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Quarry Courses of America

By Shane Sharp

Golfers stuck between a rock and a hard place trying to figure out where their next round will come from might try an unlikely venue: the rock quarry. Once dismissed as useless rock piles, these "recovering gravel pits" have emerged as one of America's unique contributions to the golf course architectural cannon. Here's a list of the best in the U.S. - chalk it up to the rock, white and blue.

The Quarry Course (Black Diamond)
Lecanto, Fla. (Tom Fazio 1987)

Fazio's (dare we say) Central Florida gem was the course that began the quarry course movement in earnest. The Quarry Course at Black Diamond is forged through the jagged walls and shimmering lakes of two retired limestone quarries. Original owner Stan Olsen picked up the property for pocket change, and charged Fazio with pulling off what was then one of the most unimaginable feats in golf course design and engineering. Legendary golf writer Dan Jenkins called the five quarry holes (13-17) "the five best consecutive holes in the world." Black Diamond is private (very), but it is never too late to befriend a member, or even purchase a membership at this 45-hole country club.

The Quarry Golf Club
San Antonio, Texas (Keith Foster 1993)

The name leaves little doubt as to where this Hill Country gem is situated. But only the back nine of this Keith Foster design plays through the "hard" stuff. One hundred foot rock walls line the fairways on the ride in, remnants of a retired rock quarry that supplied the Alamo City with most it's concrete. The 384-yard par-4 17th -- dubbed "Reload" for the act it most inspires -- requires a heart-pounding tee shot over a deep ravine.

Rock Hollow Golf Club
Peru IN (Tim Liddy, 1994)

Pete Dye protege Tim Liddy laid out this impressive hunk of Hoosier golf heaven in a 300-acre former strip mine. The property houses a unique collection of old growth forest, cattail-rimmed marshes and subtle quarry remains. Rock Hollow was the brainchild of manufacturing mogul Terry W. Smith - father of Chris Smith, the 2002 Buick Classic champ.

Bay Harbor Golf Club Quarry Nine
Bay Harbor, MI (Arthur Hills 1997)

The Quarry/Links nine combo at Bay Harbor is considered one of the preeminent coastal golf experiences in the U.S. Hills' Quarry Nine wields the largest "wow" factor, with five holes (five through nine) tumbling through the rugged environs of an old shale quarry. Highlights include a green set against a 50' quarry wall (the par-5 fifth), and a tee shot over a 60' wide gorge (the par-4 seventh).

The Golf Club at Oak Quarry
Riverside, Calif. (Brian Curley/Lee Schmidt/Gil Morgan 2000)

Oak Quarry is a hidden gem -- literally. The 7,000-yard stunner in the foothills of SoCal's Jurupa Mountains is shoe horned into the marble and limestone remains of the Jensen quarry. The fit was so tight that lead designer Brian Curley initially estimated the site could reasonably accommodate one hole - the par-3 14th.

Iron Horse Golf Club
Ashland, NE (Gene Bates 2001)

With a 40-acre manmade lake and towering 120' walls, Iron Horse is all quarry, all the time. Bates is quick to point out, though, that a majority of the 6,500-yard circuit is set comfortably on the quarry's "overburden," or excavated material. The par-4 ninth and 18th holes, with sweeping views of the lake and the Platte River Valley, are the most poignant reminders of the property's rocky past.

Quarry at Giants Ridge
Biwabik, MN (Jeff Brauer 2003)

Texas-based architect Jeff Brauer's follow-up to the critically acclaimed Legend at Giants Ridge could be a show stealer. The starkly beautiful course, which makes its way in and around a former sand quarry, displays some of the boldest bunkering this side of Pine Valley. The 7,000 blend of north woods, lakes and abandoned mining land is a tip of the cap to the region's industrial roots.

Article Tags: Quarry Courses

Revised: 04/28/2011 - Article Viewed 24,369 Times

About: Shane Sharp

Shane Sharp Shane Sharp is a longtime golf writer based in Greenville, S.C. In addition to running his content marketing business, Southbound 4, he's a regular contributor to GOLF Magazine, Golf Inc., Club Management and other golf magazines and websites.

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