Editor's Note: Most all the articles we post on GoGolfandTravel about golf courses are open to the public. This is an exception. You must be the guest of a member to play Diamond Creek. It is worth the effort to find a member to play this course.
Diamond Creek Golf Club
Elk River, NC
Story by: Bill Hensley
|Diamond Creek is hidden because it is tucked away on a scenic, secluded mountainside near Banner Elk.
You know its going to be an enjoyable day when you drive through the gate at the Diamond Creek Golf Club. On the short drive to the clubhouse, the spectacular mountain scenery unfolds quickly. The first sight is of a waterfall, followed by rolling green hills and panoramic views of nearby peaks and valleys.
And then there is golf on one of North Carolina’s hidden gems.
Hidden because it is tucked away on a scenic, secluded mountainside near Banner Elk. When the club opened in 2003, it joined a prestigious group of private clubs in the area, including Elk River, Grandfather, Linville, Linville Ridge, Hound Ears and Blowing Rock as Tar Heel treasures in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The clubs are within a 20-mile radius from Blowing Rock to Linville and Banner Elk.
The course was designed by Tom Fazio and was built by the late Wayne Huizenga and John McNeely as a unique, relaxing “getaway” place for their friends. A special emphasis was placed on premier golf, fine dining, quality service and first-class facilities. When Huizenga began experiencing health problems he sold the club to 49-year-old Dan Friedkin, a Houston, Texas, automobile distributor and entrepreneur, who has maintained and enhanced the former owner’s quest for excellence, yet a carefree environment.
A Fazio jewel, the 7175 yard layout is situated in one of the state’s most picturesque areas, offering panoramic views of towering peaks and lush, green valleys. The front nine was built on a former sheep farm that is open and spacious while the back side meanders through forested property that offers a variety of tall trees. The course altitude is 4150 feet above sea level.
A popular feature are the two small, barn-like structures, called “comfort stations,” on the fifth tee and between the l3th green and 14th tee. Each contains restrooms and a generous variety of compliementary snacks, candy bars, ice cream sandwiches, soft drinks, beer and wine for golfers to enjoy.
A number of stately homes, that are rarely seen from fairways, house club members who spend the summer on the thousand- acre property. In addition, there are eight luxury cottages with 30 bedrooms available for impeccable guest accommodations.
“The club was created to provide the best in golf, dining, and an overall “unplugged” experience,”said club Operations Director Mike Mola, “There is no swimming pool or tennis courts. However we have a fitness center, stable, hiking and horseback riding trails, fly fishing, a sporting clays course, and a pistol course, so there is plenty to do here.”
The club owns the nearby Artisinal restaurant which is unanimously known as the finest dining facility in the High Country. “The restaurant was conceived for our members before the club offered dining,” Mola explained, “and it has been a marvelous success.” Diamond Creek members have a priority for reservations at this highly-regarded facility.
|A 36,000 square foot clubhouse with inspiring views is a showcase of elegance.
A long-time golf professional, Mola has been at the club since the beginning and also directs the operations at a new course Mr. Friedkin has built in Ridgeland, SC, called Congaree. “That is another outstanding Fazio course which we are quite proud of, “ Mola remarked. The course opened in 2017.
Members (there are 320) may also take advantage of a Diamond Creek-based helicopter service that shuttles members to and from nearby airports. “Mr. Friedkin wants to afford members the opportunity to get to the club from almost anywhere by noon so they can enjoy a round of golf on the same day they travel. The service has been well received.”
Mola went on, “Mr. Friedkin continues to raise the bar established by Mr. Huizenga. “He will
accept nothing but the best for members. Our goal is to be the best club anywhere, bar none.”
Club members are from most of the Southeastern states. A number of professional athletes have joined Diamond Creek, including football coaches Don Shula and Mack Brown and stockcar driver Rusty Wallace.
A 36,000 square foot clubhouse with inspiring views is a showcase of elegance. A staff of 75 receives extensive training before beginning employment. “We want our members and guests to enjoy great golf, gourment dining, service and facilities that will be remembered,” commented Mola. “We want a day of golf here to be a relaxing, unforgettable experience.”
In a recent issue of Golf Digest magazine, the Diamond Creek locker room was rated as the fourth best in the nation. In brief, it is posh.
|The course has four sets of tees that measure 7175, 6675, 6115 and 5010 yards.
John McNeely, a long time golf professional who founded the club, is managing partner, at Diamond Creek and Congaree, and Joe Humston is the head professional. The club is open each year from May through October.
The course has four sets of tees that measure 7175, 6675, 6115 and 5010 yards. Par is 70 and the course rating from the championship tees is 74.8 The course record is 63, shared by touring pros Scott Stallings and Billy Andrade. Mike Mola’s low is a five-under 65. “I made a few birdies that day,” he grinned.
“Put Diamond Creek up there with the great ones,” said former N. C. State basketball star Lou Pucillo who played as a guest recently. “My day there was one to remember. Golf at Diamond Creek is more than a game. It’s a truly memorable experience.”
And so it is……