THE BLACK DIAMOND STORY
A Note from the Developer
There’s a reason the manatees return to the warm fresh waters of the Homosassa River each year and the tarpon school off our western shore. Citrus County is a wonderful place to be. For mammals. For fish. For birds. And for people. My wife Betty and I came here years ago from New England and saw immediately that Citrus County was where we wanted to be. It had a lot of New England in it. Friendly people. Small towns. A sensible, worry-free pace of life. And lots of natural beauty.
But I suppose, mostly I was drawn here by the trees. Black Diamond was located on pastureland along with a limestone quarry, but it also had huge stands of oak trees. We’ve made sure that most of the trees have been saved. Maybe that’s why so many people feel like they’ve come home when they come here. Instead of strip malls and super highways, you’re likely to see trees and cows and rolling pastureland. It’s sort of like turning the clock back a century or so.
That’s why we developed Black Diamond. We think it combines the best of nature, good planning, a quiet unpretentious lifestyle, great recreation and comfortable surroundings. It wouldn’t work in other parts of Florida or the Southeast. Only Citrus County.
We hope you like Black Diamond.
Black Diamond developer, Stan Olsen, was the co-founder of Digital Equipment Corporation. In the early 1980s, he turned his attention from interactive computers to land development in the rolling hills and natural beauty of Citrus County on the Gulf Coast.
Citrus County History and Lore
On June 2, 1887, Florida Governor E.A. Perry signed a bill that established Citrus County. During that time its residents relied on turpentine from trees, lemons and limes, fish and fertilizer to make a living. They’ve also rubbed elbows with The King, The Kid and the Prez. The first County Courthouse was built in the state capital of Inverness in 1892.
Weather played an integral part of the county’s history, including the Big Freeze of 1894-95, which destroyed virtually all of the citrus groves. But the county’s economy rebounded in 1889 with the discovery of phosphate deposits, which are used in making fertilizer and the county’s population swelled to 10,000.
In 1961 the final scenes of the Elvis Presley’s “Follow That Dream” were filmed in the old county courthouse. Other parts of the movie were filmed in Crystal River, Ocala and Tampa. In addition, President Grover Cleveland found idyllic refuge hunting and fishing on the Homosassa River, and one of baseball’s all-time greats, Ted Williams (a Black Diamond member) was also captivated by Citrus County’s outdoor pursuits and spent his retirement years here. Thomas Edison also was a winter resident of the county, and the nation’s first Coca-Cola vending machine was installed in the Citrus County Courthouse in 1940.
Olsen was also pleased to learn that nearly half of Citrus County is set aside in state or federal land preserves, ensuring that its wonderful habitat will remain intact, thereby protecting its plentiful wildlife which includes West Indian manatees, black bears, panthers, bobcats, cougars, alligators, tortoises, otters, deer, bald eagles and countless rare birds.
Blessed with sand hills of up to 180 feet, an abundance of live oaks, sub-tropical vegetation, and a sunny temperate climate, Citrus County’s Nature Coast is an ideal area for year-round golf and a wonderful setting for an active, outdoor lifestyle. It’s a slice of Florida that few have found, and none have expected.
“In addition,” notes Olsen, “there’s a vitality in the people who live here – hard-working, but fun-loving people who have come from many different places. It’s a rich but dynamic culture that is truly American in nature – like something you would see in a Norman Rockwell painting. People are sensitive to the environment. There aren’t any high-rise condominiums – just quality villages and towns, and historic Native American sites. The spirit of old Florida and Southern hospitality are alive and well here.”
Olsen was fascinated by the history, unique culture and abundant natural treasures of Florida’s Nature Coast, but it was the expansive sand hills that turned his attention to the development of the 1,320-acre property near the quaint little town of Lecanto that is now Black Diamond. The ranch was first settled by John Newell, an Ohio landowner, in the early 1930s, and in the 1940s, the property was purchased by John Taylor, Jr., a citrus packing magnate from Largo, Florida. Impressed by the natural attributes of the land, Taylor named it Black Diamond Ranch after a premium grapefruit of the same name. Enter Stan Olsen in 1984, who after a thorough search of Citrus County, bought the property – and the rest is history.
From the beginning, Olsen’s vision has continually taken Black Diamond golf to a higher level than the typical Florida-style courses where man-made lakes and sand are the only design features. As Olsen so wisely stated, “Golf has to be the most significant and outstanding attribute of the community.”
