I've said it before and I'll say it again: The Quarry course at Black Diamond Ranch may not be the best pure golf course in Florida – critics can argue that endlessly – but it is certainly the most spectacular.
I still remember the first time I played it, when I stepped up to the first quarry hole, No. 13. My group included several club members, and unbeknownst to me they had been awaiting my reaction. I didn't disappoint them. Even though I had heard about the "canyon" holes, I was still stunned by the sheer spectacle of the scene.
Now it's a couple of years later, and I was playing it again recently with a couple of first-timers; I awaited their reactions like those before me, and again they didn't disappoint. It's that kind of course – it can take your breath away.
It's actually better now. How can that be, you ask, since the course has been on Golf Digest's America's 100 Greatest Golf Courses list for 20 straight years? Well, Black Diamond Ranch was acquired in May by a company called Escalante Golf, owners and operators of luxury golf properties, after owner and founder Stan Olsen retired.
There was some reluctance on the part of the members when Escalante let it be known they wanted to change groundskeepers. There is no dissent now. The course is simply in perfect shape, the best I've ever seen it.
The course shows off renowned architect Tom Fazio at his best – his distinctive bunkering, his imaginative routing, his creative green complexes – and that's before you even get to the holes built around the retired limestone quarries.
It really is a spectacular place, from the clubhouse and grounds to the two courses, the Quarry and the Ranch, which I will get to soon. But, enough of me blathering on. Take a look for yourself at the video below.