Course Review: Fazio ranks among Myrtle Beach’s best

April 8, 2009

The layout’s greatest asset is in its consistency. The course has no weak links (no pun intended!).

“I think playability (is a strength),” Dave Genevro, Barefoot’s general manager, said. “It’s fair from any set of tees. If you strike the ball well, you can score.”

The Fazio Course doesn’t overwhelm players with length, playing 6,834 yards from the platinum tees (though it’s a par 71). The layout has a total of five sets of tees and only two of them play over 6,000 yards, but don’t be fooled. The black tees play 6,350 yards and only the best of golfers should venture back to the tips.

“Your first time playing the Fazio Course, don’t bite off more than you can chew,” Genevro said. “Don’t be afraid to play 6,300 yards. That might seem short to you, but it plays every bit of it.”

The layout features more than 90 bunkers and water on 16 of 18 holes, giving players plenty to look at it. While water is everywhere, it often only comes into play on the worst of shots. The Fazio Course’s bunkers are much more penal, factoring into almost every shot. Waste bunkers, pot bunkers, fairway and greenside bunkers, Fazio has them all.

The course isn’t exceedingly long, but the fairways are narrow in spots and the bunkers punish wayward shots, making it difficult to reach the green in regulation. The course’s layout rewards accuracy off the tee and demands a precision iron game into greens that have considerable undulation.

In addition to undulation, Fazio’s A-1 bentgrass greens are always in impeccable condition, meaning lack of speed isn’t a problem.

There are layouts in Myrtle Beach that attract more attention than the Fazio Course and the Barefoot brand can overshadow the courses individually, but Fazio is one of the area’s finest.

“It’s the favorite course of everybody I know,” said John King, who retired to Barefoot from the Northeast. “Fazio has character, good bunker placement and spacious fairways, but don’t slip up, don’t make a mistake.”

Number 6 green at the Fazio Course at Barefoot Resort

Par 3s
Four of the five par 3s feature large bodies of the water and another has ample wetlands, making water the dominant characteristic of Fazio’s par 3s. The par 3s are also your best chance to make up shots on the course.

Five of Fazio’s six easiest holes, according to the scorecard are par 3s. No. 6 is the most difficult and also the most scenic. Playing 191 yards from an elevated tee, the sixth hole has a large green with a ridge running through the middle of it and water on the left. It’s not a difficult green to hit, but if you are in the wrong place, good luck with the putt.

The shortest par 3 is the 170-yard, third hole. It’s the easiest hole on the front nine, and there is plenty of green to work with. If high-handicappers can avoid being intimidated by the water, it gives everyone a chance to feel good, sandwiched between the difficult second, fourth and fifth holes.

The longest one-shotter is the 198-yard 16th hole, which the scorecard ranks as the easiest hole on the back nine. The additional length and a waste bunker that runs from tee to green (with water to its right) makes 16 play more difficult than its scorecard rank.

The par 3s are a fun collection of holes that offer the chance for a good score, but don’t be misled by the scorecard rankings. Errant shots can lead to big numbers.

Par 4s
The diversity of the par 4s capture the charm of the Fazio layout. The holes range from short (346 yards) to very long (499 yards) and each offers a different type of challenge.  The aforementioned fifth hole and the 458-yard second are the two toughest holes on the course.

The second requires a substantial drive to put a player in position to reach the green on the dogleg left. The first and ninth holes, by no means pushovers, offer a manageable beginning and end to the front-side.

The back nine par 4s follow a similar arc. Holes 13 through 15 range from 346 to 380 yards, rewarding placement instead of power. The 15th is the easiest hole on the course, according to Genevro, playing just 346 yards from the tips. If a player finds the fairway, a relatively easy approach awaits.

Fazio’s closing two holes place a greater premium power. No. 17, a 415-yard hole, requires a forced carry of more than 200 yards over water before a generous landing area comes into play. The 18th is an outstanding finishing hole. It’s 453 yards with water running up the entire left side and wind always seems to be in your face.

Par 5s
The longest par 5 is 558 yards and the shortest is 533 so there isn’t tremendous variance in length. Fairway bunkers lurk on each par 5, and Fazio doesn’t give away strokes. You earn everything you get.

Collectively the par 5s represent four of Fazio’s seven most difficult holes, according to the scorecard.

The 533-yard, 12th hole is a dogleg right but big-hitters willing to flirt with a waste bunker on the right have the opportunity to go for it in two, but that isn’t the percentage play. A small green flanked by bunkers and water discourages players from taking a shot at glory.

The 548-yard fourth hole might be the easiest par 5, as long as it’s played intelligently. The fairway is comfortably wide from start to finish, offering players willing to play a controlled game the opportunity to advance the ball to a green that has a of movement.

Verdict: Tom Fazio designed an outstanding course at Barefoot Resort. His namesake layout is absolutely worth the Top 100 ranking it earned from Golf Digest. The fairway bunkers, water and wetlands combine with Fazio’s design work to make it Barefoot’s most visually appealing layout.

The Fazio Course doesn’t overwhelm players with difficulty; it’s an exceedingly fair layout, but don’t let pride get in the way of the tees you should be playing from. The scorecard recommends handicaps of 13 and over play from the 5,678-yard white tees. Think long and hard before ignoring that advice.

Play from the tees you are supposed to and enjoy one of the best designed and maintained Myrtle Beach golf courses.