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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Advice for Tiger Woods: Course Designer

I'm sure just about all of you have read the news that Tiger is getting into the golf course design business. I was shocked to see that he would take that path at this point in his career. Here's my analysis of the decision and some advice that I have which he would NEVER consider taking but would be cool if he did.

Why He's Doing It:
1) Money - he'll probably command upwards of $5 million for his design fee.
2) Curiosity - it's a new challenge for him.
3) Expanding his empire - no explanation needed.

Why He Shouldn't:
1) It takes his focus away from playing golf.
2) Unless he spends A LOT of time with each course, he's not going to be very good at it.
3) It can actually dilute his brand if he doesn't handle each project carefully enough.
4) Putting his name into the course designer hat will take away opportunities for course designers who actually know what they're doing.

He was just in China and is now in Japan playing golf for $3 million in appearance fees per tournament. Remember -- he was too tired to play in the Tour Championship. While he's there, it's likely that he'll officially announce the first of his projects, which will almost surely be in China. Think he'll make a huge design fee??

Tiger will do just about anything within reason to make his millions. He's probably worth over $400 million at this point, and he'll be a billionaire soon. However, I'm not convinced that pimping his name in China for big cash is the best way to bolster his image to people who really follow golf and golf design. Sure he'll make money, but couldn't he get into design in a different way, a way that fosters goodwill and helps the American publinx golfer (he grew up on public courses, but that seems like a loooooong time ago)?

My first piece of advice to Tiger would be to begin by co-designing four or five courses alongside real pros from whom he can learn the craft. Playing a bunch of courses at the highest level does not necessarily qualify him to design golf courses, and if he wants to do it right, he should learn from someone like Bill Coore, Bobby Weed, Jim Engh, Tom Doak, or Gil Hanse. Nicklaus learned through a partnership with Pete Dye, and though Jack is not one of my favorite designers, he's pretty good at it now. Though I can't be sure, I'll bet Tiger does only solo designs right from the start. Remember what I said a few weeks ago about Tiger and being part of a team.

My second piece of advice is something that I'm very sure he would never do, but it would be a huge boost to his image and extend tons of goodwill to public golfers. I recommend that Tiger choose one neglected municipal layout designed by classic designers (like Donald Ross) each year for the next few years and offer to restore those courses to the original designs. And, his offer would be to do the work at 10% to 15% over cost.

There are many classic courses in a state of disrepair that are owned by cities and counties who cannot afford to make the renovations or restorations necessary to bring them back to their original sheen. Tiger is in a financial position to assist them and really make an impact on the state of affordable, public golf. Tiger learned to play on military courses and munis, but he's elevated his lifestyle so far beyond how he grew up (understandably), that projects such as the ones I suggest would help him keep connected to his roots.

I'm sure you're thinking that a megarich megastar doesn't need to stay connected to his roots, but I would argue otherwise. We've been told by Earl Woods that Tiger would make a difference outside the realm of sport. Maybe he will. But I would bank on him not. However, should he take on a project like this after getting some design seasoning, he would set himself apart from other stars who have sqaundered their status as role models by thinking only of themselves.


Blogger JTALIFER said...

Great Post JG!

All I can say is the rich want to get richer. That is how our country works. I think he may be getting burned out winning all the time and does want a new challenge. I would like to produce punk rock records, but I could not do it on my own. I would need a good mentor to teach me the craft. He is becoming the next Donald Trump. He wants his name on anything and everything. People get tired of that very quick. Just play golf and do what you know. Give your extra money to charities and leave it at that. What's next? An energy drink?

Seacrest Out!

10:46 AM  
Blogger John Gorman said...

I agree with you. Why would TW not accept all of the potential millions that will be dangled in front of him to design courses in favor of shining up classic munis? The only reason would be to bolster his image and solidify his non-tournament legacy. Not gonna happen, but it would be cool if it did.

Good point about mentoring too...

Call up J. Chang and propose your energy drink idea. I can see "Tiger Sweat" or "Tiger Blood" in bar carts around the world. Just ask for your requisite 15%. You've hit upon a great idea.

2:08 PM  
Blogger JTALIFER said...


I never thought about that. Why wouldnt he have a food or drink with his name on it. We need to get in touch with Chang stat!! While we are at it, we should give Harley an energy drink with his name on it. His guns are HUGE!!!

3:52 PM  
Blogger John Gorman said...

I haven't laughed that hard in a while. Good stuff.

But seriously, you should talk to my brother Patrick about setting up that energy drink thing. He's in the wine & spirits biz and could help you with a plan of attack. This could be your ticket! Let me know if you need Chang's email address.

5:37 PM  
Anonymous Tim G said...

It's really hard to say "no" to more money, no matter how much you already have. I used to say that I would stay 4 years in college instead of going to the NBA, but now I realize how naive that is. Tiger can't be blamed for that.

JG, I think your concern about TW designing the course solo (and as a result poorly) is overblown. He hasn't done this before, and with the time demand of winning multiple PGA events, he really won't have the time for it. Instead, someone else will be doing the heavy lifting while he puts the TW "signature" on the scorecard.

The muni course idea is a great one, especially if I can get on it for $50 or less.

9:15 PM  

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