Advice for Tiger Woods: Course Designer
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.