Early reviews for Tiger Woods’ Bluejack National Golf Club near Houston: ‘Augusta like’

Early reviews for Tiger Woods’ Bluejack National Golf Club near Houston: ‘Augusta like’

Golf Channel visited Bluejack last week to produce four episodes of Golf Academy with World Golf Hall of Famer and Mark O’Meara. Stay tuned, episodes will air in early 2016!

MONTGOMERY, Texas — As of late November, only seven holes were open at the new Tiger Woods-designed Bluejack National Golf Club, north of Houston, but that hasn’t prevented the exclusive private club from making a favorable early impression. So much so, in fact, that it provided a perfect setting to host a few segments of Golf Channel Academy.

Golf Channel crews spent two days at the club filming the episodes, which will feature two-time major winner Mark O’Meara, who lives in Houston and serves as the club’s playing ambassador. In the segments, which are hosted by Golf Channel’s Dave Marr III, O’Meara discusses and demonstrates every aspect of the game — from putting and short game to driving and iron play.

That they were able to shoot the episodes at Bluejack National, the first U.S. design by Tiger Woods Design Group (El Cardonal opened in Mexico Dec. 16, 2014), signals that the course is coming along nicely. By January, the rest of the front nine is expected to open (members are currently playing holes 6 and 7, then 1 through 5), and the club is planning to have all 18 holes of this 7,552-yard par 72 open sometime in the spring. A grand opening with Woods is tentatively scheduled for late April after the Masters. (Woods was originally scheduled to appear earlier this month but canceled due to a follow-up procedure on his ailing back.)

Bluejack could probably open all 18, but there’s no rush

As it stands now, all 18 holes are nearly fully grassed. The fairways, surrounds and tees were sodded with Zeon Zoysia, a very player-friendly grass with a bright green color that provides a stunning contrast to the Premier White bunkers. The greens are Tif-Eagle, and the ones that are open are already Stimping around 10 or 11 feet. It doesn’t hurt that Bluejack National hired one of the country’s most respected superintendents, Eric Bauer, formerly of nearby Carlton Woods, another high-end club known for its outstanding conditioning.

“By this time next year, with a nice summer of grow-in, this course will look like it’s been here for 10 years,” O’Meara said after the second day of shooting Golf Channel Academy.

Marr, seeing the course for the first time, said Bluejack National is “beautiful.”

“If they continue what they’ve been doing so far, this is going to be a real special place,” said Marr, whose father, 1965 PGA Champion Dave Marr Jr., grew up and lived in Houston before he died in 1997.

While the course can certainly play long from the Tiger (back) tees, there are five other sets, including the front tees that allow golfers to play Bluejack from as little as 3,000 yards. And since there’s no rough, golfers won’t lose many golf balls, unless they hit into one of the four lakes on property.

Additionally, most of the greens have openings so golfers can play a variety of shots. In fact, O’Meara, during the short game segment of Golf Channel Academy, demonstrated short-game options from the same spot off the first green that ranged from lob wedge to putter and everything in between, including using a hybrid.

“Bluejack National is a course that everybody can play if they play it from the right tees,” O’Meara said. “You can run the ball in on some of the greens, where at some of these other golf courses it’s all forced carries. I’m a fan of having options, different shots you can play, not just one shot.”

Starting to feel a little like Augusta

Most southeast Texas golf courses are relatively flat, but Bluejack, built on the former site of Blaketree National, sits on hilly terrain with tall pines that have been thinned out to open up the course. There are points on Bluejack, ala Augusta National, where you can see several holes at once. And while it’s not quite as hilly as Augusta, there are elevated tees and greens, which is rare in this part of the state.

Couple that with fast, flawless conditioning (it’s not far from flawless already), no rough, and pine straw, and you can see why people are comparing the experience to that of Woods’ favorite venue.

“There are multiple places on this property where people have told me, ‘this reminds me of Augusta,'” said Rich Barcelo, who played professionally for 12 years and now serves as one of the club’s head golf professionals.

The first hole, with its elevated tees, bright white bunkers and lake to the left, certainly gives an Augusta-like impression. But the par-3 12th, which is Woods’ tribute to Augusta National’s “Golden Bell,” is more obvious.

“It’s just a bigger version of the 12th at Augusta,” Barcelo said.

And while Bluejack is an elite club, it is designed as a family club that eschews some old school golf traditions. There will be no tee times — at least in the short term — and members will be free to play as many or as few holes as they like. There’s also a 10-hole short course (The Playground), a learning center, expansive practice facilities, 35 acres of lakes for fishing, hiking and biking trails and other luxury-lifestyle aspects in the works, including tennis, a spa, a wellness center and indoor and outdoor recreational activities for families.

