Tom Fazio might not design the world’s toughest courses but there is little doubt in our mind that he designs appealing and generally exciting layouts. He is also a man on a mission, a mission to have his name tattooed on the top Texan courses. Naturally, Fazio is the man behind Dallas National Golf Club.
We’ve know a fair bit about Tom Fazio and we think he is a magnificent architect but we do sometimes wonder: “If Dallas National were the only course I ever designed, I feel I would have had a great career.” The fact of the matter is that Dallas National is just another of Fazio’s top-notch creations. If you have a multi-multi-million dollar budget and you want to create another exclusive private members club then he is definitely the man for you.
Elevation, elevation, elevation seems to be the motto for successful modern US golf courses and Dallas National is no different. Set in a limestone canyon, which plunges through and across ravines to raised plateaux landing areas, the course is dramatic and exciting. The conditioning is naturally immaculate and the panoramic views of the city of Dallas and the absence of houses makes a lovely change with a genuine feeling of escape.
This is quintessential Fazio design but a couple of ordinary par threes have sneaked in along with a weak 17th which may peg Dallas National back in the long-term rankings. But there's no doubt that this is a bold new millennium design which will sadly be kept under its members’ lock and key. We think a simple but limited visitor policy would actually help the Dallas National cause and put into practice some of the preacher’s quotes – “They say seeing is believing. But actually seeing Dallas National Golf Club is unbelievable” – which appeared in the local press.
When assessing courses the number one element that I look for is how good is the terrain the layout occupies?
Dallas National is not for the faint of heart. One has to golf your ball around the property. In many instances, architect Tom Fazio specializes in creating end products that have the "look" but usually play down the shotmaking challenges.
That's not the case here.
The site is a former limestone canyon and true to form, Fazio weaves a routing that provides the fullest usage of the property. Just when you think you've seen it all -- there's another hole -- another shot -- that shakes you to full attention.
In years past, the Texas golf scene was rather subdued -- courses located on fairly mundane pieces of property with little to really standout.
Dallas National is a vintage "golf club." The golf takes center stage and Fazio is quick to include a broad array of holes. Interestingly, the layout begins with the most benign impact for an opening hole. Things ramp up rapidly and to Fazio's credit he delivers an end product that captures every nook and cranny on the site.
Texas golf has clearly accelerated its position in the USA. Dallas National is clearly among the finest in Texas and deseres serious mention as being one of Fazio's finest achievements. Why the club does not receive more fanfare escapes me. Too many people have continued to view Texas golf as a backwater when the reality is that those with such an ignorant viewpoint need to spend a bit more time and see what is now happening.
Dallas National delivers.
M. James Ward