Tiger tracks sighted at last
The next phase of Woods’ career appears to be taking him down a very well-trodden path.
Cast your eye down the list of the world’s most prolific golf course designers and you’ll notice a few familiar names. Nicklaus, Palmer, Player, Norman... and on it goes. Many of the game’s most decorated players are now some of the most prolific course designers – as the numbers below clearly show. And to that list we might soon be adding a new big name: Tiger Woods.
Initially hindered by the global recession, Tiger’s TGR Design portfolio is now growing fast, with three courses open and six in the design or the construction phase (see box right). Business is finally booming.
“The design business has not proved as lucrative as Tiger and TGR would have hoped back in the mid-2000s when they founded TWD,” says Adam Lawrence, editor of Golf Course Architecture. “But there is so much money at the top level of the ‘signature’ design market that it was no surprise that someone with his profile should see it as a logical step.”
The general rule in course design is that the higher the number of courses a player has to his name, the less likely he is to have been hands-on involved. “When a pro is described as the designer of a course, their involvement could be anything from just banking a nice cheque and hitting the ceremonial first drive to putting a serious amount of effort in,” says Lawrence.
Right now, Tiger’s taking a less-is-more approach. “We limit the number of courses we work on at any given time to make sure I can fully commit to every project,” he told GW in a statement. But how hands-on is he? “Tiger spends a significant amount of time on-site prior to construction to develop routing and set the vision for the course,” says TGR Design president Bryon Bell. “He makes regular site visits during construction to ensure the implementation of his vision.”
Such levels of dedication may diminish if Woods ever reaches the output levels of Player and Palmer (see below) but the market has dramatically changed. “Those players had the bulk of their projects during the ’90s and early 2000s when there were hundreds of courses being built every year,” says Lawrence. “The crash of 2007/8 put paid to that sort of activity in mature golf markets and several new markets, like China, have hit the buffers for a variety of reasons. So I’d be surprised if Tiger ever got to the same numbers as Player, Arnie and Jack.”