walls on the left – a great conclusion to the wonderful Quarry course at Black Diamond Ranch.
I had been wanting to play the Quarry course at Black Diamond Ranch since I first read about it. Six years ago I was in the area but only had a chance to park my car and look at three of the famous five quarry holes.
After having played the Quarry course a week ago, I had mixed feelings. It certainly has a wonderful routing which is no surprise given the owner instructed Tom Fazio to pick the best land and not worry about where the houses would go. Citrus County is known for its rolling land, quite different to most of Florida which is flat with most Florida golf courses incorporating small ponds, lakes, wetlands, or extensive trees. Indeed our group remarked about how the land reminded us of the hill country of Texas. After playing the round, I could only recall two holes that did not have a change in elevation.
The land is very suitable for a golf course where the fairways have many fall-offs valleys and little rolls up and down. This excludes the five quarry holes which are a unique set of holes. I cannot remember playing any consecutive holes like the quarry holes in the 879 different courses I have played.
The bunkering, green surrounds and green surfaces are good. You must have a good short game to avoid a three putt or have a good chance of recovery from near the green. The green side bunkers vary both in depth, shape and number and always seem to blend perfectly against the contours and inner movement of the greens.
The negative to the course is the condition. The green side bunkers and greens are in good shape. The tee boxes, fairways and rough were high, shaggy, with a mixture of grasses and native plants. A practice round for a two day tournament was planned for the day after we played so perhaps the maintenance team was waiting to prepare the course. Yet that would not account for the bare lies and different strains of grass and plants in the rough and near the greens. Chipping near the greens became a guess as to whether the club would bounce or get stuck or slide under the ball.
The club now has 49 holes of golf and our group wondered whether it should be reduced back to 36 holes. Perhaps the membership has aged out as this part of Florida has not boomed yet. In fact the day we played we saw hardly anyone; 7 people on the range who went to a different course, we saw no one outside their house nor a car on the street. It was a bit eerie.
The course plays to 7155 yards for the really gifted players with a rating of nearly 76/146. The tees we played are at 6563 yards playing 73/139.
1. Par 4 - 424/382. This hole plays downhill dogleg left with a sized left swale on the left and a tree line that can block one’s line to the green. Th green is angled consistent with the turn with two bunkers on the left. It’s thin at the front with a central spine that offers quite a lot of break. It is a decent starting hole although the green had some damage at the front.
2. Par 4 - 415/367. A long and wide waste area bunker goes down the left side with a central bunker. The tee plays slightly down and then back up to a green with a single bunker on the left front corner. All of us over-estimated the speed of the green to the back pin position atop a rise.
3. Par 4 - 458/422. This hole plays slightly uphill which adds to the length. There are two fairway bunkers right and three farther up on the right although only the first one was in play for us due to a breeze in our face. The green is on a plateau angled to the left with a false front and a horizontal spine. For me I felt the hole was visually unexciting but it is a difficult hole as evidenced by it being listed as the second hardest on the outward nine.
4. Par 3 - 175/152. This shorter par 3 has four bunkers scattered down the right side of which only the one closest to the green should come into play. The green is relatively long for the length of the hole but I expected better green side bunkering.
5. Par 5 - 577/522. I felt this to be the best hole on the front nine and in the top four holes on the course. The hole plays as a dogleg right and from the tee appears to be a sharper turn than it actually is. It plays downhill than slightly up to the green. At the inner corner of the turn is a bunker followed by a tree. The smart play is left of the tree from which you can see the green. For most players the second shot has to avoid a large sandy waste area down the left and a deep bunker on the right set below the fairway by ten feet. The green is placed off to the right and angled that way. Two bunkers are placed 40 and 20 yards short of the green on the left to try to capture balls from those trying for the green in two. A final bunker is set on the front right corner. The green has a defined higher back half. This is visually a beautiful hole both approaching it as well as standing on the green looking back down the fairway.
6. Par 4 - 458/429. The least interesting hole on the front nine offers a wide fairway and a dip in the land before the green is placed on slightly higher ground. The green is without bunkers and lacks any interesting green surrounds. It’s rated the hardest on the front nine likely due to its length.
