Early in his design career, Tiger Woods made it clear: He prefers walkable, bouncy courses where you can play with one ball and run your approaches along the ground into the greens—courses that engage the golfer with contour, strategy, options and variety. He pointed to Pinehurst No. 2, Augusta National and especially the Old Course at St. Andrews as prime examples. With two stellar championship layouts already under his belt—El Cardonal at Diamante in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and Bluejack National, a private-club course in Montgomery, Texas—Woods and his design team of Bryon Bell, Beau Welling and Shane Robichaud have achieved his goal. Courses currently under construction in Missouri and the Bahamas will deepen the Tiger design manifesto.
Another influence resonates equally powerfully with Woods. “There is so much I love about the Australian Sandbelt,” he told me a while back. “I’ve been lucky enough to play Royal Melbourne and Kingston Heath many times over my career. The bunkers are spectacular.
The firm and fast conditions create so many shot options, particularly around the greens. Players need to think their way around the course and be able to play different types of shots to score well. I hope people will see elements of this influence in all my designs, especially in creating shot options around the greens and making people think.”
Woods elaborated in a recent conversation with GOLF. “It’s all about the angle, bunker placement, firmness of the green. You have to be smart about it. I like that kind of golf. It is fast. It is hard. You have to be creative, you really have to manage your ball around the golf courses.” Credit Melbourne, Australia’s sandy soil, crunchy turf, and the design genius of Alister MacKenzie for helping to shape the Tiger Woods architectural style.
To sample Woods’s Sandbelt-influenced course design, explore…
EL CARDONAL AT DIAMANTE
Tiger’s first completed design overlooks the Pacific, amid the cactus-studded hills of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. It’s walkable and fun, with tons of shotmaking options—just the way he drew it up. Rate: $230
Diamante is a private real estate development, but marketing tee times are available to prospective buyers. Guests who rent privately owned villas by the week have access to the course as well. Rates: From $900/night, diamantecabosanlucas.com