For most PGA Tour pros, golf course architecture is an afterthought, a possible career path after their playing days are over. This is not the story of 2nd year PGA Tour pro Zac Blair. He’s living out his dream of playing golf on the PGA Tour and studying the world’s greatest golf courses for his dream project of building Utah a world-class golf course, The Buck Club.
Who is Zac Blair?
To say that Blair is a golf junkie is an understatement. The game is intertwined in his DNA. Son of Jimmy Blair, a former PGA Tour pro and Utah golf legend, Zac learned from an early age the fine points of both playing and architecture, as his father builds and operates 9-hole executive courses in Utah. When he recalls his childhood, he remembers watching his father sketch hole designs and tagging along while Jimmy looked at potential sites for new courses.
After a great junior golf career, Blair stayed home playing collegiately at BYU where he was an All-American and qualified for conditional status on the Web.com Tour as an amateur in 2013. He continued to play amateur events before turning professional in the mid-summer of 2014. Zac took advantage of his early starts on the Web.com and earned his PGA Tour card in just a half season, an impressive feat.
Fast forward two years, and Blair is now wrapping up a successful second season on the PGA Tour highlighted by his 3rd place finish at the Sony Open. Heading into this week’s FedEx Cup, he is 103rd in the FedEx rankings and looking for a good week to move into the top 70 and advance to the BMW.
Zac Blair at the John Deere Classic
Like most great ideas, The Buck Club solves a problem. This one, Utah’s lack of a great golf course. “I want to give Utah a great classic style golf course,” Zac explains, “one that can stack up with the Pine Valley, National Golf Links of America, and Chicago Golf Club’s of the world. We have a few good courses but not a really great one. Also, I want a world class place for the BYU golf team to play and practice.”
His vision is to create a great representation of a golden age golf course (1910-1937), but with modern shot values to enhance the subtle architectural elements that have been lost at most classic courses because of technology.
As for the vibe, Zac wants to keep The Buck Club laid back, a place that people want to hang out at whether they are playing or not. How do you do that? He doesn’t want a gaudy, over the top clubhouse, but rather, a cool locker room setting that will make people want to grab a bite to eat and watch the game. Blair also wants to avoid some of the old school rules that other courses are holding onto such as a no cell phone policy or ban on yardage measuring devices. The Buck Club will definitely promote walking but allow carts for players that feel like riding.
While Blair is a golf course architecture nut, it doesn’t mean he wants to be a golf course architect. As he looks forward, “I don’t want to necessarily consider golf course architecture something I do for a living, but I want to build one course and build it right.”
History has proved that many times an architect’s first golf course is their best work. If history repeats itself, it bodes well for Blair’s dream and The Buck Club.