El Paso next for Fazio design

By David R. Holland, Contributor

It wasn't very long ago that Tom Fazio designs were somewhat scarce in Texas -- in Austin, Barton Creek's Fazio Foothills was the showcase to see.

But Fazio has been busy -- Fazio Canyons came next to Barton Creek, then Vaquero north of Dallas and the award-winning Dallas National. Escondido, a Hill Country Course on Lake LBJ, has announced an October 2005 opening.

All these layouts were pricey and upscale so El Paso's recent announcement that Fazio is planning a public-access course called The Dunes at Butterfield Trail came as a pleasant surprise to this burgeoning city known for its Tex-Mex culture and rugged desert landscapes.

Scheduled to be built on an 180-acre site near the Butterfield Industrial Complex next to El Paso International Airport, the project will be financed and owned by the airport, hoping to bring more tourists to this far West Texas city by 2006 along with a big-name hotel. El Paso's Painted Dunes, a 27-hole municipal complex, has long been known as one of Texas' best city-owned layouts.

Early projections for The Dunes at Butterfield Trail call for a desert layout through native sand dunes with no trees, but with native flora and fauna. A large irrigation lake is planned on the south side of the property, next to the projected hotel. And the 7,300-yard routing will have manmade elevation changes of 30 feet or more.

Airport officials also say it will be affordable with a green fee of $35 to $45.

Next door desert golf

Albuquerque's Sandia Pueblo is putting the final touches to its new Scott Miller-designed golf course, which has set a tentative opening date as June 2005. The $80 million project will also include a 228-room independent hotel close to its gaming operations.

The project almost never got off the ground. The Sandia Pueblo's governing council tabled the idea back in 2000 because of water concerns in drought-stricken New Mexico. But they voted again -- this time the measure passed by only one vote.

The new golf complex has plenty of competition in a state known for affordable golf. Just a few miles north the Santa Ana Pueblo already has the 350-room Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and the 18-hole Twin Warriors golf course, near Bernalillo. Santa Ana's resort opened in January 2001 and is located next to another 27-hole golf complex named Santa Ana.

Another Texan emerges

Amarillo-born Ryan Palmer had the thrill of his rookie season when he met Arnold Palmer, but that highlight was eclipsed when he won the Funai Classic at Disney World with a comeback victory for the 28-year-old who lives in Grapevine.

Palmer, a Texas A&M grad, registered five birdies on his first six holes on Sunday to get into contention. Then he made four straight birdies down the stretch for a 10-under 62 and a three-shot victory over Vijay Singh and Briny Baird. Palmer's 62 on the final day gave him a gaudy 22-under 266.

This and that

Sad new for public-access golfers in Houston that The Tournament Players Course at The Woodlands, long the home for the Shell Houston Open, will go private. The Woodlands has two other private layouts -- Palmer and Player courses, but resort guests can still play the Oaks and Panther Trail Courses. The Clubhouse at the TPC is set for a new name, remodeling and reconstruction.

Houston's Oakhurst Golf Club, formerly named Bentwood Country Club, when it opened in 1994, has experienced a $1.7 million remodel and the old clubhouse was torn down and completely rebuilt. The original layout measured 7,002 yards and was designed by Dave Marr and Jay Riviere. Log on to oakhurstgolf.com for more information.

Lubbock's Elm Grove Golf Course, 3202 Milwaukee Avenue, started renovations in April that includes new cart paths, a new line of Club Car golf carts, improved fairways and putting green.

Fort Worth's Colonial Country Club has opened a new display called the Ben Hogan Office, a re-creation of Hogan's business office on Pafford Street. The new display is in a corner of Colonial's golf shop. The office includes Hogan's desk, coffee mug, cup full of pens, and a desk nameplate that reads "Henny Bogan."

Waco's Ridgewood Country Club, designed by Ralph Plummer, reopened its remodeled front nine recently, with the back nine to be unveiled on Dec. 1.

Whitestone Golf Club in Benbrook has a new 12-hole putting course named The Texas Dozen. When the project is finished it will also include four sand bunkers.

David R. HollandDavid R. Holland, Contributor

David R. Holland is an award-winning former sportswriter for The Dallas Morning News, football magazine publisher, and author of The Colorado Golf Bible. Before launching a career as a travel/golf writer, he achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force reserve, serving during the Vietnam and Desert Storm eras. Follow Dave on Twitter @David_R_Holland.

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