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Belterra Casino to open golf course in July

Architect Fazio visits site,
says laying sod will speed opening

Ben Fronczek
Staff Writer

(June 2001) Florence, In – If there is such a saying as “sod over seed” then it definitely rings true in the scheduled July 3 opening of Belterra Casino Resort’s new 18-hole golf course.

Tom Fazio

Tom Fazio

The Tom Fazio-designed layout was originally scheduled to open in September. But faced with a long wait for the grass seeds to grow, officials decided to put down 70 acres of sod over the 240-acre course so they could move up the opening date by two months.
“It was an issue of only eight holes left,” said Belterra golf pro Jim Newton. “We could either seed and open in September or sod and open up in July. We chose to do a considerable sodding process.”
Fazio, 56, visited his nearly completed course on May 17. “It’s just incredible what sod will do,” he said overlooking the course which required moving 1.2 million cubic yards of dirt to create.
Fazio started out with a palette of extremely flat land and has ended up with a layout that features a 65-foot elevation from the highest to lowest point. He has successfully designed the banks, ridges and fairways to resemble the natural horizon. Fazio admitted, though, that this was not the premise for designing the course.
“The first issue was that we wanted to feature the marquee home,” he said, referring to the casino’s 15-story hotel that directly overlooks the 18th hole. “Most of the time when you construct a course, you want to hide buildings. But the presence of this particular building is really the reason for this golf course.”
Workers also planted 2,300 trees on the course to complement the rolling hills. Two trees from the original terrain sit on the par-3 second hole.
Fazio has designed golf courses across the country and has more than 120 to his credit since 1972.
“The goal is always to create a different course and never build the same hole twice,” he said at a May press conference.
He emphasized that distinctiveness does not compensate for quality. “If you can’t expect a tour player to like it, you can’t expect anyone else to like it. But I believe even the beginning golfer will find this course fun and exciting without walking away frustrated.”
Fazio said he did not try to create a signature hole, as do many architects. “In my opinion they all have to be signature holes. Defining one is like saying one is better than all the rest.”
A Philadelphia native, Fazio resides and operates his nationally known design firm out of North Carolina. He started his design career in the 1960s with the assistance and encouragement of his uncle, touring professional George Fazio. Since then, some of his creations have included Shadow Creek in Las Vegas and the Black Diamond in Lecanto, Fla.
He has been voted three times as “Best Modern Day Golf Architect” in a Golf Digest Poll. His son, Logan, 24, is beginning to follow in his footsteps and has been designing courses out of Dallas.
“One of the most important things when you are creating a golf course is to create an environmental setting that is memorable,” said Fazio.

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