George Fazio



Born: Nov 12, 1912 (Norristown, Pa.) - Died: Jun 6, 1986

Like many touring pros of his era, George Fazio dabbled in a variety of enterprises -- in and out of the golf industry.

He was a good enough player to win the 1946 Canadian Open and lose in a playoff in the 1950 U.S. Open to Ben Hogan. In those days, however, the meager prize money required most players to cash in on their fame in other golf-related pursuits.

He was the head professional at six different Philadelphia-area clubs. He owned driving ranges, a car dealership, and even a scrap-metal business.

But those pursuits became back-burner activities when Fazio discovered his calling as a course designer.

His life changed in 1955 when he was hired to renovate Cobbs Creek for the PGA Tour stop in his hometown. A few years later, his breakthrough came with his creation of Waynesborough, a private course that he designed, owned and operated.

For a course architect who didn't realize his calling until he was in his mid 40s, Fazio has an impressive resume of 64 designs that includes Palmetto Dunes in Hilton Head Island, S.C., Jupiter Hills in south Florida, Edgewood on Lake Tahoe, Butler National, Hershey East and Pinehurst No. 6. He also redesigned the major-championship duo of Inverness in Ohio and Oak Hill in New York.

Most of this work was done with the help of his nephew, Tom Fazio, who later built a brilliant career in the business.

"If not for him, I'd be caddying somewhere for a living," Tom Fazio once said.

George Fazio was the son of working-class Italian immigrants, one of eight children. He took up caddying and playing golf at age 9. A decade later, he landed an assistant professional job and soon became a Philadelphia-area golf fixture, winning local tournaments and becoming the head professional at famed Pine Valley.

Years later, when his design business dried up in Philadelphia, Fazio took his operations to Jupiter, Fla., where he lived his last 16 years before his death in 1986.

While Fazio never maximized his golf talent, he never apologized for it either.

"What are you going to do, hit golf balls for the rest of your life?" Fazio said. "I'm not saying it's wrong, but for me, it's boring. I don't think anybody should take more than five years to do anything. You should do six or eight or 20 things in a lifetime."


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