Design Notes

South Carolina’s Belfair gets the Tom Fazio treatment

Mike Davis makes his design debut at Florida’s Apogee; Kevin Atkinson puts a new coat of paint on Colorado’s Red Rocks

The West Course at Belfair, a private community in Bluffton, South Carolina, five miles from Hilton Head, recently reopened following a $5.8 million, five-month golf course renovation.

The project, which began in mid-May, included a new irrigation system, regrassing of greens, bunker renovations, as well as other projects to improve the award-winning course’s playability and aesthetics.

Fazio Design led the renovation project of the original Tom Fazio-designed West Course, which first opened for play in 1996. Leibold Irrigation executed the construction work.

Belfair — West Course, Hole No. 12

Renovation work included the installation of a new pump station and a new Rain Bird irrigation system. Thirteen greens were restored to their original size, five greens were enlarged to allow for more pin placement locations and all greens were regrassed with hybrid ultra-dwarf TifEagle Bermudagrass.

All 63 bunkers were redesigned and reshaped for playability and visual appeal. Fabric bunker liners, sand and drainage were removed and replaced with a new polymer-based Capillary Concrete liner system. This new technically advanced lining method increased the speed at which water flows through the bunker, minimizing washouts, reducing maintenance and producing superior playability. New G-Angle bunker sand is now in all bunkers.

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Tee boxes were also expanded across the course and new forward tees were added on all 18 holes — totaling 3,800-4,000 yards — so that all ages and skill levels can enjoy the game. The renovation project also included extensive tree trimming for improved tree and turf health as well as better sight lines.

Belfair’s West Course Short Game Area was also enhanced and expanded during the renovation, as trees were cleared and a new short game green, fairway and bunker were added.

“Tom Fazio took a beautiful canvas and created a Lowcountry masterpiece,” said Chris Cento, president of Belfair. “With the help of the Fazio Design team and our partners at Troon, the West Course has been renovated, refined and is ready for the future."


In 2021, Mike Davis stepped away from his role as CEO of the USGA after a 32-year-career. His stated intention was to pursue golf course architecture, a childhood dream. In 2022, that dream is being realized.

Davis teamed with architect Tom Fazio II and the team’s first project is underway, following the recent groundbreaking on the Apogee Club in Hobe Sound, Florida. Three championship 18-hole layouts are on tap — one by Gil Hanse, another by Kyle Phillips and the third by Fazio and Davis Golf Design. Set on 1,200 acres amid pine trees, live oaks and sandy terrain, the facility will also include two short courses, a vast, nearly 360-degree practice range and cottages.

Sebonack Golf Club founder Mike Pascucci and Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross are investors in the project and it was those two that conceived the name Apogee Club, which means the "pinnacle." Hanse’s course is expected to open first, by the end of 2023. Fazio and Davis will begin their course after that, and will look to open at the end of 2024. The Kyle Phillips creation will emerge by the end of 2025.

Aptly named Red Rocks Country Club, located in the southwest suburbs of Denver, Colorado, has reopened following a renovation by Kevin Atkinson.

Working with Landscapes Unlimited, Atkinson refurbished tees, bunkers and greens with the intent of injecting added variety. New grasses, improved irrigation and cart paths and a new 45,000-square-foot putting green are all part of the revamped golf course and facility.

Atkinson first did renovation work at Red Rocks with his firm Phelps-Atkinson in 2006. This time around, the biggest design change occurred at the sixth hole, where the par-3 was shortened. The hole is equipped with a horizon green on the edge of a canyon, providing for an exciting shot, as well as compelling long views of the Denver skyline and the snow-capped Rockies.