The Tampa Bay area has been getting plenty of attention this week, thanks first to Hurricane Isaac and then to the Republican National Convention. About 75 miles up the coast in Lecanto, Fla., however, is something else that warrants a headline – a multimillion-dollar renovation of the famed Black Diamond Ranch golf community in conjunction with the 25th anniversary of its creation in 1987.
Few golf facilities in the Southeast can match the topographical diversity of Black Diamond Ranch, the three-course complex best known as the home of course architect Tom Fazio’s famed Quarry Course. Unlike any other course in Florida, it was cut out of an abandoned limestone quarry and features a series of dramatic elevation changes prompted by sheer 80-foot cliffs plunging into lakes. It has consistently been ranked one of "America's 100 Greatest Courses" by Golf Digest and among the "Top 100 Courses in the U.S." by GOLF Magazine.
"Our goal is to build on Black Diamond's world-class reputation to ensure the club's long-term sustainability and exclusivity," said David McDonald, president of Escalante Golf, which bought the complex in March of 2011. "The comprehensive masterplan demonstrates a continuing commitment to our existing members, and is a point of pride and emphasis in attracting new members and residents who share our vision and values."
The project, which is just beginning, includes a major clubhouse redesign; numerous golf course enhancements including bunker renovations, course lengthening and amenity upgrades; and new residential products and memberships. The clubhouse’s new interior design features upgrades to the dining facilities, boardrooms, outdoor patios, flooring, furniture and mechanical systems. The second phase of the project will focus on the golf shop, retail environment and locker rooms.
Course architect David Whelchel has been hired to identify opportunities to lengthen and modernize the Quarry Course, as well as the complementary Highlands Course and Ranch Course. His improvements begin with the redesign and reconstruction of all 208 bunkers throughout the three courses and practice facilities.
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