Fascinating look at the state of Tiger Woods' course design business

The lead article in Sunday's New York Times business section reported that Tiger Woods' first three golf design projects have either died-out (Dubai) or stalled (Cliffs in North Carolina, Punta Gorda in Baja, Mexico).  It's a fascinating article about the business of developing golf courses at the high-end and selling golf frontage property.  

While I found this article to also be informative and therefore worth reading, it's also ultimately flawed on a couple of counts.

The informative aspect was how serious and energetic Tiger Woods was in helping to design and develop the courses to the state they're at now.  As a new designer I think it's impressive he provided 27 routing maps for Punta Gorda, the project located in Baja, Mexico where reporter Paul Sullivan claims the top architects provide three or four.  That implies he's leveraging these opportunities to learn the business by putting far more effort than contracted.  It's also interesting to note that some of the highest-end projects can't generate lot sales, the key factor in getting most courses off the ground with sufficient financing to finish the course and common grounds. 

However the article attempts to disengenuously apply some schadenfreude to Tiger Woods due to his scandal where none seems warranted; especially since these projects saw their sales cliff prior to his scandal.  The article's last sentence implies Tiger Woods is responsible for the partners of his ventures not having their course delivered when in fact it's the partners' responsibiity to deliver a course.  The partners themselves all note they're responsible for the state of their projects rather than Mr. Woods.

Besides insinuating Mr. Woods' scandal has harmed these projects in spite of the objections of the projects' respective partners, the reporter fails to provide any perspective relative to other top course designers and the state of their latest highest-end projects.  All we get is snarky conjecture regarding Mr. Wood's damaged reputation with zero evidence, including circumstantial, that Mr. Woods is responsible for the state of these projects.  If Tom Fazio, Pete Dye, Tom Doak, and Tom Weiskopf's similar projects were flourishing perhaps the snarkiness would be warranted, but no perspective beyond Woods' designs are given.

I do disagree with the president of Tiger Woods course design business, Bryon Bell.  The Times reporter Paul Sullivan writes:

Regardless, Mr. Woods’s work with these projects is largely done. He has been paid the bulk of his contract fees. “Traditionally, a course designer’s job begins and ends with designing a great course,” said Mr. Bell, the head of the company.

Well no.  Having read a handful of books on golf course design, including Pete Dye and Tom Doak's, it's traditional for the designer to also monitor the construction of the course, including the supply of modifications to tweak an abstract design to findings discovered during the construction phase.





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Mike Heath

Mike Heath

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