The collective nature of golf options on Hilton Head Island is truly amazing. The second largest island on America’s east coast - trailing only New York’s Long Island - has been providing golfers with a number of fine options to consider when travelling there.
Among the more challenging courses is the 18-hole layout at Palmetto Dunes named after the man who designed it - George Fazio.
Fazio was a gifted player - losing to Ben Hogan in a three-way playoff for the US Open title in 1950 - the beginning of Hogan’s epic comeback from a near fatal car crash. Fazio would win twice on the PGA Tour, with triumphs in the 1946 Canadian Open and the 1947 Bing Crosby Pro-Am. When his playing days ended Fazio opted to design courses and this became the pathway for his two nephews - Tom and Jim - to do likewise. It was Tom who expanded the business to become one of the most successful and prolific architects.
At one time The Fazio Course was among the top 100 layouts as determined by Golf Digest. It was then, and is now, far more than your typical resort course that often provides nothing more than pedestrian holes.
The penultimate 17th hole is positioned to play a significant role in determining how golfers finish their round. The hole has plenty of elasticity with
front tees starting at 122 yards, stretching to a maximum of 230 yards.
Having multiple tees is just one part of the compelling architecture presented. The various tee boxes have slightly different playing angles into a green protected by a frontal water hazard. The hazard is just one main obstacle. There is also a solitary frontal bunker on the left side and pinching in - also from the left - is out-of-bounds.
When the pin is placed in the front left corner or the extreme far right the need to properly gauge distance is paramount. Generally, the prevailing wind is usually into the player and sometimes blowing across the hole from left-to-right off the nearby Atlantic Ocean. Any shot that drifts the slightest right can easily provide a quick donation to the Palmetto Dunes golf ball fund.
Bolstering the 17th is a series of closing par-4 holes - starting at the 15th - which mandate top tier shotmaking. There is little compromise in any of the ending holes: a demanding gauntlet that accepts nothing less than first rate execution. The Fazio course is befitting a man who played the game at the highest of levels and created a layout that asks for nothing less than one’s best.