READ ARTICLE HERE on GolfAdvisor.com

Photo Previews of Bluejack National’s Hole No. 4 and Hole No. 5

Photo Previews of Bluejack National’s Hole No. 4 and Hole No. 5

Hole No. 4:
Hole No. 4 is a medium length par-4 that plays uphill to a wide fairway. It’s challenging, and players will have many options around a green with subtle contouring.

Hole No. 5:
A long par-5 that doglegs right, Hole No. 5 requires a strategic approach into an undulating green. From the tee, a breathtaking view where every hole on the front nine is visible.These are two of the seven holes Bluejack opened for members earlier this month. While the rest of the course continues to grow-in, we are very encouraged and gratified with the member feedback and response to our design philosophy. It’s delivering exactly what we envisioned: challenging yet fun, fast and playable for all golfers.

Dave Stockton Jr. Has Rave Reviews For Bluejack National

Dave Stockton Jr. Has Rave Reviews For Bluejack National

GOLF DIGEST ARTICLE: Tiger Woods ‘did a helluva job’ on Bluejack National, his first domestic course design

Instructor and former PGA Tour player Dave Stockton Jr. gave a clinic at the opening last week of Bluejack National, Tiger Woods’ first domestic course design, and returned with rave reviews.

“He did a helluva job with this design,” Stockton said on Thursday. “It did have the feel of Augusta National with the pine trees and elevation changes and the slopes. There were a limited number of bunkers and it’s not crazy with the bunkers around the greens.

“There’s no rough. The only way you’re losing a ball is if you hit it in the water. You’re not going to be searching or hunting for balls, so rounds will go quicker. It’s got a heckuva buzz and I can see why.”

Stockton said there are four scorecards, beginning with the Tiger tees, “which is as long as you want.” There are members tees, ladies tees and even kids tees, he said. “People are going to love it.”

Though the golf course is the centerpiece of the private development in Montgomery, Texas, outside Houston, it is only one of the attractions, and attractive qualities, at Bluejack National.

“It’s really impressive,” Stockton said. “There is a relaxed feel. If you want to wear jeans, fine. You want to wear your shirt untucked, fine. Look at golf today. Why is the game struggling to find new people to come play? Maybe they don’t want to get dressed up. Today’s kids, and some adults, want a little more relaxed attitude.”

Bluejack National also features a 10-hole practice course, with holes ranging from 35 to 110 yards. That ought to appeal to kids, but it will have competition. A miniature Fenway Park is being built for Wiffle ball games. Renowned skateboarder Eric Koston is designing a skate park. There is a zip line. And tree houses in which to spend nights.

“The concept of the whole club and what they’re doing is truly special,” Stockton said. “It has a great relaxed feel being there, a family feel, where there’s something for everyone.”

READ ARTICLE HERE on GolfDigest.com

Tiger Woods’ 1st U.S. Course, Bluejack National, Opens for Play

Tiger Woods’ 1st U.S. Course, Bluejack National, Opens for Play

Dozens of eager Texas golfers got their introductory playing test of Tiger Woods’ first U.S. design Thursday at the official member opening.

While the designer himself was unable to attend due to recent back surgery, those that played Bluejack National expressed satisfaction with the gentle rolling Southeast Texas layout dotted with dozens of mature trees, located 45 minutes from downtown Houston.

“For this day to finally come is very exciting,” said Bryon Bell, President of Tiger Woods Design. “It’s really important for this course to finally be open, and the real payoff is to hear the members talking positively about it.”

Nearly 100 members were on the grounds at Bluejack, which had a seven-hole loop open for the initial play, with the full course expected be ready by early 2016.

Former PGA Champion Dave Stockton and his son Dave Jr. gave a clinic on the large driving range, while members and guests took several turns on the layout that Woods worked on with former Tom Fazio associate Beau Welling.

“Sometimes architects give lip service to a playable, walkable course, but that’s what we did here,” Welling said. “We want people to enjoy the game and walk the course and that is what is happening. People said golf takes too long, but if it’s fun, people will do it for a long time.”

The first player to challenge the course was former President George W. Bush, who played with his good friend and land developer Michael Abbott in a special Monday preview round. Bush took advantage of the friendly conditions, covering the 7-hole loop in 40 minutes.

Early Thursday morning, Bell called Woods at his home in Jupiter, Fla., to tell him members were getting a chance to play his first American course and promising to take plenty of photos for an expected Woods return here in 2016.

“This course will define a new Tiger Woods,” Abbott said. “When people see this course and what has been created, they will not only think of the golfer with 80 victories, but a skillful architect as well.”

Abbott first walked on the land, site of the old Blaketree National course, in June 2013 and said he was gratified to see members enjoy the new golfing creation.

“We couldn’t be more proud,” Bluejack President Casey Paulson said. “To see it come from a piece of paper to a completed course is a great day.”