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Tiger Woods Building a New Golf Course in Mexico…But Should He?

by Craig Better

Oct232012

The Tiger Woods golf course in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico has a lot to live up to.

If you’re a regular reader of my tips, you weren’t surprised by yesterday’s “news” that a Tiger Woods golf course is under construction in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

I tipped you off seven months ago about Tiger designing a course at Cabo’s Diamante.

Now the official press release is out, and with it, the fawning stories from the mainstream media.

But amidst the cheerleading, there are two things I haven’t seen:

One, any sort of credit that we broke the story (thanks, esteemed colleagues).

And two, that this assignment might be a terrible idea for Tiger.

The problem is that Tiger didn’t get the best piece of property at Diamante to work with.

That went to Davis Love III, who designed Diamante’s original Dunes Course, which is utterly spectacular in part because it plays along the Pacific Ocean.

Tiger’s tract is more inland. Sure, golf architects and shapers can do amazing things nowadays, but building more ocean frontage — and the sensory factors that come with it — isn’t one of them.

This is the main reason I think, as good as Tiger’s course may be, it will always play second fiddle to Love’s, and it’s why he should have passed on the project.

Assuming this will be his first completed golf course anywhere in the world, you wouldn’t think he’d want it upstaged by a sibling rival.

Let me be clear: I think a Tiger Woods golf course is a coup for Diamante, its homeowners and members, and anyone else who gets to play there.

But for Tiger’s ego and personal brand? Not so much.

What do you think? Is this another example of questionable decision making from Tiger? That he’s OK with not being No. 1 anymore? Something else?

Please share your thoughts or read what others are saying below.

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Fran October 23, 2012 at 11:24 am

I wouldn’t play a Tiger Woods course yet just because he’s still a novice at it. After a half dozen or so are built by his golf architecture firm would I plunk down the hundreds of dollars I’m sure any TW designed course would demand. I don’t even know what type of startegy a TW course would demand and what type of course he prefers to build. I’m liable to hate his style or love it but at this point I don’t even know what a TW designed course entails.

2 Mike Frey October 23, 2012 at 11:29 am

At this point in life Tiger is looking for any loose change he can find. With endorsement income not being what it was he’s one slip on a banana peel from losing it all. TW needs to generate much more income than he has to pay off his enormous debt as well as maintain his current standard of living. Wife didnt go away cheap,leaving one to wonder why he overpaid for a divorce with a prenup.

3 michael October 23, 2012 at 11:31 am

Why not wait and see the finished course before being critical? How many oceanfront holes does Augusta National have? Pine Valley?

4 Craig Better October 23, 2012 at 11:32 am

If Tiger creates something even approaching Augusta or Pine Valley, I will gladly stand corrected.

5 John October 23, 2012 at 11:32 am

If you don’t respect Eldrick Tiger Woods as a person why would you want to play a course he designed?

6 Bob Ford October 23, 2012 at 11:36 am

Clearly, the very best courses in the world have very little to do with WHO, as opposed to WHAT. Yes, an architect/designer can make something fantastic out of things that us mere mortals never “see”, but, honestly, it’s always the dirt (property) that make for a great layout, a great experience, and a great game! Who would have thought that on a lonely, desolate and quite difficult property to get to, that Bandon Dunes would be what it is! The GODS determined the course, the designers merely put it into effect!

In addition…if Tiger does a course, will us mere mortals be able to afford it? Not in today’s world!! He’s a man of the masses, and should think about that when he works on course design….I’m just sayin’!!

7 Mark October 23, 2012 at 11:44 am

The only evidence you need that any inland course can rival its oceanside siblings in Bandon Trails. Case closed.

I don’t have a care factor in whether or not Tiger ends of being a great course designer, but modern architects have all shown that *MUCH* can be done on land that doesn’t have all the stimuli of the ocean, waves, beaches, sharks and seals.

8 Ed October 23, 2012 at 11:54 am

As for breaking the story 7 months ago when it was to be kept quiet, no kudos there. As for the land, it’s not oceanfront but should have good views from most of the gently sloping property. I think Tiger has something to prove with his course design business and this is a great place to start. Also, Diamante doesn’t do things on a second rate basis.

9 Moe October 23, 2012 at 12:10 pm

I disagree. As an owner at Diamante and having seen the tract of land that the TW course will be built on though it may not have the grandeur of the DL course it will still be spectacular. I just played Pine Valley last week and Oakmont two months ago and as another reader noted there are no Ocean holes there. Bandon Trails is another example, it may not be Pacific Dunes but still in the top 50 in the US.

