by Bryan Darrow | April 01, 2006

PGA West in Palm Springs

Greg Norman’s PGA West in Palm Springs

Nicklaus. Norman. Palmer. Faldo. Most of us know the names of these great golfers, and while they might be years removed from making the A list of the game’s hotshots, their monikers are emblazoned forever on an increasing number of golf courses they’re designing for resorts around the world. While course architects who never made a splash as professional players i.e., Pete Dye and Tom Fazio still are in high demand, the player-architects seem to be grabbing more and more glory. Which gives rise to the question: Are player-built courses any better, worse or otherwise different from architect-built ones?
    Fazio himself allows that  his player-competitors’ products “are as good as any other golf course designer’s.”
    Nevertheless, “all top design teams have their own personality and forte,” according to Tim Schantz, executive vice president of business development at Troon Golf, which manages more than 150 courses around the world. For example, Schantz notes that Fazio is known for turning a very plain piece of land into an especially varied landscape. On the other hand, a spokesperson at Greg Norman Golf Course Design says Norman is at his best when the land can speak for itself, “making the golf more collaborative with the environment.”  
    Of course, much of the allure of a “name” comes down to marketing. As Schantz says, “Statistics show that attaching a name like Jack Nicklaus to a golf course will attract a certain demographic.”