For award-winning architect, Caves Valley was blank canvas


January 19, 1992|By JOHN STEWART

For all the positives that come with success, regardless of the endeavor. there is always, seemingly, at least one negative, although golf course architect Tom Fazio views it as more of a challenge.

Fazio recently was selected the nation's top architect as the result of the third annual Golf Course News survey of 250 of the leading architects in the country. The publication, a monthly tabloid published in Yarmouth Maine, is primarily for architects, course superintendents and developers.

The honor, which gives Fazio a three-year sweep of the award, was, obviously, well-received at his firm's headquarters in Jupiter, Fla.

"It always a nice honor to be recognized, especially by your peers, but it also makes me look to the future rather than the past," Fazio said during a telephone conversation.

"As with any other award, whether it's in golf or the Super Bowl, or whatever, having won something once, you'd like to repeat. However, it's tough competition and I know I'll have to work harder to do it." Which is the way he has worked all his life, anyway.

In accepting the award, Fazio had said, 'The courses I did this year are the best I've ever done," strong words from a man whose work includes three of Golf Digest's best new private courses in the past four years. and eight in the magazine's top 100 best American courses.

Among his 1991 openings was Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills.

"Caves Valley was one of the great golf experiences of my life," Fazio continued. 'They had 900 pristine acres, and wanted to build one of the world's great golf courses.

"In showing me the property, they simply said, 'Here it is.' I started from scratch and, in effect, had no restrictions. As a designer, there was nothing more, realistically, I could have asked for.

"Part of that experience are the amenities that go with the golf course. They are what make it so special. Right from the first meeting, I was so charged up about the project, I could hardly wait."

There was a pause, and then he added: "Actually, every year is a wonderful year, and it's been that way for a long time. Right now, I'm looking at some openings for 1992."

Included is one called Cascades at Low's Island. "It's right on the Potomac, near Great Falls [Va.], and will be part of a development with some great views."

Obviously, every course requires an architect and a superintendent - one to design and one to maintain - and architects, along with course builders, have to be numbered among the scariest professions as far as a lifetime career. Word of bad design and/or bad building spreads rapidly.

As for the superintendents, what other job asks you to: Depend on the weather for your livelihood: hang your work out in plain sight 24 hours a day, 365 days a year (OK, 366 this year) and give you hundreds of members who know more about your profession than you do?

Reading material: Along with the professional tours preparing for new seasons and the accompanying television coverage, comes a new book for armchair enthusiasts. The "Viewers Guide to Professional Golf," provides 18-hole scale diagrams of the courses for all the nationally televised tournaments, along with pertinent information about each event, and a dozen articles relating to the history of the game.

The brainchild of Whitney McClelland, a Ponte Vedra, Fla., attorney and venture capital investor, the 96-page (8 1/2xl1), spiral-bound book provides graphics and research done to the most exacting standards. For those viewers who like to put themselves at the scene of the action, this book should add immeasurable interest to the telecasts. How-to-get information is available from (800) 447-7000.

The United States Golf Association has issued a brochure, "Uncle Snoopy Wants YOU to Know How to Use Your Handicap," with illustrations by cartoonist Charles Schulz, and written by ABC-TV commentator and golf historian Rhonda Glenn, in cooperation with USGA treasurer Judy Bell.

The booklet answers a variety of questions, including those about the "slope" system, and provides convenient handicap tables. Free copies are available by sending a self-addressed stamped business envelope to the USGA Handicap Department, Golf House, P.O. Box 708, Far Hills, N.J. 07931-0708.

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