Red Sky’s Norman and Fazio courses opened within a couple of years of each other at the start of new millennium. More than a decade later, it’s clear from the prominent positions they occupy in the Colorado rankings that they’re two of the best layouts in the Centennial State.
The Fazio course debuted in 2002, a year before the Norman course appeared, and even though the fairways weave across a mountain landscape, they’ve been designed to hug the contours in such a way that golfers never face an excessive incline or decline during the course of a round.
To demonstrate how well the holes fit the land, the first par three is not encountered until the 7th hole, a wonderful heroic carry of 237 yards from the back markers across an intimidating gully to the green.
When you discover that the next two short holes then appear back-to-back at holes 9 and 10 it surely tells you that even Tom Fazio recognises a formulaic configuration of properly spaced out par threes and par fives doesn’t always work when the terrain dictates otherwise.
Completing the quartet of par three holes on the Fazio layout, the 168-yard 17th might just be the best of the bunch, playing downhill to an angled green that lies to the back of a small pond.Much of the indigenous vegetation was relocated into nurseries during construction then re-planted to preserve the natural habitat.
Give Tom Fazio credit for creating a very attractive layout at Red Sky Ranch. The beauty of the terrain masks a layout that is fairly pedestrian in the shot values it requires players to make. The layout is anything but dull -- but it's also anything but strategic in its calculations. The topography is rolling without being excessive but the genius of a top tier layout is the wherewithal to test all the clubs and force players to execute a wide array of shots. That's not found here.
There's plenty of eye-candy bunkers to dot the landscape but many of them are simply added "lipstick" with little beyond the high gloss provided.
For those wishing to see the real deal -- it's best to head and play the companion course at Red Sky Ranch -- the Greg Norman design. The Fazio course is akin to a breezy summer fiction novel -- its fills the time but is quickly forgotten when other pursuits / courses come calling.
by M. James Ward