7. Par 4 - 339/309. A large bunker and a somewhat intruding tree line protects the right side on this flattish hole.The green sits off to the right and has six bunkers surrounding it with the four on the left feeling more like they are fronting the green since most players go left off the tee. The green is large and quick with clever shaping where none of us correctly judged the break. It is a fun hole.
8. Par 3 - 224/195. The longest par 3 on the course plays downhill with double bunkers on the left. The green does not hold shots that lack height. The green is defined by many slopes and a central hump which I considered to be one of the better greens on the front nine.
9. Par 5 - 544/507. This is the first hole to incorporate water. The long hitters will attempt to carry the pond but it would take a well struck shot to clear it if aiming for the direction of the green on this dogleg right. There is a bunker after the pond on the right but I suspect if someone enters it they are not too unhappy. Shorter hitters will play down a somewhat narrow fairway on the left although this brings trees into play both left and forward. After the pond the hole rises with the fairways having many undulations to it. The green is shallow as it is angled to the left with two bunkers on the front corners and another set off further right. This green has a defined tier about a third from the left edge. I did not see it and caught the slope making my putt that I thought would be ten feet become forty feet. I did like the hole, just not quite as much as the fifth.
10. Par 4 - 471/435. Playing alongside the first tee this hole drops downhill from the tee before leveling off. This sharp dogleg right has three bunkers on the fairway right alongside the tree line. The green has a bunker on the front right and rear left and is thin and long with gentle fall-offs on all sides. It is considered the second hardest hole on the back nine but I did not understand why given the difficulty of some of the quarry holes.
11. Par 4 - 401/356. Much like ten is the opposite of one, eleven is the opposite of two in that the long sandy waste area goes down the right side instead of the left side. There are three scattered bunkers down the left side for those playing away from the waste area. This hole is also relatively flat with another bunker less green.
12. Par 4 - 435/417. The hole doglegs to the right with three inner corner bunkers and a grouping of trees. There are two bunkers placed on the right below the green which is on slightly higher ground. This is the least interesting hole on the back nine.
13. Par 3 - 183. One has to walk up the stairs about 20 feet higher for an amazing view and tee shot across the gaping canyon of the quarry and to see all of the quarry holes. While not quite as visually appealing as the tee shot on fifteen, this is a splendid long view. The green is surrounded by three bunkers left and right which provide a bit of bailout from the quarry fronting the green and continuing down the right side. The green tilts towards the quarry canyon and is narrow at the rear. It is a very attractive golf hole but had some of the worst conditioned grass off the left side of the green.
14. Par 5 - 529/469. You play away from the quarry drop off down the left side where bigger hitters will carry as much as then can because they can easily run through the fairway either into a bunker on the right, a line of trees or possibly onto the entrance road. Another set of double bunkers on the right is further up. The hole climbs to higher ground for those playing out to the right of the green. The green sits sharply to the left along the edge of the quarry wall and is a Punchbowl green about 20 feet below the fairway preceding it. There is a long grassy area that one cannot see prior to the beginning of the green. While the hole can be dramatic I thought it too short to be truly compelling.
15. Par 4 - 371/350. One of the most picturesque inland holes in the USA follows. Playing from the top of the quarry with a drop of perhaps 75 feet, the green sits at water level off to the left at the bottom of the quarry. The right side of the fairway is the high ground of the quarry wall which offers a lost ball. The fairway is somewhat wider than it appears although it pinches narrower where tHe second bunker comes into the fairway. There are three bunkers left of which the first two are long, thin sandy bunkers of perhaps 80 yards each but a ball entering them from the tee likely will still run through to the pond. The third bunker continues to the front of the green. The green sits behind this bunker and hard against the pond to the left side. For those trying to get close to the green off the tee a small pot bunker is on the right side of the fairway about 80:yards from the green. The green itself is flattish without a lot of contour. It is easily the most visually attractive hole on the golf course. It is rated the hardest hole on the back nine which did not make sense to me.
16. Par 4 - 435/385. I would play this hole differently as the tee sits well below the fairway offering a blind tee shot. The quarry rim must be carried from the tee with the fairway off to the right. I did not quite carry the rim and was fortunate to find my ball about ten feet below the fairway. The hole wraps itself around the quarry rim with the quarry always on the left as the hole curves left. There are three scattered bunkers down the left side as well as one on the right for those trying to play safe off the tee. A final center line bunker is placed about 65 yards short of the green. The green is placed hard against the quarry fall-off on the left side but without bunkers. What I also admired about this hole was the mounds placed down the right side of the fairway and the rolling nature of the fairway. We felt this to be the most difficult hole on the golf course yet it is rated the number twelve index.
