Diamond Springs Golf Course Review
Diamond Springs Golf Course
Teacher’s Comments: In the Top Ten Golf Courses In Michigan Conversation
Midway through my round, I already had Diamond Springs on my “Top Twenty In Michigan” list. By round’s end it was in the conversation for “Top Ten Golf Courses In Michigan.”
Diamond Springs is an early Mike DeVries design, but in it, he shows the skills that have earned a spot among modern golf’s architectural elite. DeVries went on to design — among others — Kingsley Club, Greywalls and Cape Wickham in Tasmania, which has been ranked as high as #24 in the world by Golf Digest.
At Diamond Springs, DeVries made some interesting design choices. Most noticeable is that there are no tee boxes. Rather, there are teeing grounds which flow organically and smoothly into the fairways. The exception is with those holes that have some sort of carry off the teeing grounds, as on par threes.
Grass cut to a uniform height accentuates the flowing feeling from tee to green. There really isn’t any second cut — just enormous seas of fairways and then prairie grass or trees.
As with the teeing grounds, it’s an interesting design choice.
Another interesting decision is in the routing. A dramatic ravine cuts through one end of the property, but DeVries holds it back. The ravine makes a brief appearance on the ninth — as a teaser — and then is out of mind until the dramatic stretch of 14 – 18, where it features prominently.
There had to have been a temptation to use the ravine earlier — or more frequently. That would, however, have interrupted the flowing nature of the rest of the course.
This is not to say that Diamond Springs otherwise lacks interesting topography. Several eskers run through the property and DeVries incorporated them in interesting ways. The first hole sweeps left downhill from a small ridge (that separates the hole from the ninth and the ravine). The second — a shortish par 4 — has a green nestled up against that same esker. The third (as well as the tenth) tees off from the top of that same ridge line. The green of the third is up against another knob.
Diamond Springs’ routing is a bit like the movements of a symphony. It starts with three brisk opening holes, then rolls smoothly to the ninth. There, the movement rises, only to fall again for holes ten through thirteen. Finally, the crescendo: fourteen through eighteen.
For this bogey golfer, Diamond Springs’ design was very enjoyable. Wide and fast fairways encouraged free swings off the tee. Clever greens complexes, however, encouraged thought about placement off the tee. I would really like to play Diamond Springs several times; I would have approached many of the holes differently.
My favorite hole was the par 4 third (top of page). Beginning from an elevated tee, the hole sweeps downward, then up over a small ridge. From there, it dives down and then back up again to a green set against another drumlin. It was just plain fun.
From a strategic point of view, though, the par 4 fifteenth stood out. The tee shot must carry a wild ravine and land on a fairway that is set at a 45 degree angle to the teeing grounds. Longer carries will of course offer a shorter distance into the green, but at the same time, the fairway narrows. The safest shot will leave the longest approach.
The one thing I would change in the layout, however, is the unexpected — and entirely unwarranted — pond in the middle of the sixth fairway. They should fill that thing in and turn it into a mound.
From the tips, Diamond Springs stretches to 6, 803 yards and plays to a 73.0/137. From the men’s mid tees, it comes in at 6, 033 and plays to a 69.2/124. Other tees are in at 5, 204 and 4, 520 yards.
Conditions on the day I visited were superb. Ownership and staff clearly care about providing golfers with a quality experience.
It was a long drive to Diamond Springs from GolfBlogger World Headquarters in Ann Arbor, but I would love to do it again.
The Diamond Springs Golf Course Review was first published November 14, 2019 from notes and photos taken on a round in the summer of 2019.