DICK WILSON, TOM FAZIO AND ROBERT THOMPSON
Proving once again that not only can we learn something every day, but that Robert Thompson's blog can teach us something everyday, Robert's blog Going for the Green ran an excellent article on the controversial architect Dick Wilson. I knew very little about this designer, so the article was informative and entertaining. Robert also mentions again the debate which has come to head this year about Tom Fazio's designs being used for the pro tour. The article is here
I am going to disagree only with one part of the article, the last sentence, where Robert mentions he finds Fazio courses not very memorable. As a self described "golf adventure traveler, I can recommend several wonderful and atmospheric Fazio designs where I find EACH hole memorable. Some great ones are below. Robert, I welcome your thoughts and input on these courses.
1. Ventana Canyon (Mountain and Canyon courses), Tucson, AZ - Fazio built two showstoppers at the feet of the Santa Catalina Mountains in the heart of the Saguaro National Forest. Ancient, stately cacti stand sentinel along the fairways and tee boxes. Holes wind through one of the most unique and stunning Audobon preserves in the country. Hole 3 at the Mtn is the signature, a 100 yd par three played from an island teebox high over a canyon to an "island" green. Miss the green and your ball is 100 feet below in the canyon. Purely heroic and drop dead gorgeous. Pay $199 a night for 36 holes and a four star hotel room at the refined and posh Lodge at Ventana canyon for a world class golf vacation at a price that shatters the typical resort bill you pay at other top resorts like the Greenbriar or Homesteads or Barton Creek.
2. World Woods (Pine barrens and Rolling oaks) - Ranked in the top 10 public courses int he country, World Woods may be the best facility you never heard of. Two great courses and the worlds largest 22 acre "practice park" complete with three warm up holes. my article is here
Again, the $160 price tag for 36 holes and a hotel room at the amenity-laden Plantation Inn means the famly can hunker down for several days (or is that "bunker down? I never can remember...)
3. Greyhawk (Raptor)- overshadowed by its more famous brother, the Talon course, this kitty litter classic (as some call desert courses) is impeccably manicured, eminently playable and costs $50 in summer...that's a bargain all day long...
4. Pine Hill, Clementon, NJ - yes I know its a mile from Pine Valley and feathers were ruffled...I also know the $140 price tag and even worse $30 price tag to just use the range are barbaric (blame Empire Golf, not Fazio), but the course is excellent and memorable. The finishing stretch is a whopping six memorable holes long, including the terrific 18th. (see pic above.) plus its easy to get to just off I-95 six miles from Philly. Even golf starved NYCers will endure the drive down.
There are many others...Sylvan Treetops, TPC Myrtle Beach, PGA Village...for the playing public its great value, great conditioning, wide fairways, easy bogeys but challenging pars, and great use of nature's beauty. Since the pros "look through a straw" when playing, i.e. they see their ball and the pin and zome everything else out, sure...he may not translate as well to the tour. But Fazio belongs in the select pantheon of great designers.