17. Par 3 - 214/207. The final quarry hole is also the most difficult par 3 on the course due to the green sitting about 50 feet blow the quarry wall on its left side which offers no relief should you hit it. One must carry the ball about 180 yards to clear the brush and rocks of the quarry. The hole has no bunkers because if you miss to the right you will will have a lost ball. You need to hit a straight shot here to have any chance of par. It is rated the number six index which made sense to us. I really liked the hole.
18. Par 5 - 502/476. Given that one’s scorecard can be wrecked by holes level-seventeen, the final hole represents a chance at redemption. This short par 5 plays uphill as a dogleg left and offers a lot of trees and bunkers. It is the most heavily bunkered hole on the course but the fairway seems to offer sufficient width. There is a bunker on the inner corner and two on the outer corner which is a design feature I do not favor. While the fairway seems to offer enough room, the reality is that one must be in the middle as the fairway pinches together due to tree lines on both sides shrinking the fairway buy almost two thirds. One has to thread the needle to put themselves in position to either reach the green or attack it. For most players the second shot needs to favor the right side after passing through those trees as there is an 80 yard long bunker down the left side. Five bunkers make up the green complex.with very good micro-contouring surrounding the green. If one thought that eighteen might be a letdown after the quarry holes, this is not the case as this is a quality hole on its own.
If I dismiss the conditioning issues of the course, this is a course that one could play everyday and enjoy it. It offers a very good balance of difficulty, strategy and memorability. While one will always remember the quarry holes, the other thirteen holes are good. I could see this course being anywhere from fifth to top fifteen in the state of Florida. This course for many years was listed in the top 100 in the USA and would be worthy of consideration with better conditioning.
Pure luck: I read about the 5 unique quarry holes before I was asked by one of my playing partner at Southern Hills Plantation if I was interested to play Black Diamond Range the following week.
The holes around the quarry are so unique, one forgets that the other holes are pretty decent too! Other reviewers have described the holes pretty good, so no need to go over them again.
If you don't succeed in securing a round of golf at Black Diamond, Brooksville also has a nice couple of holes around a quarry, Not the real deal, but it's a deal.
Black Diamond Ranch is one of those private gated communities that has had situations. There are 45 holes here along with a small practice course as well. The center piece of the community is the Quarry. The Tom Fazio course delivers the quarry in a beautiful crescendo of the course. Holes 14 to 17 are around the quarry. A risk reward par 5 14 to start. A fabulous hit into the quarry most photographed 15th. A fabulous par 4 16 and a par 3 17. The conditions are excellent. The contours of the property are very good and deliver a great design. They offer stay and play for anyone which speaks to their financial plight. It's a great course and sits not too far from World Woods. That's the play. Go enjoy them all.
A private gem that hosts many charity events, FL State Golf events and other ways to play. Don't forget your camera, the holes in and around the old abandoned quarry are spectacular! Always in pristine condition.
This is rated way too low., much better course than TPC Sawgrass. I will talk about the Quarry holes but the other 13 are pretty darn nice, too. The first hole welcomes you and the second hole challenges you. There is a large bunker bisecting the fairway. Left of the bunker will provide a shorter approach, but right has a better angle. The 4th hole is a par three downhill. Take one club less. The par 5 5th has a severe left to right slope. This forces most tees shots right and leaves you with a downhill lie. For the second the best landing area is left of the green. The 8th is a long par 3 guarded by spectacle bunkers. It is one of the more undulating greens on the course. The 9th hole is a wonderful par 5. A dogleg right with a large water hazard in the knee. On your second shot you have a choice of two fairways. I believe the right side gives you a better look albeit a bit longer.
