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,
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:
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.
Per Travis East, the head pro at Stonebriar, you need to "keep the ball in the fairway" to master this Fazio design.
Initiation Fees: $25,001 to $40,000
Monthly Dues: $601 to $800
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.
Here's How Texas Outside Determines the Scorecard Rating
The Texas Outside rating scale ranges from 1 to 10 – a perfect 10 course would be something like this: links along a cliff overlooking the Pacific ocean and bordered by tall trees; lush fairways on rolling hills with lots of natural hazards; water (which is crystal clear) on most of the holes; immaculate greens (but they are undulating and tough); lots of variety and character (each hole is completely different and includes blind shots, elevation changes, doglegs, and significant challenges); perfectly manicured traps with the whitest and prettiest sand you’ve ever seen; a nice club house with great food and a 19th hole; a GPS; plenty of beverage carts or your own cooler and ice; and it only costs $40 bucks! What this means is that you probably won’t find any 10s in Texas – try Cabo San Lucas, Pebble Beach, or some of the Hawaii courses!
All of the above determines the overall score for the golf course. In other words, we like courses that are pretty, fun, very challenging with a lot of variety, and fairways and greens in excellent condition – all for $40. We also tend to play the courses that are affordable for the masses, which means in the $30 to $80 range. We rate hard and we haven’t found a 10 in Texas yet – don’t worry we haven’t given up and we’re still looking.