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Tiger Tees

By: Geoff Shackelford

In the midst of pursuing Jack Nicklaus’ 18 major wins, Tiger Woods is now competing against the Golden Bear in course design. And if design fees are a way to keep score, Tiger already has won this duel.

Depending on the project’s location and scale, Woods’ reported fee of $25 to $40 million is at least 10 times the price charged by Jack Nicklaus, who has a track record of successful projects around the globe.

The eight-figure price alone ensures that Woods’ entry into the design business is fraught with risk. Unlike Nicklaus, who apprenticed under Pete Dye, Woods has opened up shop without any previous experience in a complicated trade that converges artistry, landscape design, strategy and salesmanship. The pressure to create a major-championship quality venue from the outset will be immense.

With the typical aplomb of a player who has won 12 majors, Woods, who selected Dubai as the site of his first project, called Al Ruwaya, doesn’t seem to mind. “I just felt it was time for me to try something different, something creative and something that will challenge me in a different way,” he says.

Woods, who says the Old Course at St. Andrews is his favorite layout in the world, always has been interested in architecture. But the bar is very high for player-architects. As Bobby Jones proved with Augusta National, creating a design masterpiece can be just as lasting as major wins.

For Woods to cement his legacy as an architect, he will need a once-in-a-lifetime project a la Augusta National, Nicklaus’ Muirfield Village and Ben Crenshaw’s Sand Hills.

Ultimately, legacy is everything for Woods, who plays not for money or trophies, but for history. Entering the design business was inevitable. Judging by his accomplishments in other areas of golf, it wouldn’t be surprising if he outdoes his predecessors in this business, too.

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