Tripp Davis was born and raised in Georgia, played golf at the University of Oklahoma, and designed and restored golf courses from California’s Coachella Valley to Florida and Mexico. None of those destinations are known for being frigid climates. Each, in fact, has its own definition of “hot.’’
But Davis, who won All-America honors at OU and played on the Sooners’ 1989 NCAA championship team, never was as hot as he was a few days ago in Lecanto, FL., where he is renovating the Ranch Course at Black Diamond Ranch.
“It was 95 degrees and probably 99 percent humidity,’’ Davis told me.
Anyone who has survived this brutal Florida summer, in which heat indexes have reached as high as 115 degrees, knows what Davis is talking about.
“Never been so hot and wet in my life. I sweated through two shirts.’’
However, all of Tripp Davis’ sweat will be worth it to Black Diamond Ranch and Gasparilla Golf Club members in Southwest Florida. Davis is renovating the Tom Fazio-designed Ranch Course and rebuilding the Pete Dye-designed Gasparilla Golf Club, the latter of which has been closed since September 2022 when Hurricane Ian decimated the Southwest Florida coastline.
Gasparilla Golf Club, the centerpiece of the Gasparilla Inn & Club, is expected to reopen in early October.
The rebuild of Gasparilla Golf Club – located in Charlotte Harbor on Boca Grande between Fort Myers and Sarasota – includes new tees, fairways, and additional drainage,
“We’ve pushed the bunkers to be more in play for today’s modern, better player and pushed some greens to different locations,’’ he said
The course (6,800 yards, par 72) will feature Paspalum Platinum grass, as opposed to the Paspalum Sea Island grass that had been on it.
“The golf course was really good,’’ Davis said. “It just needed some updates.’’
Black Diamond Ranch, about three hours north of Gasparilla Golf Club, is best known for its almost legendary Quarry Course, designed by Fazio and opened in 1987. The Ranch Course, however, which opened in 1997, is Davis’ favorite of the two.
“The Quarry Course, obviously, is really good, but the Ranch is just classic, good golf. It’s not the same kind of thrills you get from playing down in the quarry holes, but it’s really just a sound, classic golf course.
The property is spectacular. Fazio did a really good routing, so we don’t have to change too much.’’
Davis is redesigning the bunkers on the Ranch (6,956 yards, par 72) to challenge today’s ball technology better.
“Pushing them out in places where they aren’t in play for 95 percent of the players who play there,’’ he said.
“Next summer, we’ll reshape the other greens and regrass the entire property. By October of ‘24, it’s going to be pretty neat.’’
Photos Courtesy of Gasparilla Golf Club