If someone were to mention “Diamond Head,” any person with any knowledge of geography would instinctively think of Hawaii, and Diamond Head Crater, an extinct volcanic crater and the site of a luakini heiau, and ancient ceremonial structure dedicated to the war god and used by ancient Hawaiians for worship and human sacrifice. It’s one of the most popular hikes on the island of Oahu and happens to be Hawaii’s most recognized landmark.
Diamondhead (notice the difference in spelling) is a city on the Bay St. Louis coastline in Mississippi, located about 35 miles from Biloxi, MS, and 50 miles from New Orleans, LA, making it an easy drive from both markets. The city of Diamondhead was destined to be a resort town, with Hawaii-inspired architecture, landscaping, and road names. even their logo depicts this. Take a look at the country club’s swimming pool and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
Within the city, you’ll find The Club at Diamondhead, a semi-private country club where the emphasis is on recreation and enjoying all that a Mississippi Gulf Coast lifestyle has to offer. For some, it’s the ten lighted, hydra-clay tennis courts at The Tennis Club, for others, the dining and social aspects of the club, For the majority of members, it’s the two 18-hole championship golf courses that draw golfers from near and far. The area has some interesting topography with elevations that rise to just over 100 feet. You won’t find many water hazards out here however both courses have a lot of tree-lined fairways, so if you can’t hit it straight off the tee, be prepared to get creative!
The Pine Course
The front nine on the Pine Course has a real resort feel to it with generous fairways and wide-open landing areas. There’s not a lot of trouble to get into and if you keep the ball in play, you can get off to a great start. Water is present on both par 3s but shouldn’t come into play unless you’re having a really bad day.
The first hole on the Pine Course starts with a couple of blind shots. It’s a par 5 that plays 495 yards where both the tee shot, and your layup shot play uphill. You won’t even be able to see the green until your approach shot which plays downhill. The green slopes back to front and is protected on either side with sand. It’s a great starting hole.
According to the scorecard, Number 4 is the number one handicap. It’s a dogleg right that plays 410 yards from the White Tees. Longball hitters need to be wary of the creek that crosses the fairway about 150 yards from the green. Your approach shot plays straight uphill into a green with lots of mounding around it and a large bunker on the right. According to Chris Altese, PGA Director of Golf, this hole can make or break your front nine. “Number 4 on the Pine is a critical hole to navigate in order to post a good round. You typically will need to add one club on the uphill approach. A par on this hole will usually win you a dollar and a bogey most likely won’t cost you one,” said Altese.
Water comes into play on number 10, which plays 526 yards from the White Tees. The pond in front of the tee box shouldn’t pose a problem, but the creek that crosses the fairway about 300 yards from the White Tees very well may. For most players this is a 3-shot hole; bunkers guard the front of the green which sits at an odd angle to the fairway. It’s a challenging hole to start the back side.
Standing on the 14th tee box, you get a sense of the elevation changes. You start from an elevated tee box and hit downhill to the fairway. Avoid the fairway bunker on the left side and you’ll have a mid to low iron uphill, into the green. It’s at least an extra club – maybe two – to get up the hill.
On most golf courses, the par 3 holes are typically handicapped as the easiest holes however, on the Pine Course, the 484-yard par 5, 17th hole takes the honor. There’s water to carry off the tee and woods and water near the landing area on the right side, where most golfers tend to hit their drives. Your best bet is to play your tee shot just short of the fairway bunkers on the left side. A good drive might give you an opportunity to shoot for the green, otherwise, play your layup shot down the left side as well. This takes the greenside bunker on the right out of play and gives you a clear line into the green.
The Cardinal Course
With tree-lined fairways, extra-long sand bunkers, and no parallel holes, the Cardinal Course makes for a serene, peaceful round of golf. From the White Tees, the course plays 6,128 yards with a course rating of 71.0 and a slope of 128. With 4 sets of tees, there’s a suitable yardage for every golfer, no matter how good – or bad – you are!
The 4th hole is a par 3 that plays 140 yards over water into a large, oceanic-style green that is well-sloped from back to front. The water guards the right side of the green, and bunkers front left and in the back place an emphasis on accuracy off the tee. There’s a bailout area long, and right, however, it leaves most players with a tough up and down.
That same accuracy will come in handy on the par 4, 383-yard 6th hole. You’ll need it to avoid the bunkers, both off the tee and around the green. Off the tee, there’s a lot more room on the right side than you may think, and the fairway bunker on the left side gets a good workout as well! Long, deep bunkers guard either side of this long, narrow green. There may be as much as a two-club difference between a front and back pin placement. Maury Hodgens, Head Golf Professional, says “Be sure to stay below the hole and favor left of center for a slightly uphill putt. Putts from above the hole on Number 6 of the Cardinal are deceptively fast and can get away from you in a hurry.”
Number 13 is probably the signature hole on the Cardinal course. It’s a 153-yard par 3 that plays downhill over water with woods on either side. The green is a tilted plane and not very deep on the right side. It’s protected by a bunker in the back right. Par is a good score here.
If Number 13 is not the signature hole, then, by all means, Number 15 is. This 510-yard, par 5 will require three well-thought-out and accurate shots to get on the green in regulation. You’ll need to cross the water twice, once from the elevated tee box to an island fairway and a second time on your layup shot. The landing area off the tee to the island fairway is narrow, and trees come into play on the right side. Your layup shot starts your uphill journey to the green, and it’s best to play at least one extra club on your next two shots. Trees come into play on both sides of the fairway on your second and third shots as well. There’s a single bunker short of the green on the right side; the green is not that large and has some good slope to it.
If either of these courses have you doubting your game, maybe a visit to The Golf Academy of Diamondhead is just what you need. Headed up by PGA Director of Instruction and Player Development, Hoppy Smith, a quick lesson might help work out the kinks. They use the latest technologies and can help you out with golf club fittings, ball and club speed analysis, and club distance and gapping measurements. Individual and on-course instruction is available as well as weekly golf clinics, all designed to help you get the most out of your golf game.
In 2020, Hurricane Zeta hit Diamondhead, MS, and according to Food and Beverage Manager Chris Rahaim, there was extensive damage to the clubhouse, in particular, the kitchen and restaurant areas. Management chose to look on the bright side and saw this as an opportunity to do some remodeling. The result is an open-air concept that is multi-functional. Whether it’s just your foursome or you’re part of a larger golf group, the staff can easily accommodate you. The food is incredible, especially the Sunday Brunch, complete with an omelet station and Prime Rib carving station. They also do a lot of special events, including wine and bourbon tastings. Check out the website or their Facebook page for up-to-date information.
These are just a few of the many things going on at The Club at Diamondhead. To book your next round or for information on becoming a member, call them at (228) 255-3910 or visit them online at firstname.lastname@example.org.