Myrtle Beach Golf Course Designer Spotlight: Tom Fazio

Story by Ian Guerin

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.Myrtle Beach Golf Course Designer Spotlight: Tom Fazio-TPC Myrtle Beach

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