Jack Nicklaus vs. Pete Dye vs. Tom Fazio; Who's your favorite? Whose courses do you avoid?
We recently published my review of the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club at Dove Mountain in Marana, Ariz on TravelGolf.com. The week after I returned from Arizona, I mentioned to one of my colleagues that I played the course. His scornful comments of Jack Nicklaus’ design took me by surprise, especially considering he hadn’t played at Dove Mountain.
Golf course designers ? at least the popular ones ? are kind of like sports teams. Nicklaus, Tom Fazio and Pete Dye are like the Yankees or the Red Sox. Most golfers, it seems, have their favorites and some that they loathe, and others they are sort of neutral on.
Some people judge designers without playing many of their respective courses. In many cases, tour players’ comments resonate loudly with the golfing public, and all three of these designers have been targeted on occasion.
Is this golf course architect bigotry? Many think that all Nicklaus courses are based on Nicklaus’ game during his glory years. Lots of dogleg-rights, fade approaches, tricky greens. Dye’s reputation is that he makes courses way too hard. Too many pot bunkers, for one, and in the earlier years, too many railroad ties. Non-Fazio fans think he goes overboard with the number of bunkers on his course, especially in the fairways, and the bunkers are too gargantuan.
I liked the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, at least the two nines I got to play ? the Burro and Tortolita layouts ? despite criticism from the tour players during February’s WGC Accenture Match Play. There was plenty of room to hit it off the tee, so I had fun. But I have to admit, I like most of the Nicklaus courses I’ve played.
I’d love to get your thoughts. Who is your favorite, least favorite designers and why? Besides the three I mentioned above (plus maybe Rees Jones and Greg Norman), there are lots of other guys who don’t seem to be such a lightning rod. Architects like Tom Doak, Ted Robinson, Tom Weiskopf, Scott Miller, Ken Dye, Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore are just a few who come to mind. How about Arthur Hills, Keith Foster and Robert Trent Jones Jr.?
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