Early on in the planning stages, Olsen’s foresight, Fazio’s artistry and a mountain of earthwork turned a potential development problem, in the form of two unsightly and abandoned limestone quarries, into the hallmark of Black Diamond’s first 18-hole course – the Quarry Course. These two canyon-like features were transformed into the setting for a stunning five-hole odyssey of the most spectacular and most photographed holes in the world of golf. To Black Diamond, this stretch of five remarkable holes has become what “Amen Corner” is to Augusta National.
Tom Fazio is a master when it comes to designing unique and dramatic golf environments that are as challenging as they are beautiful. A true artist, he was blessed with a wonderful canvas at Black Diamond on which to paint a grand masterpiece. And that he has done, creating a magnificent complex of 45 holes of golf, including the 18-hole Quarry and Ranch Courses and a 9-hole layout named the Highlands Course that’s as worthy of accolades as the first two courses.
As a developer, Olsen realized that visually exciting, challenging holes and noteworthy honors are important to the success of a high-end golf community. Just as importantly, however, as a high-handicap golfer, he knew that the golf courses had to be playable and enjoyable for all the members. With five sets of tees at a variety of angles and yardages ranging from 7,159 to 4,785 on the Quarry Course and 7,004 to 5,003 on the Ranch Course, Fazio has accomplished this.
The Quarry Course opened to rave reviews in December 1987, and has garnered widespread praise and recognition. Golf Digest rated it among the Top 100 Courses in the U.S., and 3rd in the state behind only Seminole and the TPC at Sawgrass, while the Ranch Course has been ranked among the top 10 in Florida. Also, Golfweek magazine has ranked the Quarry Course among the top five Real Estate Courses in the U.S., and 25th among America’s Best Modern Courses (built since 1960), and Golf Magazine has ranked the Quarry Course 60th in the Top 100 Courses in the U.S. – ahead of such courses as Long Cove, the Ocean Course at Kiawah, Hazeltine National, Troon and Jupiter Hills. It has also been featured in Links Magazine as a Modern Classic course. (List awards one by one?)
The Quarry Course has 13 outstanding golf holes and 5 incredible ones. The Quarry holes, Nos. 13 through 17, play across and around the rims of two canyons up to 80 feet deep, and may well be the most spectacular holes of golf this side of Pebble Beach. As with the other 13 holes, particularly 9 and 18, the Quarry holes have both beauty and bite. Included in this five-hole odyssey are two dramatic drop-shot par-threes, two awesome par-fours and one great risk-reward par-five which yield eagles and birdies as well as double and triple bogeys. On a cool morning the 371 yard, par-four 15th hole is a slice of heaven with fog rising from the lake 60 feet below, lush verdant grass, bright white bunkers and long, dark shadows being cast dramatically across the fairway and green.
Rarely, if ever, will you find a golf course with as much diversity as the Quarry Course, including dramatic changes to elevation, expansive natural sandy areas, bright-white bunkers, occasional water features, gnarled live oaks, magnolias, palmettos and free flowing contours throughout. It’s a course that will thrill you, challenge you and astound you every time you play it.
The Ranch Course at Black Diamond is a little more natural and a little less manicured. The fairways are framed by hammocks of oaks and tawny colored sand, and dotted by native vegetation. It doesn’t so much occupy the land, as meld into it – a bit like Pine Valley, but more forgiving. As Tommy Bolt puts it, “The Ranch Course is pure, undisturbed golf. It’s a super course that you want to play over and over again. It has a lot of character and strategy and blends in beautifully with its surroundings.”
Originally planned as a par-three course, the 9-hole Highlands Course is as worthy and engaging as the Quarry and Ranch Courses. It can be played in tandem with either nines of the Ranch Course, offering members two more 18-hole combinations. The Highlands has its own distinctive character and charm. The fairways are relatively generous, but if you don’t position your tee shots well, you will likely be left with a challenging approach to greens built on the same grade as the fairways. Many of the putting surfaces are open in the front with subtle contours and closely cut chipping areas that favor the old-fashioned bump and run shot.
Black Diamond is ideally located less than 15 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. It’s just over an hour and a half from Tampa and Orlando, 30 minutes from the horse-breeding town of Ocala and one hour from Gainesville – home of the University of Florida – Black Diamond has much to offer. In addition, Black Diamond’s hometown of Lecanto allows members and their friends and family to slip back to a time when life was kinder and less hurried, and traditional values were embraced whole-heartedly.
FOR MANY YEARS RUNNING, Black Diamond was honored as one of the top five golf and residential communities in the U.S.
THE BLACK DIAMOND STORY
Black Diamond Realty, Inc.
2600 West Black Diamond Circle
Lecanto, Florida 34461
(352) 746-5745 (Fax)