Brandon Mumaw is on Hilton Head Island this week. He played the George Fazio course at Palmetto Dunes on Wednesday, and sent this collection of photos. His write-up will be featured soon, in this space.
Hilton Head Island, SC is recognized for its biking paths, seafood, and golf. You’ll find more than 20 championship golf courses on the island, which is just 42 square miles in size. The Island is located on the very southeastern part of South Carolina, which makes it an easy destination whether driving or flying into Savannah, GA or Charleston, SC.
Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort is home to three championship golf courses – George Fazio, Arthur Hills, and Robert Trent Jones. The George Fazio course is a par-70 championship course that is known for being one of the most challenging tracks on Hilton Head Island. The par-70 course plays just under 7,000 yards from the tips, so will definitely play a bit longer considering it’s only a par 70.
I was fortunate to get a 7:30am tee time at the Fazio course. I arrived early to get some swings in on the driving range but later found out there is no driving range. This was a little disappointing, but I took the extra time I had planned in my morning to enjoy a breakfast sandwich from their grill. Since this course is part of the Palmetto Dunes property, I could have asked to go warm up at the driving range of either the RTJ or Arthur Hills course, but I figured I would give it a go with no warmups.
The par-70 George Fazio kicks off with a 430-yard par 4. A fairly easy starting hole, you have plenty of room to miss right off the tee and still have a decent angle to the green. Within the first few holes I was able to tell the name of the game here at the Fazio track was elevated greens. Luckily the greens were playing a little sandy and soft, so I was able to get my approach shots and chips to check up. But it didn’t take long for me to miss over the backside of a green and realize this was not the place to be. I would say 50-70% of the holes featured an elevated green with a very severe drop off the backside. Hole #5 was my favorite hole on the front 9. It played as a 389 yard par 4 and was the first real dogleg featured on the front 9. You can shorten the hole by taking your drive up the left side but be careful to not leave yourself behind a tree for your approach shot. The smart play is an iron/hybrid off the tee to the far-right side of the fairway. You’ll have a longer approach shot into the green, but a much better angle to work with. The green on hole #5 is one of the smallest on the course. It’s small and dangerous! A large bunker protects it in the front, so don’t try to roll your approach shot up to the front of the green. And like all greens at the Fazio course, don’t miss long as it will roll all the way down the backside of the green.
As I mentioned before, the 6,900 yard par-70 course plays long. You’ll find the back 9 begins with some shorter par 4s, but ones that require accuracy off the tee. The distance comes into play on the closing holes. Hole #15 is a 445 yard par 4. If you can clear the bunker with your drive on the right side, you might get a little extra roll. You’ll still have a lengthy approach into yet another elevated green with bunkers protecting it on the left and right. Hole #16, the signature hole at the Fazio course, is a long 425 yard par 4 that usually plays into the wind. Similar to #15, you’ll want to fly your drive over the fairway bunkers to gain some extra roll. The green on #16 is shared with the green on #11, so make sure to judge your distance to the correct pin! You’ll also want to make sure your miss is to the left, so the entire right side of the green is protected by water.
Even though hole #16 is considered the “signature hole,” I believe the par 3, hole #17 takes the cake for the most difficult and picturesque. What makes this hole so challenging is that your view from the tee box is only overgrown heather running along the lagoon and you must carry your blinded shot entirely over the lagoon onto a green that is 230 yards away. Once you cross the bridge over the lagoon, you really can take in the full beauty of the hole. I was so fortunate enough to play this hole the morning after the greenskeeper was dumped by his girlfriend. That’s right, they decided to make this 230 yard par 3 a 245 yard par 3 with the pin tucked in the back right. Just try to hit any part of the green and walk away with par on this monstrous blinded par 3!
As you can see, distance off the tee and accuracy on your approach shots is the name of the game on this challenging championship course. I rank this course more challenging than the RTJ course, but not quite as challenging as the Arthur Hills course, mainly because the greens at Arthur Hills played much firmer and faster. There are a handful of holes at Fazio that play through the lagoons of Hilton Head Island, and that’s what really makes this course beautiful and one you don’t want to miss out on. Be sure to reserve a tee time when you’re visiting Hilton Head Island!