Golf course design runs through Tommy Fazio’s veins — he was born into a family in which several members are highly acclaimed golf architects (including his uncle, the original Tom Fazio). He has traveled the world working on projects, first for his father George, before starting his own firm, Tom Fazio II Designs. Fazio is known for his hands-on approach, and a willingness to get dirty and manage golf course design and construction (rather than planning and executing a course from a desk). Fazio has designed and constructed two Trump National courses in New York and New Jersey, Quail Valley Golf Club in Vero Beach, Fla., and finished redesigning the former Haig Course (now called the Fazio Course) at PGA National Resort & Spa.
What are your favorite cities?
My favorite city is Rome. I did a project there and I lived there almost a year and a half when I was 21. I built a golf course and I was working for my dad (Jim Fazio) at the time, for a fashion designer around her castle. She had a daughter and we formed a brother-sister relationship over the years. So, when I go to Rome, I get to stay at her castle and I play golf and we go into the city. It is just such a unique, wonderful scenario and I love the people, love the food. So that’s probably, bar none, my favorite place to visit, although I don’t get there enough.
What are your favorite restaurants?
Bar none, Peter Luger. I’ll eat steak, French fries and salad. I wont eat any other kind of vegetables. I eat lettuce and dressing. I’m just such a plain eater. For a potential job in Korea, I insisted I would not do it. And they kept calling me and I said no. And finally, I said I’ll consider it but I’m telling you I’m not eating any of your food, I’m not going to dinner with you, I don’t want you insulted. So I take my wife over there and these people have just been the most gracious, nicest, wonderful people, just jumped through hoops, falling over backwards to get me my certain food. My wife says, “You are the most ridiculous person. You are so spoiled.” But that was my deal, I can’t eat it. It’s so bad.
What do you bring home from your travels?
I always try to bring something home for the kids. Any kind of little trinket. I’m actually a big shopper. I do almost 90 percent of all of our shopping for my house. And I always bring my wife home clothes and stuff like that. I don’t really collect anything because it’s always the kids.
What is the best trip you’ve ever taken?
I went to Sardinia and Monaco, and just fell in love with Sardinia. It’s probably one of my favorite places on earth. I actually have a project that a client is trying to get done in Sardinia and I hope he gets it through. It would be a one- or two-year project and the kids will learn Italian. I love the water. I can’t live without it. I live 500 feet from the ocean and I love the beach. That’s my deal. In Sardinia, the water is just amazing. I’ve been to Hawaii and that’s beautiful, but Sardinia is just mountain cliffs into the bluest, clearest water.
What are the best things to do in Jupiter Island, Florida?
Bar none, paddle boarding. We have some of the bluest water on the coast. It almost rivals the Florida Keys, it’s just so crystal blue. In the winter, you can loose count of the manatees. Standing up on the boards, more so than in a kayak, the view is so good. You can see dolphins swimming in the inlet and stuff like that. They started building these restaurants that people paddle board to now, and so you’ll launch your board and just paddle up and go to eat. I get my sun. I get exercise. I get food. It’s heaven.
What are your favorite golf courses in Jupiter Island?
I have adopted this golf course called Tequesta Country Club. About five years ago, I started talking to some of the people there and I actually offered to do some work for them for free. Over the last five years, I have been so involved in this golf course that we have literally changed almost everything — all new tees, new bunkers and greens. We’ve turned the golf course to a golf course that Ernie Els plays often. So I play most of my golf there because it’s a mile from my house. A golf course I did in Vero Beach called Quail Valley is probably one of my favorites — it’s just so atypical for south Florida. South Florida is just dead flat so a typical golf course is, too. At Quail Valley I moved three million yards of dirt, so it was more than anybody’s ever moved, probably more than anybody will ever move on one 18-hole project. I basically almost made it look like North Carolina and did that solely for the purpose of wanting it to be different.
What are your favorite restaurants in Jupiter Island?
One is wonderful and it’s in the neatest place. It’s called Guanabanas. There is no structure anywhere on this property — every single thing, every table is under a tiki hut and it is all on the water. You can paddle board to it. People go in bathing suits, they go in formal dining outfits. It’s absolutely wonderful. The coolest bar ever is called the Square Grouper. This is another place where there’s no structure. It’s all outdoors.
Photos Courtesy of Quail Valley Golf Club and Tom Fazio II