Diamondback Golf Club offers a relaxing retreat south of Orlando

By Ed Schmidt, Contributor

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

Diamondback Golf Club
Joe Lee carved Diamondback through 240 acres of forest.
Diamondback Golf ClubDiamondback Golf Club in Haines CityDiamonback golf course
If you go

HAINES CITY, Fla. -- If you want to get back to nature, so to speak, play Diamondback Golf Club in Haines City. Situated about a 30-minute southwest drive from the Walt Disney World tourist corridor, Diamondback offers a relaxing reprieve from the vacation crowds and theme park lines.

At Diamondback, you'll find a layout with engaging terrain encompassing rolling hills, natural wetland areas and generous tree growth. Carved through 240 acres of Florida forest, Diamondback is the perfect marriage of a lush, natural environment and adroitly designed golf holes.

One thing you won't find is homes or condos. The course has no real-estate component, which gives it the feel of a pristine nature preserve. A bonus is the wide variety of wildlife and birdlife you'll see along the way.

Opened in 1995, Diamondback was designed by Joe Lee, who also fashioned Florida courses such as Marriott's Grand Pines Golf Club in Orlando, River Hills Country Club in Valrico and Seascape Resort in Destin, not to mention the Palm Course, Magnolia Course and Lake Buena Vista Course at Walt Disney World.

How to play Diamondback Golf Club

First and foremost, Diamondback is the quintessential shotmaker's course. The dense woods lining many of the fairways encourage a well thought-out approach to be successful.

The layout plays to par 72, measures 6,684 yards from the back (gold) tees playing to a course rating of 73.0 and slope rating of 142. Other tees include blue (6,298 yards, 70.7 and 138), white (5,954 yards, 68.9 and 130) and red (4,807 yards, 64.2 and 105).

If you step to the tee with no other plan but to blast your drive in the direction of the flag, you'll be in for a long day. You'll probably need a calculator, not a pencil, to tally up your score. Play smart and controlled, and you'll do just fine.

"The course is tight but fair," Assistant Professional Chris Streett said. "It's extremely important to keep the ball in play off the tee if you want to score well. There are some holes where a fairway metal or long iron is the correct club selection. You're required to think intently about club selection on every hole."

A potential scorecard destroyer is the par-5, 542-yard no. 5, the no. 1-handicap hole. Lee forces you to make solid club decisions and accurate shots to avoid bunkers on the left side at the tee-shot landing area, second shot position and greenside.

Arguably, the most memorable and picturesque hole at Diamondback Golf Club is the 524-yard, par-5 16th hole with its lake and stunning, 75 foot-wide waterfall.

My favorite par 3 is the 142-yard No. 4, which has a long, winding, interestingly shaped bunker on the left leading up to the green and a greenside bunker back right. Hit an accurate tee shot here, or you might be enjoying the beach for a while.

Ed SchmidtEd Schmidt, Contributor

Ed Schmidt, publisher of The Golf Travel Guru Blog, is the author of two books on Florida golf and more than 2,500 articles and columns on golf resorts, courses and destinations around the world. Follow Ed on Twitter at @golftravelguy.

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