I can’t wait for the TW course to be completed which will give me another spectacular option to choose from.

10 Craig Better October 23, 2012 at 12:26 pm

Thanks, Moe, but that’s exactly my point — as good as Bandon Trails is, it’s still ranked behind Pacific and Bandon Dunes. My guess is the same thing is going to happen at Diamante, and the Tiger I used to know would be none too pleased about it. Sure, he can avoid this by creating something on par with Augusta, Pine Valley, or Oakmont, but how likely is that?

11 headybaldguy October 23, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Craig, why would you predetermine the result without knowing the TW style?

12 Craig Better October 23, 2012 at 1:31 pm

It’s not gospel, just my opinion. Again, Tiger’s course may be very good — even great by some standards — but I don’t think he’ll be able to build something that outshines the awesome Dunes Course given the piece of property and budget he has to work with. Would love to be proven wrong, though!

13 Brandon October 23, 2012 at 2:45 pm

My feeling is that anyone who has the understanding of the game and the passion for the strategic part of golf that he possesses, will have SOMETHING unique to offer in the course-design world. While some of the greatest designers were not Tour-Caliber players or even scratch handicappers, I imagine the ability to play the game at the highest level will enhance his ability to build a golf course that will be fun, strategic, and unlike some of the other designs that are prevalent today.

I would give him the benefit of the doubt to start with in terms of playing his course if I had the chance. It can be a gift and a curse though, as I would surely give him the chance, but if I thought it lacked imagination or definitive strategy, I would be severely disappointed knowing that someone of his golf mind chose to be adequate.

I would think I’m not alone, and I think that alludes to Craigs point. He doesn’t like to be adequate, and faced with the decision to be the 2nd best course at a resort, I think he would either spare no expense, time and capital to make sure that didnt happen…or potentially scrap the project entirely. Only time will tell…

Fantastic article Craig…keep up the great work!

14 Willy P October 23, 2012 at 6:03 pm

This is not Tiger’s first course. I believe he has designed a course at the Cliffs in North Carolina, another one in Baja (Punta Brava still yet to be built), and a course in Saudi Arabia. And the DL course at Diamante is indeed spectacular!

15 Doug Roberts October 23, 2012 at 8:46 pm

It is rare for any one of us to garner play priviledges at a new course prior to professional opinion of the layout establishing a certain need/desire to put it in your “I’ve played that list”. I had sojourned to Bandon prior to the drumbeat of praise, but I standardly await opinion of a track from golf reviewers I respect. I haven’t been to Diamante and would gladly play a TW track whether its 2nd to a DLIII course or not. Should Tiger have declined, come on…..who cares? He wants his name on as many courses as possible….aka Jack, Arnie etc. I’m sure he’ll do a fine job. There just aren’t so many opportunities at developement to turn away this one.

16 Craig Better October 24, 2012 at 10:25 am

I agree that the golfing public could/should care less, that he’ll do a fine job, and that he wants to build a vast design portfolio. My point, however, is that he should care more. His brand is in a precarious spot right now. Not sure it’s smart for his first completed design to be known as, “the second best course” at a resort. Look, I’m a Tiger fan. I think he’s great for golf. And it’s why I think he shouldn’t be jumping on all design opportunities at the outset, but instead the RIGHT design opportunities. I don’t think this was it.

17 Doug Roberts October 24, 2012 at 1:38 pm

Tiger’s company was set up in 2006…..To date no course has officially been open for public play. If not Diamante? I’m of opinion TW needs to take on any and all opportunities. Review Jack’s portfolio of course work. Are you aware of which course was his first? If TW wants to emulate anyone regarding design it would probably be Jack. The economy has dealt a huge blow to developement opportunities and TW taking on Diamante project is his right move IMHO.

18 Craig Better October 24, 2012 at 3:18 pm

Correct. Diamante will most likely be his first course to actually open and be played. Nicklaus started his design career by consulting and then co-designing with Pete Dye and other greats before going solo. His first project with Dye resulted in The Golf Club in Ohio (one of America’s top-100). Then came Harbour Town (top-100), then Muirfield Village (top-100). His first solo design was Canada’s Glen Abbey (top-100 in CAN). Do we see a pattern here? The success and eventual iconic status of these early choices (and, of course, maintaining his game) allowed him to have such a prolific design career. Particularly today, when there are more qualified architects vying for fewer projects, I think it’s important that nothing overshadow Tiger’s first design. I certainly don’t fault the guy if he needs the money, but somehow I think he’s doing OK in that department.

