An Expensive Date
Joe Hardy, a 74-year-old Pittsburgh lumber magnate, isn't the world's wealthiest or most powerful man, but he has succeeded in securing something that has been beyond the grasp of the sultan of Brunei, King Hassan of Morocco and President Clinton: a tee time with Tiger Woods.
Hardy, founder of the Mystic Rock pro-am, a charity event that was held on Monday at his plush Nemacolin Woodlands Resort & Spa in Uniontown, Pa., lured Woods with a reported $1.8 million—$1.3 million of it up front—to compete in the tournament in 1997, '98 and '99. On Monday, Woods and 34 other pros, including John Daly and Mark O'Meara, played with 132 amateurs, each of whom had paid $10,000 to enter. All 25,000 tickets to the exhibition were sold at $15 apiece. Hardy, who partnered with Woods and Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge, hopes publicity from the exhibition, which had no purse but paid a minimum appearance fee of $5,000 per pro, will help his quixotic campaign to bring a PGA Tour event and, eventually, the Ryder Cup to his resort.
Hardy's 84 Lumber is the largest privately held chain of lumber stores in the country, and he is used to getting what he wants. When architect Pete Dye told Hardy that the site he had chosen for the 6,900-yard, par-72 Mystic Rock course was too rocky, Hardy responded by ponying up $18 million to have Dye build the course despite the 300,000 boulders.
Woods accepted Hardy's offer six weeks before winning the Masters—"Thank god we did the deal then," Hardy says—because playing in the exhibition was so convenient. Hardy sent his private Sabreliner jet to Dallas to pick up Woods after the final round of the Colonial Tournament on Sunday; on Monday night the jet was to fly him to Columbus, Ohio, 20 minutes from Mystic Rock by air, for this week's Memorial. Woods booked himself what amounted to a $1.3 million layover.
Hardy also scored a publicity coup with Daly, who made Mystic Rock his first public appearance since completing alcohol rehabilitation. Not coincidentally, Hardy paid for Daly's stay at the Betty Ford Clinic in Palm Springs, Calif.
Though the Mystic Rock pro-am donated nearly $100,000 to the Leukemia Society of America, charity was clearly not the event's chief purpose. "I'm not a big golfer," says Hardy, a 20 handicapper, "but when my friends ask if I play, I can now say, 'Yeah, with Tiger Woods.' "
Another Tiger Tale
What's a little lakefront property among friends? We'll see. All we know for sure is that last week Tiger Woods aced out new buddy Michael Jordan for three adjacent lots covering five acres in Isle-worth, the pricey, gated community in Orlando that's home to lucre-laden athletes such as Ken Griffey Jr., Mark O'Meara and Shaquille O'Neal. The lots, on which Woods plans to build a multimillion-dollar house complete with a par-3 golf hole, cost $2 million.
Jordan's interest has Orlando Magic fans buzzing. The NBA team reportedly has offered Bulls coach Phil Jackson a five-year, $30 million deal to move to Florida. Would Jordan follow his favorite coach? Only one thing is certain: Just two prime lake-front lots remain in Isleworth.