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Diamond in the Rough

In 1984, Mr. Stan Olsen, former co-founder of Digital Computer Corporation, had a vision of a World Class golf course community. He found a tract of land in Citrus County, which was once mined for its limestone and turned to the renowned architect, Tom Fazio to design and build two spectacular golf courses. On the site, Mr. Fazio carved 5 of the finest golf holes that one must see to believe. These holes encompass the limestone quarry and utilize the space to develop breathtaking vistas. This stretch of hole is to Black Diamond as Amen Corner is to Augusta National.

The Quarry Course was the first course to open in 1987 and received immediate recognition by the leading golf publications in America and was rated 24th in the nation by Golf Digest after its first full year of operation. It was rated in the top 50 in the world. The Quarry course continues to stay in the top 100 rankings today some 23 years later. We have also received many other awards and rankings including:

• Golf Magazine Living 2007-2008 The 25 Best
Courses You Can Live ON
• Golf week’s Best U.S. Residential Golf Courses 2009 Quarry #1 ranking in Fl.
• Golf Digest’s America’s 100 Greatest Courses 2009-2010 (20 consecutive years)
• Golf Magazine 2007-2008 Top 100 #81
Golf Week’s Best Modern Courses in the U.S.
2009 Quarry Course #41
• Golf Digest’s Best in the State 2009-2010 Quarry #3
• Links Magazine 2008-2009 America’s 100 Premier Properties

The Quarry Course measures 7,062 yards from the Black Tees down to 4,718 on the forward tees and offers 5 sets of tees to challenge all the range of handicaps from the members and guests. In 2001 the greens on the Quarry were converted to Tifeagle bermudagrass from the Tifdwarf. Many of the larger oak trees that cast shade on the greens had to be removed in order to make this a successful project. There are many more oak trees on the course to make up for the loss around the greens. Native trees are the only trees you will find on the Black Diamond courses as Mr. Olsen has preserved the natural theme. Sable Palms, the State Tree of Florida, are the only palm trees on the property and one can count the number of them on one hand. The past few winters have seen over 30 frost delays with temperatures dropping into the teens and twenties on several occasions. Even with the cold weather the courses have held up well due to the winter overseeding using ryegrass on the fairways at 400 lbs./acre and 250 pounds in the rough. Tees receive about 12 pounds of ryegrass seed/ 1,000 square feet and the greens of the Quarry are seeded with 12-14 pounds of Poa trivialsis /1,000 square feet. We attempt to maintain green speeds at 10-11 (weather permitting) in the wintertime by being on a good topdressing program and rolling the greens. Growth regulators are also used to control growth of the tifeagle bermudagrass.

The Ranch Course is the second course at Black Diamond and was constructed in 1993 for the front nine and the back nine was completed in 1997 and is also a Tom Fazio design. Many of the members enjoy playing this course just as much as the Quarry and then some. The course measures 6,985 from the Black tee markers and 5,125 yards from the forward markers with 5 sets to choose from like the other courses. The Ranch Course too has received top 100 rankings in the State rankings in the past years from Golfweek Magazine. The Ranch course has many of the same qualities of the development with beautiful azaleas throughout the course, Florida Slash Pines and majestic Oak Trees that serve as the landscape for the courses. We also have several ghost trees on the course. One would normally call this a scag, a home for woodpeckers, but here these trees serve as a reminder that the tree was an integral part of the landscape. One feature that is common to this part of the state and is seen throughout the property is large sand waste areas that serve as drainage retention areas (DRAs). In a South Florida golf course these areas would be lakes but the sandy soils and the higher elevations would require these areas to be lined in order to retain water. These DRAs serve to reduce the amount of turf thus reducing the amount of water need to maintain the courses. The overseeding on the Ranch Course is the same as the Quarry with the exception of no overseeding in the rough mowed area. Just the greens, fairways and tees are overseeded which doesn’t give the golfers much of a problem hitting from the rough as it has gone dormant in the winter months.

