Golf on Oahu: Playable George Fazio Course at Turtle Bay Resort remains a resort favorite

By Mike Bailey, Senior Staff Writer

KAHUKU, Hawaii -- Ocean views, wide fairways, good conditions and a golf course that's easy to navigate -- what's not to like about the original layout at Turtle Bay Resort, the George Fazio Course?

Fazio golf course at Turtle Bay Resort - No. 11
The par-3 11th on the George Fazio Course at Turtle Bay Resort is one of several holes that are near the ocean.
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George Fazio Course at Turtle Bay Resort

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The only George Fazio-designed golf course in Hawaii, the Fazio Course at Turtle Bay Resort, is popular with visitors and pros alike. The course features lengthy fairways, deep bunkers and sculpted greens. The Fazio is also home of the LPGA Tour's Hawaiian Open.

18 Holes | Public/Resort golf course | Par: 72 | 6628 yards | Book online | ... details »
 

Opened in 1972, Turtle Bay Resort's George Fazio Course has been somewhat overshadowed by its newer sibling, the more difficult Arnold Palmer Course. The Palmer Course is longer, has tighter corridors and a lot more water and bunkers. But for most players, it probably isn't as enjoyable. It also isn't as easy to walk. And in recent years, more and more players are starting to carry or pull their clubs on the Fazio Course.

"We encourage people to walk," said Matthew Hall, the director of golf at Turtle Bay Resort.

That's not something you hear every day from a resort golf course, but the Fazio Course, in particular, is player friendly -- both for resort guests and locals. Turtle Bay Resort now has huge twilight specials on the Fazio Course and alternates days on which nine holes players begin their rounds. The idea, Hall said, is that golfers can get in all 18 holes if they play twilights on consecutive days.

Turtle Bay's Fazio Course has a distinguished history too

The perception is that Turtle Bay Resort's Fazio Course is somewhat of a pushover, perfect for beginners and high handicappers. And while the golf course does have junior tees, over the years it has been used to test the best players.

For those of you who might be old to enough to remember the inaugural Senior Skins Game with Arnold Palmer, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Gary Player and Sam Snead, well, that was played on the Fazio Course. The Fazio Course has also played host to a Champions Tour event, U.S. Open qualifiers and, most recently, has been part of the rotation for the Turtle Bay Resort Hawaii Open.

The Fazio Course has also undergone some improvements in the past couple of years. For one, about 150 palm trees have been removed. It's not that noticeable, but Hall said it enables the maintenance crew to pay more attention to the rest of the golf course.

And speaking of the rest of the golf course, it's been changing. Much like the Palmer Course, Paspalum has been introduced. Many of the greens have already made the transition, as have tee boxes and fairways. Eventually, the plan is for the golf course to be all-Paspalum. The Palmer Course is very close to reaching that goal.

Paspalum grass is more tolerant of effluent water and better around salt water. It's also plush and gives the golf course an unmistakable bright green glow.

As for the holes on the Fazio Course, it has its share of good ones. The par-4 sixth is a long dogleg right that surrenders the first good view of the Pacific Ocean. The par-3 11th and 12th tee also afford good views of the ocean.

The finishing stretch is particularly interesting. The 14th hole, at 277 yards, is a drivable par 4. But miss it into the right rough, with bunkers guarding a potentially tight pin, and par becomes a problem. Two holes later, the par-4 16th plays more than 200 yards longer from the back tees at 482 yards. The 496-yard, par-5 17th is another opportunity for birdie.

George Fazio Course at Turtle Bay Resort: The verdict

Turtle Bay Resor's Fazio Course is fun golf, but you can't go to sleep on it. Let your guard down, especially when it's windy, and the potential for double bogey or worse is definitely there.

At the same time, it's a golf course anyone can play. With five sets of tees, including the aforementioned junior tees (the par-4 18th hole is just a little more than 200 yards from the first set of five tees), it's perfect for families with kids but will also challenge low handicap players at 6,634 yards.

"It's a good resort course," said Kevin Marsh of Horsley, Australia. "It's not too unforgiving, and it has lovely scenery."

As the Bermuda grass is transitioned into Paspalum, the look and playability of the Fazio Course is also escalating. In short, the Fazio Course complements the Palmer Course.

The Fazio Course also has excellent practice facilities, including a grass range, practice green, chipping green and practice bunker, which are all separate from the practice facilities of the Palmer Course.

The resort is also the site of Turtle Bay Golf Academy. The school offers group and individual lessons as well as fitness evaluations, playing lessons and golf clinics.

Stay and Play at Turtle Bay Resort

The North Shore of Oahu is one of the most scenic spots on the island. The North Shore is where the biggest waves are -- especially during the winter -- and the views from the Turtle Bay Resort are as good as you'll find. In fact, the ocean surrounds the resort on two sides, so most rooms provide ocean views.

Naturally, the resort offers a variety of stay-and-play packages. It features several restaurants, a spa, tennis facilities and a variety of other activities such as snorkeling, biking and hiking.

Mike BaileyMike Bailey, Senior Staff Writer

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in the Houston area. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 20 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @Accidentlgolfer.


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