Unveiled five years after the 18-hole Nicklaus layout at Carlton Woods first opened for play, the Fazio course lies around three miles to the south of Jack’s Signature course, on the other side of the Woodlands Parkway.
There’s a great deal more movement in the landscape on this site too, affording greater elevation changes and more interesting greensite options. Water plays a part in proceedings at eight of the holes, especially at the 458-yard 5th, the par three 6th and short par four 7th.
On the back nine, a sea of sand in an enormous waste bunker has to be avoided on the all carry 16th while a pond protects the front right of the green at the 445-yard home hole.
The Fazio course sits adjacent to Spring Creek
and in May 2016 severe flooding in southeast Texas caused serious structural damage to
more than half the layout. The club subsequently seized the opportunity to work
with Fazio Design and Heritage Links to renovate and reduce the overall bunker
size by more than a third.
The Nicklaus course is played essentially on a flat course with very difficult green complexes making it a course for better players. The Fazio course at Carlton Woods is played on rolling terrain which creates more visual attractiveness, more variety in the hole design, and more interesting green complexes. Unlike the Nicklaus course, the greens on the Fazio course are contoured in a more “fair” shaping, where the swales, mounds, hollows, and slopes are challenging, but will not penalize a putt struck slightly too hard or slightly off line.
On the Fazio course, there are numerous holes that I like while on the Nicklaus course there are only a couple. This is not meant to diminish a fine golf course, it is merely to point out that the Fazio course is one that you could play several times during the same week and still be eager to play it while the Nicklaus course is one that you might want to play only once every two weeks. Said another way, the Fazio course is for every type of player while the Nicklaus course is meant for better players.
There is a good use of bunkers throughout the course with no “disguised” bunkers. The course’s defenses and opportunities are very much in front of you.
Holes 5-8 around Hogpen Pond are particularly visually attractive.
The course is a par 72. The Fazio tees are 7274 yards rated 75.8/142. The I tees are 6830 yards rated 73.8/138. The II tees are 6478 yards rated 73.1/137. There are two tees of lesser yardages and combination tees between Fazio down to IV tees. We played the II tees due to a tournament with players of varying handicaps and age.
1. Par 4 – 423/396/374. The first plays basically level with a bunker on the right that pinches the fairway dictating the line to the green is either in front of this bunker or to the wider left side. Mr. Fazio provides ample room to the left. However, going down the left side brings a bunker left about 50 yards short of the green into play as well as a bunker that appears on the left of the green but is actually more front left as the green is angled to the left. It is a nice starting hole.
2. Par 5 – 579/558/535. The course ramps up its difficulty on the second hole which again plays relatively flat. This dogleg left has bunkers to either side of the fairway at the turn. Farther up is a long bunker on the left. That fairway dips a bit and rolls as you near the green with a small bunker 45 yards short left. The green has a large fronting bunker on the front right and a much smaller one on the front left. There is another area of short grass back left. This green has a couple of crowns and plateaus in it. It is another good hole.
3. Par 4 – 376/356/333. The third hole plays to a green placed atop a hill. This hole is s dogleg right with flanking bunkers that can be carried. There are scattered trees placed on the right side as you climb towards the green that can block your approach (it did to me). The green has a large bunker on the left side placed below the surface and one at the right front. The green is very wide for the first half, shrinking to smaller at the back with short grass behind it. It is very tilted back to front with a bit of a bowl in the front middle. This is a fun golf hole.
4. Par 5 – 630/580/556. This is a long par 5 from any tee playing as a dogleg right with an inner corner bunker. The fairway narrows as you approach the green. There are a few scattered trees on the left followed by a large bunker about 80 yards short of the green. A final bunker is placed at the right front of this green which has a lower front half and a depression in the back left. There is mounding off to the left side of the green. I was lucky to make a difficult downhill sliding putt from the center rise just off the green to a back left pin. This hole has one of the better greens on the course.
