NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- Nestled next to the internationally known Dye Club, Barefoot Resort's Fazio Course isn't locked into a supporting role.
Now midway through its second decade, the resort course's competitive fire has exceeded expectations and grown it into a property that routinely finishes among the top 20 golf courses in South Carolina by various voting panels.
Precise maintenance specifications and upkeep are as expected from the upper-tier course with an upper-tier price tag. But Fazio once again proved you get what you pay for.
The 18 holes flow from start to finish. Not only is nearby housing invisible -- thanks in part to the large area and pine-laden land Tom Fazio had to play with -- but even spotting one hole from another is rare here. It made the course a natural starting position for the first two episodes of Golf Channel's "Big Break Myrtle Beach" reality show, as competitors were able to focus on challenges sans distractions.
However, this course is one that sticks out to more than those simply conducting a handful of single trick shots or closest-to-the-pin trials.
Barefoot Fazio: The course
Much like Barefoot Resort's Love Course and Norman Course and the semi-private Dye Club , the Fazio Course utilizes several grasses. They include the GN-1 hybrid (tees and fairways), Tif-Sports Bermuda (approaches), 419 Bermuda (roughs) and Champion UltraDrarf (greens). The last part of that list was a project that began in 2011 to replace the club's old bentgrass greens.
For many, those grass differences impact play much more than the 99 total bunkers or water located on or near 15 of the 18 holes on the par-71, 6,834-yard Fazio Course.
"There were a lot of bunkers. But there were a lot of bunkers that weren't in play," Greg Cumbey, a 10-handicap from Springfield, Va. said after a recent round. "To play the whites, that was a fair distance. We didn't have any 200-yard forced carries. (The landing areas) were generous but not stupid-wide fairways."
That means scores can add up because of only a few inches. The playability from the fairways to the roughs is considerable during certain portions of the year when the 419 Bermuda is extremely thick. Hitting two clubs longer out isn't unheard of.
But that's also where much of the water and sand comes into play. Misjudging distances because of the thick rough -- some of it accompanied by native grasses and the aforementioned pines -- can leave you spiraling on plenty of holes.
Stay out of it, though, and Fazio provided an opportunity to go the other direction.
"They told me it was tougher than the Love Course," Cumbey said. "I disagree. It was very playable. There were a number of short par 4s. If I had hit it well, I think I could have scored really well."
Barefoot's Fazio Course: Facilities and instruction
For its members and visitors, Barefoot Resort offers a pair of options that have become popular, while not out-doing each other. The Dyer Golf Academy and Greg Norman's Champions Golf Academy co-exist on a 30-acre range and teaching facility. The latter is believed to encompass the second-largest golf academy in the United States.
The 35,000-square-foot complex at the resort course also includes an oversized pro shop and restaurant with a full dining and bar menu. The back porch overlooks Fazio's 18th hole.
Barefoot Resort's Fazio Course: The verdict
One of the appealing qualities Barefoot Fazio brings to the table is its straight-line approach. There is no formal turn, with players able to get to no. 10 from the previous hole about as fast as they can flip the score card.
That avenue doesn't work everywhere, but it seems to be custom-built for courses such as Fazio. Rounds here can fly, and with pristine conditions from tee box to green throughout -- and with a few other options for pit stops and refreshments along the way -- there's little need to get in your own way.
Let the staff load up your bag, grab a couple drinks, tee off on no. 1 and take advantage of one of the Myrtle Beach area's nicest golf courses.