How It All Began

Designing golf courses has been a passion of mine since I was in grade school while doodling golf holes on paper when I should have been studying for a math test.

As a touring professional for 12 years, I had an opportunity to play some of the greatest courses in the world which inspired me to someday put my efforts into designing and building courses.

When I left the tour I had an opportunity to own my own course. I had great fortune in having Tom Fazio and his design associate Mike Strantz design Golden Eagle Golf Club in Tallahassee for me. That was my first step in partaking in designing and building. Well, excuse the pun but I was “hooked.”

Mike Strantz (left) and Forrest Fezler

A new love for me in golf grew and eventually Mike Strantz and I became partners in designing and building some of the greatest most respected courses in the country. Mike Strantz was selected as one of the top 10 architects of all time along with the likes of Donald Ross, Alister Mackenzie, Tillinghast and his passion for designing manifested in me as well. Unfortunately, Mike became ill and passed away after completing his greatest course of all at Monterey Peninsula Shore Course in Pebble Beach California.

The world of golf truly misses Mike. I miss and think of him every day. He put his heart and soul into every course he designed. His passion of his love for design shines through on each hole. A gift from God that only a hand full of architects ever had.

What Mike taught me was never be afraid to be different. Well, I was the first and only player to ever wear shorts in the US Open in 1983 and sport a beard in the 70’s when it was considered a no-no but not forbidden, or wear brighter clothes than the flamboyant Doug Sanders. So I guess I was not afraid to be different.

I was taught not to do something another designer would do. Be innovative. Think out of the box. Never, ever, ever be redundant. Create something new and different on each and every hole. Never duplicate anything that you have done in the past. Golf will become boring if you do not have a new surprise and challenge on each and every hole.