In 1999 the Highlands Course, nine holes opened and features some great elevation changes. Maintenance on this course is very much the same as the Ranch course. The Highlands Course makes a great companion course for any of the two nines of the Ranch Course so members can often choose to mix and match nines as they please. The course measures 3,470 yards from the Black tees and 2,522 yards from the forward tees and also has five sets of markers.

Diamond Dunes is a four-hole course that has a Scottish theme using muellygrass to give the feeling of heather and gorse and a lot of sand waste areas. This course is used for fun and relaxation as it is for walking only. One can practice their short game and carry 3-4 clubs with them, as the whole distances are 100-150 yards long. Don’t forget the rake!

Being part of the “Nature Coast”, it was only natural for Black Diamond to become a certified golf club with the Audubon International program. In 2009, we received our certification with the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses from the Audubon International Society. This achievement could not have been done without the participation of the membership. We have had some wonderful involvement from our committee members. Projects included several which had been started well before starting the certification process. Inventories of birds, animals and plants had been completed which made the certification process easier. Volunteers did a Quail raising program two years in a row in order to repopulate the community. Quail feeders are on property and are filled on a weekly basis so we know they are still part of the family. Turtle platforms have been constructed and placed in the lakes to give the turtles a safe sanctuary and a place to sun themselves in the warm sun. Often these platforms are loaded with no vacancies available so additional platforms needed to be placed in the lakes.
Audubon Golf Outings have been held in the past two years to raise funds for our projects on the courses. Proceeds from these outing have gone for flowering trees on the courses including: Dogwood, Redbud, Fringe and East Palatka Holly Trees. This year we have taken several mature trees that were donated from member’s property and had them transplanted using an outside tree spade company. Another 12 Live Oak trees have been planted on the third hole of the Highlands Course to help frame the fairway and give more definition from the tee not to mention adding some need to keep the tee shot in the fairway.

Animal life is abundant at Black Diamond. We are home to alligators, bobcats, raccoons, opossum, alligators and coyotes and occasionally a Florida Panther has been seen on the property. The bird life here thrives with some 129 species of birds that have been counted on the property.

In the fall of 2009 we started a wild flower program in about 10-12 locations throughout the courses. Thousands seeds were placed in areas throughout the course and we are already seeing some of the seedlings starting to germinate and grow. We will expect to see an abundance of color this spring, summer and fall.

All of this work cannot be done without an outstanding team of management. Our staff consists of 53 employees of which 5 are part time. Matt Pederson is the Superintendent and is in charge of the Quarry Course. He received this position three years ago after managing the Ranch Course for about a year. Matt has strong ambition and has done an excellent job and shows great dedication to detail. He received his Golf Course Operations Diploma from Lake City Community College and recently a B.S Degree from University of South Florida.

Dennis Higgins has been the Assistant Superintendent on the Ranch Course for the last three years and has been with Black Diamond for 18 years. He was previously the Head Irrigation Technician and got the promotion and has worked well into the position.

John Merkl is the Assistant Superintendent of the Highlands Course, Diamond Dunes and is responsible for the maintenance of the driving range and par 3-practice area. John has worked on Florida courses for the past 20 years in a variety of positions including Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent. He has been a part of our team for the past three years.
Paul Newhart is our Equipment Manager, a position that is the most important to the organization. Paul has three men assisting him in the shop and he and his staff keep all of the equipment in top running condition. Kudos Paul.

Last but not least is the person who keeps us all in line and that is Miss Margaret Sterbenc, our Office Manager. Margaret has worked for four Superintendents over the past 15 years at Black Diamond and I hope that I will be her last until we both retire.

Our professional team consists of Mr. Lynn Janson, Head Golf Professional, Mr. Michael Moore, General Manager, Mr. Richard Crisanti, Head Chef and Peggy Gleason, Property Accountant. I consider all of us a close-knit group who want to see our club stay on top and to give the members and their guests the finest membership experience found throughout the world.

The Troon Golf Management Company out of Scottsdale Arizona manages Black Diamond Ranch.

If you have questions for David please use the contact information below
352-746-0404
dcourt@blackdiamondranch.com
www.blackdiamondranch.com

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