The 10th is a long downhill dogleg right, 11 & 12 are okay. Let’s get to The Quarry. For those unfamiliar with Black Diamond, writer Dan Jenkins refers to a section of the Quarry course as “the best five consecutive holes of golf anywhere in the world." The par 3 13th is 180 yards over an 80 foot deep chasm. The par 5 14th is more intimidating than it plays. Don’t be a hero, stay right and get on in regulation. The par 4 15th is the signature hole. From an elevated tee it plays shorter than you think. Aim just left of the pot bunker. I think the 16th is the toughest hole on the course. It is not conducive to hookers. The 200+ yard par 3 17th is no slouch either. Take an extra club, if you do not hit the green you are in trouble. The 18th is a good finishing hole but anti-climactic.
Awesome golf course!!!
There's one specific characteristic that is the first among all others when top quality courses are present -- the land the course occupies. In my mind, the actual site is no less than 60% of my focus on any review I write. No question -- Mother Nature plays a big time role for so many golf courses -- and those blessed with such terrain clearly have a leg-up when bringing such courses to life.
Black Diamond is an atypical Sunshine State Course. The facility is located in the rolling "horse country" of Citrus County. That means the dullsville dreary monotony of flat-as-a pancake layouts overdosed with water hazards and engulfed with invasive housing -- which constitutes 80% of Florida golf -- is thankfully missing here.
The focus at Black Diamond has always been on the quarry holes and they clearly deliver the goods when playing them. The holes are squeezed all together and come at the end of the round which is a good thing because if they came earlier the build-up and subsequent letdown afterwards would have likely negated their full impact.
The long par-5 14th is a classic Cape-like hole and it's beautifully presented as it winds around the top of the quarry's rim. The long par-4 16th is one of the State's best holes -- a demanding long par-4 that wraps itself around the top of the quarry's rim and has a putting surface perched so near to the edge that the slightest pulled approach shot will be a quick casualty when the pin is placed in the deep left corner of the green. The long par-3 17th is also well done -- plunging down into the quarry with a difficult green to hit.
But, the Quarry Course provides much more than a five-hole Steven Spielberg odyssey moment.
The rolling nature of the land allowed architect Tom Fazio to create a layout that illustrates his clear talents. The layout provides plenty of diversity -- holes that move up and down and architectural inclusions that match up well. Credit Fazio for not going over-the-top with various design inclusions as he has often done with other courses he has worked. For Fazio -- less can be more but Tom sometimes has not realized that with other projects.
The Quarry is a great intersection in providing for membership play -- yet having enough elasticity with tee and pin placements to be a much sterner test. The wherewithal to blend such approaches is no easy task and Fazio has often shown an inclination to elevate the "eye candy" side above all else.
The key at the Quarry is that Fazio provided for an outward nine that is quite good -- a mixture of holes and movements. There's no question the quarry holes would be the dominant talking point for those playing the course but Fazio did not simply allow the entire focal point to rest upon just a few holes.
The center-placed fairway bunker at the 2nd is a good addition and the long par-4 3rd is a quality challenge -- both off the tee and on the approach. The long par-3 8th is a fierce hole with ever-present sand hugging the left side. At the concluding par-5 9th you finish the side with a dog-leg right hole that tempts the player in attempting the bold shot off the tee in order to get into position for a go at the green in two shots.
Florida golf does have its moments -- albeit one needs to look for them given the profusion of so much drab design. The Quarry is one of Tom Fazio's really top tier efforts. While others such as Shadow Creek in Nevada often get more attention - it is here in central Florida that Black Diamond's Quarry Course is worthy of serious top ten consideration in the State.
by M. James Ward
The front nine of the course is terrific, but nothing compared to the back nine. The holes are artfully designed and the course was in fabulous condition, featuring generous, sculpted fairways. Fazio may be the best golf course architect of his time. His courses are challenging for good players, yet fun for less skilled players. It’s a win-win combination. Unlike most similar developments, the homes here do not encroach on the golf course, and unlike most developers, Stan Olsen maintained the natural beauty of the course’s surroundings. Black Diamond also may be the first golf course built in an abandoned quarry. The five holes in the quarry have brought notoriety to Black Diamond Ranch. Tom Fazio later told me on the phone that during his first inspection of the property, Stan Olsen had not bothered to show him the quarry; it never occurred to him that it would be part of the golf course. When he finally saw it, Fazio knew the quarry would be an integral part of his plan. Suddenly, Fazio told me, other developers and golf course architects were looking for abandoned quarries.
I would love to play this place every day. In fact, I liked it so much I would rank Black Diamond in my Top 10. Larry Berle.