Tiger had been coy
the other day when a European reporter asked if he planned to spend part of his
week in the desert, stepping off yardages and planting little red flags.
("I'll probably go out to the site and take a look," Tiger said.) His
nascent design team, however, is huddling with the Tatweer staff at the
Emirates Club. Tiger's man on the ground is his childhood friend and high
school teammate Bryon Bell, who caddied for Tiger on occasion before going to
work at the Tiger Woods Foundation.
understandable curiosity about Tiger's foray into course design. Typically, a
champion golfer either partners with an established golf architect--Arnold
Palmer with Ed Seay, for example, or Ben Crenshaw with Bill Coore--or hires a
staff of practiced landscape engineers and architects � la Jack Nicklaus, whose
design company has produced 310 courses in 30 countries. Tiger would seem to be
leaning toward the latter model (he took advantage of Nicklaus's generous offer
to let Bell visit his North Palm Beach offices to study the golf course
operation), but he turns vague when asked who will actually read the
topographical maps and produce the construction drawings.
In L.A., Tiger had
assured me, "I will not be hiring some guy to design a golf course. I'll be
hands on and involved in it."
He was more
forthcoming about his design philosophy. "My tastes are toward the old and
traditional. I'm a big fan of the Aussie-built courses in Melbourne, the
sand-belt courses. I'm also a tremendous fan of some of the courses in our
Northeast." Tiger didn't name those courses, but I mentally ticked off some
classic layouts that he probably likes: The Country Club, Shinnecock Hills,
Merion, Baltusrol, Winged Foot.
"I'm not one
who thoroughly enjoys playing point B to point C to point D golf," he
continued. "The courses I like are the ones where you have the option to
play different shots. I enjoy working the ball on the ground and using
Liverpool?" I asked, naming the English course on which Tiger won the 2006
British Open using a 19th-century arsenal of low, scooting tee shots (played
almost exclusively with irons and fairway metals) and ground-hugging
He smiled at the
memory. " Liverpool this year and St. Andrews in 2000 are the only times
I've seen the fairways faster than the greens. You hit a putt from the fairway,
it was running one speed. It got to the green, the putt slowed down." His
smile broadened. "That's not like most golf courses, but that's what I like
to see. It fits my eye."
Now, walking on
the Arabian desert under dark, roiling clouds, I pause to squint, to fit my
eyes to the scrubby slopes and narrow washes of Tiger's blank canvas, trying to
see a golf course.
Pretty soon, I see
Tiger says the two
years he spent at Stanford are starting to pay off. . . .