In May the venue for the 2018 Ryder Cup in Europe will be announced, and among the contenders is the yet-to-be built Comporta Links course in Portugal, to be designed by Tom Fazio in collaboration with European Golf Design. What’s telling about recent announcements from Portugal, is not that Tom Fazio and his children have decided to stretch their business across the Atlantic, but that they need a back-end signature design business like EGD to help complete their new project.
For years Tom Fazio shunned overseas advances from a range of prospective golf clients, preferring instead to focus on what has been a lucrative domestic American market for him. Fazio is famously family-oriented, and he was able to avoid overseas travel away from his children because of the success of his design ‘brand’ at home. With his offspring now involved in the design business, and work drying up in the United States, Fazio has decided to branch overseas and start offering design services in foreign countries. We are aware of several prospects in China for Fazio, and there are sure to be many more coming his way if the Portuguese Ryder Cup bid is successful.
While partnering with European Golf Design makes sense from the perspective of the developer – after all EGD is part owned by the European Tour, who decide the venue for the 2018 matches – for Tom Fazio the partnership is surely an uncomfortable union. Fazio’s team haven’t needed back-end support in the past, and on this project it’s been suggested that the layout will actually be co-designed by EGD’s Ross McMurray. We can’t think of too many times in his career when Tom Fazio has had to cede some of his creative design work to a third-party associate.
The Portuguese project has an estimated budget of €25 million and is being privately funded by the famous Espírito Santo family. Tom Fazio’s son Logan is now president of Fazio Golf Course Designers, and Tom has stated that it was Logan’s enthusiasm for Comporta that encouraged him to commit to the project.
Says Fazio senior ‘We have a great piece of land here but that wasn’t the reason why we chose Comporta to build our first course in Europe. The number one factor is who you work for and the Espírito Santo family tick all the boxes. Right from the start, we’ve been impressed by the stability, the commitment, the dedication and the support of the Espírito Santo family. When Logan came back from his first visit he said, ‘Dad, that’s the group we want to work for.’
It will be interesting to see how the course turns out, and also to follow the global expansion of Tom Fazio’s Golf Design business – which we hope will continue to produce quality work and reflect the talents of its design principal, rather than perhaps any opportunistic offspring.