PIEDMONT TRIAD, N.C. — Tom Fazio is a name synonymous with golf around the country and specifically here in North Carolina, and soon he’ll be enshrined in the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.
Chances are you’ve stepped foot on a Fazio designed course; maybe you had a good day, maybe you didn’t, but you definitely knew you were playing a Fazio.
“I was programmed to be in the golf design business and that’s what I did and haven’t thought about doing anything and would never do anything (else) and will continue to work until the day I can’t work,” said Fazio.
H was born in Philadelphia in the mid-1940s.
His uncle, George, a tournament golfer who lost the 1950 U.S. Open in a playoff to Ben Hogan, helped usher him to the game.
Now, after more than five decades in the business, Fazio is being inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.
“If I never worked any place ever other than North Carolina, I would have felt fulfilled as a golf designer because I was able to work on the coastline, the sandhills, the mountains, the flatlands, to the mid-parts of the state in places like Quail Hollow in charlotte,” said Fazio. “So it’s been a great, fun time being in North Carolina.”
He’s designed or redesigned more than a dozen courses in the Old North State, notably Wade Hampton in Cashiers, Quail Hollow in Charlotte and one third of the courses at the Pinehurst Resort.
“He’s really good,” said Bob Farren, Director of Golf Course Maintenance and Grounds at Pinehurst Resort. “He’s very articulate, he’s very imaginative and he’s got a great vision for what the course should be and wants to be and he’s someone that you like to listen to a lot because you’re going to learn something if you listen closely.”
Fazio said he’ll keep working until he physically can’t and that the emergence of golf greats like Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as golf course architects invigorated him and has been good for business.
“I couldn’t play against Jack Nicklaus,” said Fazio. “But I always felt I could give him two-a side in my business.”
ABC 45 News: Lauded golf course architect being inducted into NC Sports HOFjkopp2023-02-22T23:14:21+00:00
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. | Tom Fazio has been quoted as saying he wants you to find your own love of the game.
We see that in how he laid out his two signature courses along South Carolina’s Grand Strand Golfing mecca.
In both his namesake design at Barefoot Resort & Golf and the famed TPC of Myrtle Beach, Fazio took everything he was given and created masterpieces that were about more than just whacking your way around the 18.
They were meant to inspire you.
To cut through the natural terrain while you just happen to be playing a game. To test your mettle against forced carries. To do your best to avoid the natural grasses and wetlands spotting the landscape. To see yourself in echos of Tom Watson.
When you think of the wettest courses Myrtle Beach has to offer, next to no one would mutter a peep about Fazio’s design at Barefoot. That’s because while 15 of the 18 on his Par-71, straight-line layout here include visible water, very few of them are affecting your shot strategy.
It’s all meant to help create a natural setting without necessarily blowing up your game with drops. But what it also does is feed into his believe of letting nature do the talking as much as possible.
His proper spaces model – something that’s been attributed to him in media reports over the years, whether he directly said it or not – means that what you see is not always what you get. The amount of terrain he’s often working with isn’t always necessary for the routing.
The Fazio Course at Barefoot is a perfect example. He definitely had enough room to work in a full Par-72 track. But trading out one Par 4 for a Par 3 on the front just made more sense. (top photo 18th hole)
The single-hole approach that Fazio dreamed of was executed to perfection at TPC.
That’s because it is here that he dropped the hammer on the tree-lined hole approach that all but cuts every hole here off from its predecessor and successor. During certain portions of the year, you’re only going to be able to see multiple holes at once in slivers.
Welcome to a focusing paradise.
TPC not only encourages you to forget about everything else. It’s required that you tune in to the task at hand.
You’ll have plenty to worry about with trajectory blasphemes, jutting tree lines, forced carries – you’re going to really want to focus on No. 4 (pictured right), which initially looks easier than you’d ever believe playing for the first time. You won’t have time start worrying about the next hole until you’re looking at it. When that’s not enough, you’ll be staring down the barrel of the No. 18, where Watson uttered up the courage to bust out one last hole to wrap up the 2000 Senior PGA Championship.
Ian Guerin has been covering sports and golf in South Carolina since 2004. His game has ebbed and flowed like the Atlantic, but he’s never had to explain to his kids why his round won’t be televised. You can follow along with the day-to-day conversation on Twitter @iguerin
Myrtle Beach Golf Course Designer Spotlight: Tom Faziojkopp2023-02-23T14:56:52+00:00