5. Par 4 – 453/421/396. The fourth is one of the more visually attractive holes on the golf course playing ultimately as a dogleg right due to the green being placed behind a pond that eats into the fairway. The tee shot has a bunker down the right that will save a ball from entering the water. My one critique of the hole is the narrowing fairway once past the single fairway bunker. There is a single slightly raised bunker placed between the pond and the green. The green has a higher plateau on its right side. It is a lovely hole.
6. Par 3 – 161/149135. The first par 3 plays over a pond from a slightly elevated tee. However, the pond does not quite go to the front of the green which gives one a bit more confidence. Hitting right or long will have a decent chance to recover although the grass is taller. The green slopes back to front with a center mound. This is another nice hole.
7. Par 4 – 302/288/275. The first risk-reward hole on the golf course with Hogpen Pond down the right side, now coming into play for the third hole in a row. Hogpen Pond also is behind the green. There are two bunkers on the right between the fairway and pond, the later one being 25 yards from the green. There is a bunker covering most of the front of the green which has a couple of tiers. I like the hole because it is both attractive and fun.
8. Par 4 – 423/399/380. This hole is heavily tree lined on both sides. Due to a fairway bunker pinching into the fairway from the left, the hole makes you play it as a slight dogleg left. The green offers one single bunker on the left side to a green angled to the left. The fairway has a few dips and rises in it.
9. Par 3 – 223/194/194. A long par 3 with a large bunker set below the green level on the left side. The green has a lot of subtle interior movement with a bowl at the very front that has much more break than it appears. The rest of the green is sloped sharply back to front.
10. Par 4 – 425/400/380. This hole has an unnecessary bunker on the left that is there only for eye candy. It is followed by flanking bunkers at the turn of this dogleg left. The green is placed on higher ground with a bunker front and on the left side. This is one of the better holes on the back nine.
11. Par 5 – 581/550/512. I like the hole because of the land movement after the tee shot to the green. The hole plays essentially straight with bunkers left and right. There is a bunker left that must be avoided on the second shot. 60 yards short of the green are flanking bunkers placed at the perfect spot. The green is raised with a fall-off to the left side and a bunker on the right. I feel this is the best par 5 on the course although the fourth hole has a more interesting green surface.
12. Par 4 – 363/343/322. This is another fun hole, not quite risk-reward as the green sits above you and is much larger than it appears. The dogleg right has three bunkers on the inner corner. The green has two front bunkers. It is a lovely short par 4 and somewhat of a breather hole on the course.
13. Par 4 – 435/405/405. This hole offers a stream that cuts diagonally across the fairway about 80-50 yards from the green. There are flanking bunkers before the stream. The green sits above you on a slight hill with two bunkers on the left. This has another one of the more interesting green surfaces on the course.
14. Par 3 – 183/160/160. A longer par 3 with bunkers on the left playing across a valley to the green. This is one of the more benign greens on the course.
15. Par 5 – 503/466/432. The last breather hole on the course with a single fairway bunker right and one on the right side of the green. However, the green has a lot of interior movement which makes up for its lack of length.
16. Par 3 – 200/180/158. This hole is out-of-place as it has a long waste bunker down the left side from tee to green. While it makes for a visually attractive hole, it is unnecessary from a maintenance and playing standpoint.
17. Par 5 – 584/558/528. There are bunkers everywhere, nine in total sprinkled down both sides of the fairway. The most devious one are the two final ones that act almost as cross bunkers 70-50 yards from the green. Finally there are two front bunkers to a small green for the length of the hole.
18. Par 4 – 441/427/403. This is another visually pleased hole with a pond coming into play that squeezes the fairway to half its size. Longer hitters will likely lay up off the tee given the size of the fairway and with a bunker on the left side. The green sits about fifteen feet above you and behind the pond with two fronting bunkers. It is one of the most slanted greens on the course with a front left bowl. The clubhouse sits directly behind the green on higher ground making this a visual delight from tee to green. It is a very good finishing hole and likely decides a lot of matches.
The Fazio course at Carlton Woods is a delight to play due to the land movement which lead to greens set upon higher ground. The land movement also leads to dips and rolls and even some landing plateaus in several of the fairways. The green surfaces do offer a lot of contours and slope, but not overly done.
This course blends in very well with its surroundings and is a delight to play.