Black Diamond Ranch a Florida Classic

by | Feb 4, 2024 | Where to Play

Black Diamond Ranch Remains a Florida Classic

As the state of Florida these days enjoys a second – or perhaps third – surge of golf course openings and construction,  let’s take a look at a classic: Black Diamond Ranch in Lecanto, quietly tucked away in North Central Florida near the pristine Crystal River. Developed by Digital co-founder Stan Olsen, Black Diamond Ranch (1,320 acres) has been one of the Southeast’s best-known private golf communities since it opened in 1987.

By the way, the “Black Diamond’’ name comes from John Taylor, Jr., a citrus packing magnate from Largo, FL, who, in the mid-1940s, named the property “Black Diamond Ranch’’ after a premium grapefruit of the same name.

Other private golf communities in Florida have outstanding golf courses, but only Black Diamond Ranch has The Quarry. The story goes that when Fazio and Olsen surveyed the prospective site for a golf course by air, an adjacent limestone quarry wasn’t in the mix. Fazio told Olsen to buy the quarry, and he would build his golf course.

The result was five holes on the rims – and inside – the quarry that separated Black Diamond Ranch from its contemporaries and quickened Fazio’s ascent as one of his generation’s great golf course architects.

“It doesn’t get old,’’ Black Diamond Ranch Head Golf Professional Dave McQuade said

Nope, in fact, just the opposite. The ‘quarry’’ holes (13-17) are more rugged and beautiful than the hundreds of pictures that have been taken of them over the past 46 years. They begin with a 183-yard (tips) par 3 from a tee box 75 feet above the quarry floor and end with a 214-yard (tips) par 3 to a green boxed in from the left side by the quarry walls.

Legendary golf writer Dan Jenkins called the quarry holes “The 5 Best Consecutive Holes of Golf in the World.’’  Who is going to disagree with His Ownself?

“This is a special place,’’ McQuade said with a grin. “People get to the 13th hole, and their eyes get really big. I always tell them to go up to the top tee and take some pictures.’’

Fazio’s second course at Black Diamond Ranch – The Ranch – opened in 1997. With fairways framed by hammocks of oak trees and set on gently rolling sandy terrain, The Ranch (7,004 yards, par 72) plays a bit more calmly than The Quarry (7,155 yards, par 72) and gives a feel of playing in North Carolina’s sandhills.


Carved through and laid upon rolling sandy mounds, this Fazio favorite is laid naturally onto its site, providing myriad subtle challenges.

“You don’t see any palm trees,’’ McQuade said. “Stan Olsen was big on that.’’

In 2023, Golf course architect Tripp Davis renovated the bunkers on The Ranch. He will return this summer to renovate the greens and tee boxes.

“Tripp is a genius,’’ McQuade said. “Every bunker on The Ranch is riveted sod. The ball tends to come back and settle in the middle.’’

Olsen, who died in 2020, sold Black Diamond Ranch, which includes more than 500 homes, to Escalante Golf in 2011. Along with Black Diamond Ranch, the Fort Worth, Texas-based company’s portfolio includes the fabled Dye Preserve in Jupiter, FL., the International in Bolton, MA., Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club near Portland, OR., and Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg., VA.

Black Diamond Ranch has more than 500 homes and accepts limited outside memberships.

“We’re in kind of a semi-boom,’’ on the real estate side of Black Diamond Ranch, said McQuad. “There are beautiful homes here. We’re getting new members. So everything is working. People come up here and love it. It’s a wonderful, quiet area.’’

Photos courtesy of Black Diamond Ranch.


About the Author

<a href="" target="_self">Steve Pike</a>

Steve Pike

Steve “Spike” Pike is a lifelong journalist whose career covers Major League Baseball, the NFL, and college basketball. For the past 26 years, Spike has been one of the more respected voices in the golf and travel industries, working for such publications as Golfweek, Golf World, and Golf Digest for The New York Times Magazine Group. In 1998, Spike helped launch the website for the PGA of America. As a freelance travel and golf writer, Spike’s travels have taken him around the world. He has played golf from Pebble Beach to St. Andrews, walked the Great Wall of China, climbed an active volcano in the Canary Islands, been on safari in South Africa, and dived with sharks off Guadalupe, Baja California.