50 Words or Less
The Firestone Country Club Fazio Course is the friendlier counterpart to the Tour-tough South Course. Wide fairways and large greens. Not an easy course, but a place where you can make some birdies.
Mike Keiser, the founder of Bandon Dunes, famously said of golf courses that “one plus one equals three” meaning that two great courses create a true destination. But what do we call a place with three distinct golf courses? You call it Firestone Country Club.
The practice facilities at Firestone Country Club are excellent. In one contiguous area, you’ll find a large putting green, enormous driving range, and a short game area. The putting green is large enough to accommodate numerous golfers and to practice your lag putting. The driving range has a large swath of artificial turf as well as grass hitting areas. There are five target greens to keep your warm up focused.
The first tee of the Fazio Course is a few steps from the left edge of the driving range, so you’re able to stay loose right up to your tee time.
Finally, Firestone has a nine-hole putting course that’s illuminated at night. Unlike the putting courses at other destinations, this one is actually a wonderful way to prepare for the round. Of course, it’s also a great place to simply hang out in the evening with a beverage.
Customer Service & Amenities
Firestone’s long, storied history is one of the things that separates it from other destinations. What brings that history to life are the many employees who have been at Firestone for multiple decades. Whether it’s your bartender or your caddy, it’s easy to find someone who will share priceless stories.
Whether they’ve been at Firestone for thirty years or thirty minutes, the staff is uniformly committed to making the guest experience great. Everyone we encountered on our visit was friendly, outgoing, and willing to go out of their way to meet our needs. I also want to strongly recommend taking a caddy, specifically Terry, Chris, or Quin, who were essential to our rounds.
On a less warm but still important note, the carts at Firestone have some of the best GPS systems I’ve encountered. The color touchscreens show a flyover of the hole as you pull up, then a satellite view. As you approach the green, a Golf Logix green map appears, something I’ve never seen before. If you’re playing without a caddy, this will save you strokes.
You may have assumed that Firestone Country Club was available only to members, but their courses are open to anyone through Stay & Play packages. There are two options for lodging: the Villas and the Club Rooms.
The Villas are located around the property, often with stellar views of the course. Each Villa contains several individual rooms and a common room upstairs (above). The common rooms have a TV, pool table, poker table, as well as a kitchen. Firestone will even cater private meals to your group in your common room. Additionally, the common rooms open to large, elevated decks. The Villas are perfect for groups that want a private place to hang out pre and post round.
As good as the Villas are, my preference is for the Club Rooms. These rooms are located on the second story of the clubhouse, inside the men’s locker room. This gives you unlimited access to the fitness center and the locker room bar. Spending the night in the Firestone locker room makes you feel like a kid locked inside a toy store, especially with the limited number of rooms. The vibes you get hanging out with other golf junkies in the locker room bar are simply exquisite.
No matter which option you choose, Firestone’s staff goes all-out to make your stay comfortable and memorable. They offer shuttles to the airport and can arrange any additional activity you may want, such as a trip to the Football Hall of Fame in nearby Canton. They’re also opening a Big Shot Golf at the Firestone Nine (their public course) so you can swing, eat, and drink late into the night.
The food at Firestone is outstanding, among the best I’ve had at any golf destination. With three distinct dining locations, it’s reasonable to argue that there’s even more variety in the food than there is in the golf.
On the clubhouse’s second story, you’ll find the 55th Hole Bar. As the name suggests, this is a great place to relax post-round. Among its best features are the rocking chairs on the balcony that let you watch golfers come up the 9th hole of the South Course.
You’re likely to eat the majority of your meals at the 1929 Grille and Legacy Pavillion. This indoor/outdoor restaurant has staples like club sandwiches and hamburgers, but they also have more unusual options like a meatball loaf parmesan sandwich. I give that sandwich high marks, but you should save it for post-round.
Also, there’s the new dinner option – La Vetta Italian Chophouse. The meal we ate there was truly exceptional. Everything we had was memorable, but the show stopper was Firestone’s signature Crunchy Cream Pie. Jack Nicklaus loves these so much that he has sent his private jet to pick them up. After eating one, you’ll understand why.
