Tom Fazio has no shortage of considerable achievements in the world of golf course design. He has been named Best Modern Day Golf Course Architect three times. He also has been given the highest award given by the Golf Course Superintendent’s Association, of which I am a proud member, the Old Tom Morris Award. He has more golf courses ranked in the top 100 in the U.S. than any other living golf course architect.
His over 120 designs include such notable golf courses as The Estancia Club, The Quarry at La Quinta, Ridgefield Golf Course and Pinehurst #4. But perhaps one of his most noted achievements is a course he didn’t even design.
Quail Hollow, in Charlotte, North Carolina, is not a Fazio design, but is, rather, a Fazio redesign. Originally designed by George Cobb, the club opened in 1961. It held the Kemper Open from 1969 to 1979. After the Kemper Open left Fazio was brought in for his redesign, which was done from 1996 to 1997.
Fazio remade the course. Among many changes, he tightened up the fairways considerably, as well as gave elevation to the greens and created false fronts. The bunkers were also made over completely.
In 2003 the PGA came back to Quail Hollow with the annual Quail Hollow Championship. Players who have won this event include Tiger Woods, David Toms, Anthony Kim and Jim Furyk. Last year’s winner was Sean O’Hair.
Again this weekend the Quail Hollow Championship will feature some of the greatest golfers in the world, as the field is always strong for this event. The players love the course, and also like the timing of it, a week before The Player’s Championship at TPC Sawgrass. The field includes Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and the surging Lee Westwood.
Quail Hollow is a par 72 that plays 7422 yards for the pros. Last year Quail Hollow ranked 19th most difficult on the PGA tour. The course record is 64, held by Kirk Triplett, Bo Van Pelt and Rory Sabbatini.
The course offers three reachable par 5’s, #7, #10 and #15; but all three of these holes have trouble if you gamble to try and get home in two and don’t hit a good shot. The toughest hole is the 18th , a 478 yard par 4. A bunker on the right and a narrow creek on the left call for an accurate tee-shot. The green is deep and sloped, with hazards on both sides.
The last three holes, in fact, are all tough. Last year #16 played 4th toughest, #17 2nd toughest, and, as mentioned, #18 the toughest. The 17th also deserves a quick word. It is a 217 yard par 3 over water. A rock wall borders the left and front of the green. The green is undulated and one of the toughest putting holes on the course.
Being a Golf Course Superintendent myself, I will always give it up for the super when talking about a course. Jeff Kent (not the Giants old second baseman) is the Superintendent at Quail Hollow.
Future of Quail Hollow
The current agreement Quail Hollow has with the PGA keeps this tournament on the slate through 2014. There is talk that perhaps Quail Hollow will be able to land a PGA Championship in the not too distant future. The PGA Championship is at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin this August, and then next year at the Atlanta Athletic Club.
Regardless of what happens in the future, there is no doubt that right now this Tom Fazio redesign is a player favorite, and we’ll see why this weekend.