Fresh off his first U.S. course design, the golf superstar sets his sights on the sport’s next generation.
Tiger Woods has been breaking records on the golf course for nearly all of his 40 years. But the 14-time Major champion is a relative newcomer in the world of golf-course design. His first course, El Cardonal at Diamante, opened at a private resort community in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, at the end of 2014. More recently, this April, he was on hand at the Bluejack National club outside of Houston to unveil his first design in the United States. Following a brief exhibition on the back nine with his friend and fellow PGA Tour star Mark O’Meara, Woods sat down with Robb Report to discuss his nascent career and how golf-course design can preserve the sport’s popularity.
Why did you pick Houston as the setting for your first U.S. course?
There are two reasons that I had to be a part of this project: the land and the people involved. Bluejack does not feel like a typical Houston-area course. The terrain features significant elevation change and is more like something that you’d find in Georgia or the Carolinas. Aside from the land, the team behind Bluejack National—Mike Abbott, Casey Paulson, and Andy Mitchell from Beacon Land Development—has truly delivered a special place.
How does this course compare with El Cardonal?
At first glance, El Cardonal and Bluejack National appear extremely different. El Cardonal is set in a desert environment with spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. Bluejack National, which plays through towering pines and large oaks, has a very different look. But as people play both courses they will find similarities in the design. The landing areas are wide, neither course has a rough cut, and cross hazards are avoided when possible. We’ve also cleared a lot of the ground cover outside of the turf on both courses, making it easier to find errant shots and advance them back into play. Both are meant to be fun and playable for golfers of all skill levels.
How do you keep the course challenging for low-handicap players?
To score, players will need to hit their approach shots from the preferred angles into the greens, which will force them on their tee shots to challenge bunkers, take risks, and play smart. The firmness of the greens and green surrounds will also add to the difficulty for better players.
Of all the courses you’ve played, which do you look to the most for design inspiration?
My favorite course is the Old Course [at St. Andrews]. I love that there are so many different shots that can be played, especially shots along the ground. It’s a very strategic golf course, and choosing the correct angle of approach is critical if you want to score. While there are definite spots you don’t want to be, generally you can always find your ball and have a chance to recover. What I find so appealing at the Old Course are the same principles that we try to incorporate into our design efforts.
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