Diamondback Golf Club near Orlando: Stow the driver, use your noggin

By Tim McDonald, Contributor

Editor's Note: Course closed for business in 2014.

No. 18 at Diamondback Golf Club
No. 18 at Diamondback Golf Club has a scenic waterfall.
No. 18 at Diamondback Golf ClubNo.1 at Diamondback Golf ClubDiamondback Golf Club - Front Nine
If you go

HAINES CITY, Fla. — You might play Diamondback Golf Club the first time with your driver out. The next time you play the golf course, you'll leave it in the bag with the cover tightly sealed with duct tape.

Better yet, leave it in your car. Better yet, leave it at home. You might want to consider putting it in a safe deposit box.

Diamondback is a parkland course set out in the wide, empty spaces of rural Polk County, southwest of Orlando. But the course squeezes itself into these wide-open spaces, with its tight, narrow, tree-lined fairways with tiny, itty-bitty, shifting, hard-to-hit landing areas.

The first time you play it, you will lose many golf balls, unless you're Fred Funk or a laser-guided smart bomb.

"This is a course-management course," said Brian Whitaker, who has played it many times. "It's not a smack it as far as you can and go find it course."

If you do smack it, you will not find it, if you're a little wayward. The fairways are bordered by the sort of thick growth familiar in the undeveloped parts of central Florida. Then there is the matter of the course's namesake, the diamondback rattler. What I'm saying is bring plenty of golf balls if you plan to use the big stick.

That being said, it can be a very fun course, if you can manage to tone down your manhood and use the little sticks. You have to think, you have play smart and you have to plan for the future.

"You really have to know your pin placements," Whitaker said. "These holes really make you think — what club do I want to hit for my next shot?"

Designed by Joe Lee, the course was carved out of 240 acres of virgin Florida forest about 30 minutes from Disney World. It has interesting terrain, from naturally swampy area to sandy, rolling hills. Since it's set out in the sticks, there are few homes to mar the ambience, though there is talk the new owners may build houses or condos.

It's 6,805 yards from the back tees with a slope rating of 138, though the middle tees are 6,359 yards with a slope of 132. The shortest tees are 5,061 yards.

Lee put together an interesting layout, with a lot of risk-reward doglegs with intimidating obstacles at the corners.

The greens are average-sized and many are multi-tiered with some having up to three and even four different levels. They have some challenging undulation and slope.

Diamondback Golf Club: The verdict

Diamondback is a fun play if you're not the type who absolutely must use driver, though the back nine is more open than the front.

A number of holes will test your skills, particularly the last stretch.

Tim McDonaldTim McDonald, Contributor

Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

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