When people think of Diamond Head, inevitably they think of Hawaii, and rightfully so. This broad, saucer-shaped crater was formed about 300,000 years ago and is visited by over 3,000 people daily. It is Hawaii’s most recognized landmark.
The State of Mississippi also lays claim to a Diamondhead; it’s a city located in an area bordering the Pearl River in Hancock County. Diamondhead is located about 35 miles from Biloxi and 50 miles from New Orleans and is easily accessible from either city. While Diamondhead makes for a nice daytrip from either of these cities, it’s also an area that attracts “snowbirds.” Diamondhead is serious about their golf, as proven by their recently completed 5-year course renovation program. In fact, the entire area would like to become better known to golfers up north as a great Southern alternative for their winter golf getaways.
In the 1970’s Diamondhead was slated to be a resort community along Mississippi’s Gulf Coast. Since the name lent itself to that of a Hawaiian volcano, the plans for this new resort community called for Hawaiian-style architecture, landscape, and road names. This is plainly evident when you look at the design of the main community pool. Guests are always welcome to enjoy Diamondhead’s golf courses, tennis courts, country club, and marina.
Although it’s located on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast, Diamondhead has some interesting topography, with elevations that rise up to over 100 feet. This makes it the perfect location for a world class golf facility. The Diamondhead Country Club and the Golf Academy of Diamondhead are located in the center of town. The club boasts two 18-hole championship golf courses as well as 10 lighted, state of the art hydra clay tennis courts located down the road at Diamondhead Tennis World. There’s also a marina, 5,400 square feet of meeting and banquet space, a full-service restaurant and the only indoor/outdoor Golf Academy along the MS Gulf Coast run by the state’s top golf instructor.
Within the clubhouse there are two dining venues: the 19th Hole Bar & Grill and the main dining room. The 19th Hole has become the prime gathering place within the community, and features karaoke on Thursday nights as well live entertainment and dancing on Friday nights. The dining room features an excellent a la carte menu, Chef Specials, Friday Steak Night is one of the most popular nights; you’ll find Diamondhead’s Chef outside preparing Certified Angus Beef filet, ribeyes and seafood on a charcoal grill, cooked to your exact specifications.
The menu at Diamondhead Country Club is anything but your typical clubhouse fare. Start with the Crawfish Spring Roll appetizers, loaded with crawfish, trinity cabbage and pepper jack cheese. It’s a savory combination of flavors. From there, choose an entrée from a wide variety of fresh fish and steaks available with different toppings such as Dianne, Amandine or Marsala. A number of seafood platters are also available: shrimp, catfish or fried oysters with French fries and hushpuppies. Or choose from a number of Diner Favorites such as Paneed Veal or Chicken. In the mood for Italian? Try their Shrimp and Scallop Scampi, Parma Rosa Fettucine or Veal Parmesan. All of these dishes are prepared with the freshest of ingredients and made to order in their kitchen.
When it comes to practice facilities, Diamondhead offers some of the area’s best, and practice is something serious golfers need if they want to get the most out of their game. There’s a full-length driving range which allows you to hit every club in your bag. Something many golfers overlook is the short game, but not Diamondhead. You’ll find putting, pitching and chipping areas as well as practice bunkers. In the event your game’s not up to par or you’re a beginner looking to take up the game, pay a visit to the Golf Academy of Diamondhead. Their focus is to provide quality instruction to golfers of all ages and abilities. The Academy uses some of the latest high tech equipment including the Flightscope Launch Monitor to analyze your swing and put together a program to improve your game. The Junior Golf Academy of Diamondhead is an elite junior program for kids ages 5 – 12 based on U.S. Kids Golf Three Level Instruction Program.
The Pine Course was the first course built and opened for play in 1971. The course was designed by Earl Stone and measures 6,769 yards from the longest tees with a course rating of 73.4 and a slope rating of 134. Four sets of tees make the Pines course playable for golfers of all skill levels. The Pine course layout is pretty much a figure eight pattern. Both nines move in a clockwise circle and no two holes play parallel to each other, giving you the feeling the course is at your beck and call. Pine will test your shot shaping ability, requiring you to move the ball both right to left and left to right. Depending on where your tee shot lands, the heavily wooded area may require you to keep the ball under a tree limb or two. The par 4 4th hole provides the course’s sternest test. This demanding hole requires a tee shot that narrowly avoids the oak trees on the right side. The creek that crosses the fairway about 125 yards from the green shouldn’t come into play for the majority of players. The approach shot plays uphill to a fairly deep green guarded by a large bunker on the right side. A back right pin placement can be especially tricky.
Another notable par 4 is number 12, a short par 4 (292 White tees) that is best played with a tee shot down the left side. This hole is all about pin placement. A front pin is going to require a very accurate approach; it’s very narrow and protected by bunkers on either side. A back right pin is tricky too because of all the slope in the green. As you walk off the green, look back towards the tee and take in the Bay of St. Louis in the background.
The second course to be built at Diamondhead Country Club was the Cardinal Course which opened for play in 1979. The course was designed by John LaFoy and plays 6,729 yards from the longest (Blue) tees with a course rating a 73.1 and has a slope of 131. Most golfers will find that the White tees (6,128/71.0/128) are a challenging test. For ladies, the Red Tees (4,950/69.2/118) will prove to be a sturdy test. Five sets of tees provide a comfortable length for golfers of all skill levels.
Like its sister the Pine, the Cardinal’s major challenge is the tree-lined fairways. The Cardinal Course also features gently rolling terrain, extra-long sand bunkers and no parallel fairways. Number 5 is Cardinal’s toughest hole and exhibits each of these traits. At 371 yards from the White tees, it requires an accurate drive down a narrow corridor framed with trees. Your best bet is to favor the right side of the fairway off the tee, which will take the stately magnolia tree guarding the left side out of play. The green is narrow and deep, with bunkers on each side. Check your yardage to the pin before hitting your approach and take dead aim at the pin.
For me, the most memorable hole on either course is the par 4, 12th on the Cardinal Course. It’s a fairly short (330 yards from the White tees) par 4 with a slight dogleg right. From the tees, the creek that crosses the fairway looks innocent enough and easy to carry, however if I were naming holes, this one would be called “It Ain’t a Creek!” It’s actually a lake that requires a carry of about 300 yards. Hit less than driver off the tee, short of the lake, and you’ll have a nice, easy approach shot that plays slightly uphill.
Diamondhead Country Club has partnered with the nearby Silver Slipper Casino in Bay St. Louis, MS to offer some pretty impressive golf packages, which can be found on the Silver Slipper website. These packages include a one-night stay at Silver Slipper Casino Hotel, one free buffet at the Jubilee Buffet which has the widest variety of foods I have seen outside of a supermarket and one round of golf on one of the two championship golf courses at Diamondhead Country Club. Packages start at $99. Golf packages can also be booked through the Gulf Coast CVB website https://www.gulfcoast.org/things-to-do/golf/)
Memberships to Diamondhead Country Club are available to both residents and non-residents. There are several membership classifications including Individual Golf, Family Golf, Associate Individual Golf and Corporate Golf memberships. Residents can choose to use their own, private cart or pay a cart fee each round. For more information on becoming a Diamondhead Country Club golf member, call (228) 255-3910. You can also visit their website at www.diamondheadms.org.