19 steve p. October 26, 2012 at 2:32 pm

I’m sure Tiger’s design will be like the rest of the courses in the Cabo area and most of those designed by other PGA Tour players: over-rated.

20 brian c October 27, 2012 at 11:26 am

the dunes course is the best course i have played, the greens could be better and i think they will improve (hard & thin)as they mature. Tiger`s course, being away from the ocean, will not be quite as windy as the dunes course which is a plus. i am looking forward to playing another gem of a golf course.

21 Matthew Moore November 5, 2012 at 11:09 am

Craig,
Thanks for this great article.
I’m right there with you on this one. Tiger’s personal brand has taken a pummeling in the past four years, as has his golf game. He’s #2 in the world to Rory right now, but that’s a whole lot different to building a second fiddle course at a golf resort. Tiger needs to choose the right piece of the land for a course that reflects his career so far, unprecedented, dominant, exciting, perplexing and difficult to get to know.

Didn’t Tiger start work on a Dubai course at the time of the global financial crash? I can’t imagine this is financial necessity driving him – I’d hold out for better land if I were him.

22 Tom November 6, 2012 at 3:45 pm

Didn’t Tiger build a course at Keowee? Or was it shelved for economy or when he got caught with his little friends?

23 Jayme November 6, 2012 at 5:44 pm

I think that in any area there will always be a #1 course based off of certain peoples opinions. Doesn’t mean other courses in the area cannot be appealing and a fan favorite. I have never seen a Tiger Woods designed course but considering his time in the business professionally and as an amateur golfer I am sure he knows a thing or two about how a course should be set up. Not to mention the analysis and comparisons to other successful courses that can be done by his team of professional architects. Not sure how I could say Davis Loves course would be any better just because of the number of ocean view holes it has. I have never seen a course designed by D Love either. I don’t see it being a failure because it is competing against D love’s course or because they are in the same area. Not really fair at this stage I would wait until the course is completed and playable.

24 mwjohnson November 13, 2012 at 4:59 pm

Tiger designed a course for Jim Anthony at the cliffs. It was to be the cliffs at high carolina. He has shaped several holes then the economy killed it. Bummer, since I am a member at the cliffs and was looking forward to seeing what he could do. We have Gary Players links style course finishing up in 2013 so that should be a fun addition.

25 DR JOHN November 13, 2012 at 7:43 pm

The course will be built on high land near the main gate with 18 holes with a view of the PACIFIC. Not on the beach but within a few hundred yards. It will be “more ” public than the Dunes and probably associated with a high end resort hotel.
That said it will be out of the main blast of the trade winds yet still have a good breeze. The view is out of this world gorgeous. The sloping nature of the land guarantees elevation changes and optical variance. And lets not overlook the petigree of Tiger’s design “help”. It was good enough for a pretty good designer named Fazio. This will be a desert /park course and I can’t wait to play it. It should stand on it’s own merit and be judged accordingly. There is room for a great course anytime, and this one comes with a view.
As an aside, a little known guy from the northwest has been snooping around next door to the Dunes on the beach and talking pure walking course .On top of that look up Diamante #3 “The Oasis” to be built in a man-made valley beside Tiger’s course . When completed you will think you are playing in a tropical paradise -not a desert. Not a bad 3(or 4) course complex . Hold your uninformed prejudgement. And hold your breath. We might just be treated to a destination equivalent to the other “Dunes” in Oregon. Except this one has PERFECT weather.

26 jeff November 21, 2012 at 2:12 am

Moe, I’m available for adoption or indentured servitude as a valet!!!

27 JJ January 2, 2013 at 3:36 pm

Do most people prefer the Kapalua Bay Course, or Plantation Course? Yes, an extreme comparison – but oceanfront doesnt necessarily mean better. Wait until it is done. If its amazing some golfers will pay top dollar because it is an awesome course and Woods has his name is on it. If its terrible some golfers will pay top dollar because Woods has his name on it.

28 Learnedithere January 2, 2013 at 6:37 pm

Withhold judgment – let’s see what he creates first. The point is well taken but we’ve all seen great pieces of land destroyed by legendary golfers (countless examples) and novices create great courses out of ordinary land (e.g., PV, Myopia Hunt, Oakmont, Merion). In general, I’ve yet to be convinced that any modern, pro golfer is a good, more less great, architect. The names sell houses and developments but the courses leave a lot to be desired. Put bluntly, I won’t be making the trek to play it or Love’s track anytime soon. I’ll take North Berwick, Guillane, Machrihanish, etc. any day over these modern monstrosities.

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