Tom Fazio, who is consistently recognized as one of the best golf course designers, created his first North Texas masterpiece in 2000 at Stonebriar Country Club in Frisco. During construction, Fazio moved over 325 tons of boulders and 6000 yards of dirt and planted 2500 trees and landscaping to create dramatic landforms, subtly contoured greens, 115 acres of intermediate rough and native grasses, a variety of water hazards, and masterful bunkering in a beautifully landscaped environment. The design makes it feel like you’re playing in the country and not in the heart of Frisco.
The Fazio Course at Stonebriar Country Club is a partnership between Westin Hotels and Resorts and Club Corp, who has a stable of excellent courses and a reputation for great conditions and superb service. Club Corp has done an excellent job of meticulously maintaining all 18 holes and the transition and common areas. To play this great track you need to be a guest at the Westin Stonebriar, it’s sister hotel the Sheraton Stonebriar, a Club Corp member, or a Stonebriar Country Club member.
Lake most Fazio designs, at Stonebriar Country Club Tom designed the fairways to be tight but fair and added his signature bunkers – 62 steep and deep sand traps of all shapes and sizes. During your round you’ll also encounter rolling and sloping fairways a few of which have a bowl shape (taking the ball toward the middle of the fairway) and others that slope toward trouble, a couple good risk reward opportunities, dog legs, and some very fun holes. Fazio also favors large undulating greens that you don’t want to miss or you’re wet, in a collection area, trapped in a steep bunker, down in a grassy swale, or lost in the natural area – any one of which creates some challenging recovery shots.
The front nine at Stonebriar Country Club is fairly straightforward and traditional with water that can come into play on four holes, fairways framed by trees and natural areas with some huge beautiful homes set back on one side, strategically placed treacherous bunkers, well guarded greens, four dog legs, and some interesting holes. For example,
#1 is a short 366 yard slightly down hill par 4 with a landing area that is pinched by a ridge and fairway bunker and a challenging approach shot to a 20 by 48 yard green with 4 bunkers, natural areas, and a stream on the right
#2, a 408 yard par 4 with a carry over the wetland, will temp you to try to cut the corner but you’ve got to fly the trees and natural area and avoid the huge fairway bunker – not sure it’s worth the risk
#8 is a scenic par 3 with a carry over the lake and a huge greenside bunker guarding the front
The back nine is fantastic with some very fun and memorable holes. The back is more scenic and seems to be a little harder thanks to water on four holes, several dog legs, a couple great risk reward opportunities, some huge strategically placed bunkers, tight fairways that you don’t want to miss, and some guarded greens.
On this nine you’ll need accuracy off the tee box and some precision shots to the green to score well. Don’t let all that scare you – it’s a very playable and fair nine with some great holes, like:
#11 is a 412 yard par four that horseshoes around a lake offering a great, but very risky shot, to try and fly more of the lake and avoid a huge bunker to shorten the hole – don’t miss
#14 plays back along the same lake with an elevated tee shot to a sloping fairway (toward the lake) leading to a two tiered sloping green (rolls off on all sides) near the lake’s edge – beware you can’t see where the lake pinches the fairway near the green
#17 requires a decision and accuracy off the tee box – a big bunker splits the fairway where long or conservative hitters may want to go right and short hitters take the left side which then has a challenging carry over the lake and two greenside bunker to a 28 by 41 yard oblong green
We played the Fazio at Stonebriar Country Club in September 2011 when all of Texas had suffered through a horrible winter with multiple freezes and snow followed by a severe drought and a record heat spell – all of which took a significant toll on every Texas golf course. Stonebriar was no exception – the fairways were not in their typical lush and plush condition that you would normally find and the greens had some damage. Thanks to a lack of rain and hot temperatures the fairways had some light brown spots and were firm – the good news was that you got some extra roll. The rough and natural areas were well maintained and the rough was playable. The fairways are tight and to score well you can’t afford to miss them or you’re mostly likely wet or in the natural areas.
The bent grass greens had also suffered from the extreme weather but were still in very good condition. There was some damage around the fringes. They had been recently aerated and as such were sandy and bumpy and not running at the normal speed. We talked to a couple golfers who told us they are normally excellent, roll very smooth and true, and hold the ball well. Most of the greens are large and all of them have some combination of slope, undulation, or tiers – pin placement can be a killer. You’ll also need precision on your approach shots to manage the false fronts, bunkers, natural areas, swales, or water.
Like most Fazio designs, you’ll need to avoid his steep and deep bunkers, some of which require a ladder to get out of! They range in size and shape from small pot bunkers to some huge monsters. The sand was excellent – soft, thick, and fluffy – I know, I took a lot of it home with me.
Bottom line – a great course that if you can keep it in the fairway and think your way around 18 holes you’ll have a great score and a memorable round.
The Westin Stonebriar is an excellent resort with a good stay and play package – in 2011 for $59 you got a round of golf, cart, unlimited range balls, and rental clubs after 2:00 PM. Read our review of the Westin Stonebriar to learn more about why we like the Westin.
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There is a great 10,000 square feet practice area with a range, putting and chipping green. Service is excellent and the pro shop is very well stocked. On 11, you can get grilled hot dog and drinks.
Per Travis East, the head pro at Stonebriar, you need to "keep the ball in the fairway" to master this Fazio design.
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