Tom Fazio

Full Name
Thomas Fazio
Website:
Visit Website
Year of Birth
1945
Place Born
Norristown, Pennsylvania, USA

“Golf shouldn’t be overly difficult, but it shouldn’t be easy.” So says Tom Fazio, who believes that the classic tension in golf course design is not between risk and reward, but between playability and difficulty.

Tom Fazio was born in Norristown in the northwestern suburbs of Philadelphia and was educated at nearby Lansdale Catholic High School. He “entered the business of golf course architecture as a teenager in 1962,” wrote Geoff Cornish and Ron Whitten in The Golf Course, “assisting his uncle George in course construction. His on-the-job training and experience gave him intimate knowledge in engineering, landscape design, soils, accounting and business. By the early Seventies he became a full partner with George and the partnership became one of the nation’s leading course design firms.”

Tom commented as follows in the foreword of his book, Golf Course Design: “I was fortunate in getting an early start in the golf course design business with my uncle, George Fazio, and learning about golf from George and the great masters who were his contemporaries, men like Byron Nelson, Jimmy Demaret, and Sam Snead. As the business and golf grew, I was lucky in my choice of competitors, too, people like Pete Dye, Jack Nicklaus, and Arnold Palmer, and many others who became friends, as well as competitors. I’ve learned from all of them...”

“When I started in golf design, I remember listening to recognized golf architects and well-known professional golfers talking about “classic” designs, whatever they are, and of building holes styled after the original Redan Hole at North Berwick, the Postage Stamp at Troon, the Road Hole at St Andrews, and other famous places. And I always had the same reaction to such statements: Why would you want to do something that’s already been done? Those are certainly wonderful holes, and stand as historic monuments of the game, but I have no interest in trying to copy them.”

Tom Fazio’s early designs were mainly collaborations with his uncle George, and their first high-end course (Jack Rabbit) was built in 1964 at Champions Golf Club in Houston, followed in 1967 by Edgewood Tahoe in Nevada. But it was their 1970 ensemble at Jupiter Hills in Tequesta, Florida, that blazed the trail for the uncle and nephew team. Top-class designs followed at Butler National (1972) and The National Golf Club of Canada (1974).

In 1972, Tom established his own design firm in Jupiter. According to lore, his uncle George often credited his nephew with vitalizing his own career in golf course architecture. The pair continued to collaborate through the first half of the 1970s prior to Tom setting out on his own.

Accolades are important to Tom Fazio. He’s proud to have been named the top American golf course architect in a poll conducted by Golf Digest in 1991, and he also won a separate award recognizing excellence in golf course design in 1993 and 1995 from the same magazine. He even maintains a dedicated awards section on his website, whereby he states he has fifteen courses in Golf Digest’s 2017-2018 US Top 100, “more than any other designer”.

There are currently no Tom Fazio designs in our World Top 100, but there are five Fazio courses in our 2018 US Top 100: Gozzer Ranch, Wade Hampton, Shadow Creek, Victoria National and Butler National, so there’s no doubt that his creations are still relevant more than fifty years after he started out in the business of golf course design.

Tom’s son, T. Logan Fazio, has been working alongside his father since the mid-1990s – Logan is now President of Fazio Design. Tom’s nephew, Tom Fazio II, also has his own design company, so the Fazio architectural dynasty is future-proofed.

Snippets

Keith Cutten in The Evolution of Golf Course Design has this to say about the architect: “In a career spanning more than forty years, Tom Fazio has designed, or reworked, more than 200 golf courses worldwide. Interestingly, though, Tom does not live for design. He performs his role, satisfies his clients, and is not known to get bogged down on matters. More than most architects, Fazio thrives on non-design pursuits. In 1993, wanting more out of life and keen to make a difference, he and Sue Fazio, his wife, set up the Boys and Girls Club, Henderson County. This is but one of numerous charities supported by the Fazio family.

It is no secret that the Fazio name moves real estate in a big way; even more so than other ‘signature’ designers. Tom Fazio’s design style is ideal for this arrangement, as his emphasis on aesthetic value suits the marketing needs of most developers. Similarly, his style has displayed well on the covers of the industry’s top magazines. This free publicity has improved his stocks, and those of the courses he has created, frequently leading to higher rankings.”

Golf Course Designs published in 2000: “Golf shouldn’t be overly difficult, but it shouldn’t be easy.” So says Tom Fazio, who believes that the classic tension in golf course design is not between risk and reward, but between playability and difficulty.

Shadow Creek: From Barren Desert to Desert Oasis published in 1995.

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Courses designed by and courses remodelled and added to by Tom Fazio

Adare Manor

Gem Ireland - Best in Area

Following J. P. McManus’s acquisition of Adare Manor in 2015, the old RTJ-designed parkland course has gone, replaced by a new Tom Fazio layout which opened in May 2018.

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Average Reviewers Score:
Description: Following J. P. McManus’s acquisition of Adare Manor in 2015, the old RTJ-designed parkland course has gone, replaced by a new Tom Fazio layout which opened in May 2018. Rating: 4 out of 6
TaylorMade

Aldarra

4th Washington - Best in Area

Constructed on a 560-acre property that once belonged to the Boeing family, Tom Fazio’s course at Aldarra Golf Club was his first project in the Pacific Northwest region, opening in 2001.

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Average Reviewers Score:
Description: Constructed on a 560-acre property that once belonged to the Boeing family, Tom Fazio’s course at Aldarra Golf Club was his first project in the Pacific Northwest region, opening in 2001. Rating: 5 out of 6
TaylorMade

Alotian

1st Arkansas - Best in Area

Billionaire investment banker, Warren Stephens, had a golf dream and his realisation, costing a cool $18m, is the Alotian Club.

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Average Reviewers Score:
Description: Billionaire investment banker, Warren Stephens, had a golf dream and his realisation, costing a cool $18m, is the Alotian Club. Rating: 3.7 out of 6
TaylorMade

Baker’s Bay

2nd Bahamas Ranking 6th Caribbean Ranking

Laid out on a sliver of sandy shoreline along the west flank of Great Guana Cay, Baker’s Bay first opened in 2010 when it was unveiled as Discovery Land Company’s fourteenth residential golf project.

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Average Reviewers Score:
TaylorMade

Barefoot Resort (Fazio)

57th South Carolina - Best in Area

Designed with the visual impact of water at fifteen holes, the Fazio course lies between the Love and Dye layouts at the 72-hole Barefoot Resort.

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Average Reviewers Score:
TaylorMade

Barton Creek (Fazio Foothills)

24th Texas - Best in Area

One of four 18-hole designs at the Barton Creek resort, the Fazio Foothills layout was constructed on an undulating site that enjoys significant elevation changes during a round.

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Average Reviewers Score:
TaylorMade

Belfair (East)

32nd South Carolina - Best in Area

Tom Fazio’s East course at Belfair Golf Club appeared in 1999, three years after his West course debuted at the same Bluffton location, and both layouts comprise a formidable challenge at this 36-hole facility.

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Average Reviewers Score:
TaylorMade

Belfair (West)

31st South Carolina - Best in Area

The West course at Belfair Golf Club is the older - and tougher - of two Tom Fazio layouts in a large forested property that lies along the inlets and wetlands of the Colleton River.

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Average Reviewers Score:
TaylorMade