It was a week of typical fall weather in Montgomery County. The type of weather that brings visitors from all over the world to the area. October. The leaves were changing colors. There was a nip in the morning air. Beautiful, dry sunshine marked the middle of the day. In other words, it was the perfect time for a family visit to the area.

Tom Fazio headshot

Tom Fazio, the world-renowned golf course architect, who was born in Norristown and spent his high school years in Lansdale, liked the idea.


So he gathered sons, Gavin and Austin, and they headed north for a most nostalgic trip to Pennsylvania.


Gavin now runs Fazio’s design firm office in Jupiter, Florida. Austin runs the operation in Hendersonville, North Carolina – where Tom also lives during the summer months.


Travel is not new to Fazio. He has jetted back and forth across the country ever since he started working for his famous uncle, George Fazio, in the golf course design business. That was in the mid-’60s, shortly after George became the first PGA Tour player to successfully cross over into golf course architecture.

Tom then went on to eclipse his uncle in the world of golf course design, eventually becoming recognized as the greatest golf course architect in the world. He currently has more than twice as many courses recognized on Golf Digest’s list of Top 200 Courses in America as any other golf course architect.


In short, Tom Fazio reached the heights of his chosen profession. But he never forgot his roots. That’s why he took his two sons, who now stand on the brink of exalted status in the golf world, back to a bit of reality.


“I always want them to remember where I came from,” said Fazio. “A little bit of humility is a good thing.”


The fall visit to Montgomery County was an all-encompassing tour. The best way to recount it is in the words of the tour guide:

Times Herald Building

“I first took them past the site of the old Times Herald building. It was a bit of a shock to see that it had been demolished. I then took them down Main Street in Norristown, along my newspaper route. I also took them past the little row home on the East End of Norristown, where I grew up as a kid – 212 W. Spruce Street. Then we stopped at St. Patrick’s, where I went to grade school, and we went past Elmwood Park, where I played as a kid.”


The tour then took a swing to the business years, after Fazio graduated from Lansdale Catholic High School.


“I took them to Flourtown Country Club, the club my uncle bought and set up as his first office in 1964,” Fazio continued. “Then we visited Squires Golf Club – the first course I worked on with my uncle – and Waynesborough Country Club in Paoli – the first job I was in charge of.”


The trip also included a tour of Valley Forge Park and the King of Prussia Mall.


“I told them it was one of the first malls in America but now it is about ten times the original size,” Fazio explained.


However, before leaving Montgomery County, there was the obligatory stop for a cheesesteak.


“A few years ago, after shooting a segment for the Traveling Golfer television show, I went with the crew and some friends to Pudge’s on Fayette Street in Conshohocken,” Fazio recalled. “It has changed hands and is now Izenberg’s Deli. We went back there and the cheesesteak was still really good.”


To put a poignant exclamation point to the trip, the Fazios traveled across the river to New Jersey and heralded Pine Valley Golf Club. Fazio has been the official renovator of the world’s No. 1-ranked golf course for years, and a member.


“We went from the roots to the pinnacle,” said Fazio. “They have been to the course many times but I wanted them to see it in contrast to my beginnings. It’s important to know how you got there.”


The job of the tour guide was complete. Sons Gavin and Austin received a whirlwind education in Montgomery County history, courtesy of one of the people who always will have a large chapter in the county history books.


The Fazio saga – George, then Tom, and now the family – is one of America’s great success stories. It’s nice to know that they always remember where it all began.