Golf Designer Spotlight: Tom Fazio

Discover Modern Day Golf Course Architect Tom Fazio

Avid players know that golf is much more than a mere competition –– it is a captivating experience that allows golfers to participate in an endless variety of challenges and experiences. Designed with natural elements in mind, golf courses inspire and motivate players to give it their all if they hope to succeed. 

In the end, golf course designers and architects bear a great deal of responsibility, both to the landscape and the sport. To be considered among the greatest designers, they must represent true mastery of the sport and a deep appreciation for how the environment affects gameplay. As a designer, Tom Fazio achieves just that. Putting together the natural elements of the land to create a playable course that utilizes the natural elements of the land is one of his greatest strengths.

Read on to learn about Tom Fazio, the mastermind behind so many well-known designs around the world. In addition, we will discover a few of his most notable courses –– including two at The Cliffs.  


Born and raised in Norristown, Pennsylvania, Tom Fazio is an American golf course architect with more than 50 years of experience. His love affair with the sport began as a teenager when he began working with his uncle, George Fazio, in golf course construction. To this day, he credits his success to his early start in the industry.  

Professional Career 

Over the years, Fazio learned from some of the best players and designers in the sport, including Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Pete Dye. The world-class mentorship that he received helped him develop his own philosophy and style as a golf course architect. Over the years, Fazio has designed and redesigned more than 200 golf courses for his company, Fazio Design. 

When asked about his design approach he says, “golf shouldn’t be overly difficult, but it shouldn’t be easy” –– something he strives to accomplish on every project he is a part of. Today, Tom Fazio is often referred to as the “Best Modern Day Golf Course Designer” after winning the award from Golf Digest for three consecutive years. He attributes Fazio Design’s success to his collaborative mindset and committed team members. 

Courses Designed By Tom Fazio

Whether you’re in search of a coastal retreat or a stunning mountain course, let’s take a look at a few of the one-of-a-kind designs Tom Fazio has created over the years. 

Waterville Golf Links | Ireland

One of Ireland’s top-ranked courses, Waterville Golf Links is a true masterpiece, to say the least. Built on natural dune lands completely encompassed by diverse natural features, no matter where you turn, you’ll have a stunning view of the charming Irish countryside. 

When creating this course, Fazio worked alongside one of Ireland’s most well-known designers, Eddie Hackett. Regarded as “the father of golf course design,this collaboration with Hackett allowed the course to remain true to the land, accentuating the country’s natural beauty from every hole. 

Sandy Lane Golf Club | Barbados

Carved out of a limestone quarry, The Green Monkey Course in Barbados is simply breathtaking. With a striking contrast between the lush greens of the course and the exposed rock of the landscape, this course leaves players with a lasting impression. Designed by Fazio to make use of the dramatic elevation changes, the course is an exciting challenge for players of all skill levels.  

Pelican Hill Golf Club | California

Featuring two Tom Fazio-designed courses, Pelican Hill Golf Club in Newport Beach is a world-class golfing destination you won’t want to miss. The North Ocean Course offers sweeping panoramic views of the Pacific, while the South Ocean Course is characterized by the soaring eucalyptus trees and sage that meet the sea on the horizon –– both magnificent in their own right. And with more than 300 days of sunny weather each year, this is every golfer’s dream vacation destination.

Osprey Point at Kiawah Island | South Carolina 

With pristine conditions, an elegant clubhouse and a world-class design, Osprey Point at Kiawah Island is another of Fazio’s designs that stand out over his career. This member-only course was completely renovated in 2014 to highlight the beauty of the island. From natural lagoons to tree-lined fairways, this course offers a truly memorable experience.

The Cliffs at Keowee Springs | South Carolina 

Located in The Lake Region, The Cliffs at Keowee Springs golf course is a versatile course that grants players the opportunity to choose their own adventure per se. While the main attraction is undoubtedly the Blue Ridge Mountains that frame the course from a distance, the rolling green hills create a stark contrast that adds interest to the design.

The layout includes three approachable loops of six holes, so, even when you are short on time, you can still head out to the course and play a quick round of six or 12 holes. There is also a set of family tees that adds to the flexibility of the design and allow players of all abilities to enjoy the course. 

The Cliffs at Keowee Vineyards | South Carolina

The second Fazio signature course at The Cliffs is found at The Cliffs at Keowee Vineyards. Situated along the scenic Lake Keowee, this course’s design highlights the emerald water of the lake. With eight holes highlighting this feature, players make their way around coves that tuck in and out of the shoreline, while taking in the sweeping views of the blue-toned mountains in the background. Undoubtedly the most spectacular hole of the design is the 17th hole that plunges deep into the lake –– even Fazio himself says it’s the most beautiful hole he’s designed in the Carolinas.     

The Golf Experience at The Cliffs

Golf is an integral part of the member experience here at The Cliffs and our Golf Membership is unlike any other, giving members access to not one, but seven premier golf courses, clubhouses, wellness centers, and other exclusive luxury amenities.

Whether you are new to the sport or have been playing for years, our golf community has tools for everyone to improve their skills and continue to remain passionate about the game, day after day. Each course is designed to complement the natural character of the land –– making play distinct and the competition even more enjoyable. And, with state-of-the-art practice facilities, cutting-edge technology, and top professionals on staff, it’s easy to pinpoint the exact areas of your game to focus on to play your best golf. 

To learn how to transform your life at The Cliffs through club membership, click on the button below. 


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