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A Brief History of Deer Creek Golf Course

For the past several years, in early spring, elite golfers descend on the renowned Deer Creek golf course at The Landings Golf & Athletic Club with hopes of securing one of the 30 PGA TOUR cards up for grabs. This year’s Club Car Championship, a Korn Ferry Tour event, is the first event hosted in the United States. 

Of The Landings Golf & Athletic Club’s six championship golf courses, why Deer Creek? In part because the 72-hole competition is a crucial stepping stone for aspiring golfers aiming for the prestigious PGA Tour – and no quest that big should go unchallenged.  

Deer Creek’s reputation as one of the most challenging golf courses in Savannah, Ga., is widely known, along with the other five championship courses at The Landings Golf & Athletic Club. So are Deer Creek’s wide fairways and rigorous par threes that make it the most formidable golfing terrain on Skidaway Island.  

Give credit to the course’s designer for that toughness. And for its beauty, too.  

The Architect of Deer Creek 

The esteemed golf course architect Tom Fazio lent his creative genius to Deer Creek’s design. Fazio’s courses are often described as “symphonies of nature,” and Deer Creek is no different.   

Players remark on how the course seamlessly blends strategy, creativity, and the island’s natural beauty into every fairway and green. Fazio calls this “a harmonious balance between challenge and beauty.” 

Fazio’s journey in golf course construction began during his teenage years, working alongside his uncle, George Fazio. By 1972, Fazio had established his own firm in Jupiter, Fla. 

His legacy extends across more than 200 courses, with 46 of them ranking among Golf Digest’s top 200 courses in the U.S. The publication also named Fazio the “Best Modern-Day Golf Course Architect” not once, but three times. 

In 2009, Fazio returned to Deer Creek, overseeing a comprehensive modernization effort. Greens were meticulously rebuilt, chipping swales closely manicured, and the irrigation system and cart paths underwent a complete transformation. 

A Short History of Deer Creek 

Deer Creek shares its name with The Landings’ Phase IV development name. The first phase of The Landings’ construction began in 1972 after a dedication ceremony for the completion of a roadway and two bridges that connected Skidaway Island with the mainland. The Branigar Organization developed the property, hiring the firm of Sasaki, Dawson, and DeMay to design the community, including the Deer Creek neighborhood. 

Branigar also hired Fazio, whose “symphony of nature” approach complemented designer Hideo Sasaki’s artistic vision perfectly. Sasaki believed the streets should resemble tree limbs, the houses should blend with forest growth, and the approach to the island from the bridge should resemble a green belt.  

The course opened in 1991 and golfers quickly praised its large tee areas, extensive mounding, elevated greens, grass bunkers, and two-tiered fairways. They were also treated to a 14-acre practice area including eight target greens, separate practice sand bunkers and chipping greens, and a 36-hole putting green. 

A Course for Both Champions and Community 

As word spread about Deer Creek’s design and play, it wasn’t long before professional and amateur clubs took notice. In 1993, the Georgia Women’s Golf Association selected Deer Creek as the site for its Amateur Ladies’ Championship. Deer Creek hosted the Georgia State Golf Association’s Amateur Golf Championship in 2010 and 2022. In 2021 and 2022, the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) hosted the Sam Burns Classic. 

The Landings Golf & Athletic Club’s relationship with the Korn Ferry Tour blossomed in 2017, and the club hosted the first Club Car Championship in 2018. By all accounts, the tournament has been a huge success. The tournament set a record for volunteer sign-ups, and more than 150 players competed each year. Deer Creek received rave reviews from the pros, and the tournament ended with a large fan gathering around the 18th green. 

The Landings community celebrates the Fourth of July every year at Deer Creek, too. The annual fireworks show draws thousands of island residents each year to celebrate Independence Day. And Deer Creek – A Coastal Grill offers a panoramic view of Deer Creek’s 18th green. With a nautical interior and a gorgeous, covered patio, the grill is a hot spot for golf lunches, celebratory dinners, and Friday night bites.  

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