Finally, I have to give a quick mention to the 7/12 Grille and their burgerdogs. These were brought over from The Olympic Club by Firestone’s GM, Jay Walkinshaw, and they are great. The 7/12 Grille is available to both the South and Fazio courses, and you should definitely take advantage of it for a mid-round pit stop.
Beauty & Scenery
The Firestone Fazio Course gives you views of almost the entire property. The first nine wrap around the South Course, and the second nine takes you further west to enjoy elevated views, including the highest point in the county (below).
Compared to the North and South, the Fazio course is very light on trees, providing more long, open views. Water appears on only one hole, leaving your eye to focus on the ample changes in elevation.
If you found the South Course [review HERE] too claustrophobic off the tee, the Fazio Course is the antidote. This track features wide, inviting fairways. Add in that there are very few trees, and your driver will be itching to bomb away.
We played the Fazio Course first, when most of us were just a couple hours removed from plane rides, and it was the perfect choice. Outside of missing the ball entirely, you can’t cause too many problems for yourself off the tee.
The Fazio Course doesn’t appear to be a monster, tipping out at 6,904 yards, but it is only par 70. The blue tees at 6,469 are a solid test for players with above average length. Players of average length – or longer players looking to make a few birdies – will enjoy the Hybrid tees at 6,095 yards or the White tees at 5,874.
The Firestone Country Club Fazio Course has medium length and thickness rough that’s akin to the North Course [review HERE]. There’s enough to create different lies and the occasional flier, but it won’t swallow your ball or prevent a shot to the green.
Similarly, the undulations in the fairway are moderate. You may find the ball slightly above or below your feet on occasion, but straight drives are typically rewarded with premium lies. The rolling fairways also mean that if you land a drive in the fairway, it’s likely to stay there.
One of the recent renovations to the Fazio Course saw forty bunkers removed. This brought the total square footage of sand down from 125,000 to 67,000. I came away with the feeling that the course was dotted with bunkers not covered in sand. This relative scarcity makes the remaining bunkers more visually impactful, so be careful to not to let the traps steer your approach shots too dramatically.
The greens at the Fazio Course are larger than average and definitely the largest of the three courses at Firestone. There are some tiers and ridges, but nothing so severe that you’d rather be off the green than on the wrong part of it. Focus on not short siding yourself and enjoy inflating your GIR stats a bit.
Greens & Surrounds
The large greens at the Firestone Country Club Fazio Course are great for your ball striking stats, but they can be hard on your putting stats. Though there aren’t any rollercoaster breaks or dramatic tiers, there are plenty of spots from which you’ll be thrilled to two-putt. The one thing to be very careful about are the false fronts, runs offs, and thumbprints. There are some nasty pin placements that make it possible to putt off the green.
Around the green, the Fazio Course offers a great variety of situations. There are bunkers on every hole, making sand a constant concern. Depending on your short game, however, the sand might be preferred. On any given hole, you might find more tightly mowed areas or more rough. You may think that the tightly mowed areas are better…until your ball rolls to the bottom of a collection area. The large greens put less pressure on your short game, but you need to be clever with a wedge to get the ball close.
#12 – Par 3 – 170 Yards
This is the most challenging of the par 3s on the Fazio Course. You’ll have a mid or short iron in hand, but the margin for error is much smaller than you realize from the tee. There’s a bunker to the right that will make you favor the left side. Unfortunately, the left side of the green has a deep thumbprint that will leave you with a very testing putt. Your only hope for an easy par is a generous pin placement on the front of the green.
#4 – Par 4 – 324 Yards
After dealing with three of the tougher holes on the course, you get a borderline drivable par 4. The green is elevated and a bunker blocks most attempts to run the ball up. Laying up may seem like a wise play, but the green is so narrow from front to back that your approach shot needs to have very precise distance control.
The Firestone Country Club Fazio Course adds a third worthy contender to the discussion about your favorite course on the property. Its wide fairways and large greens make for an enjoyable round, but the greens offer enough challenge to keep it interesting.