HOUSTON -- While Tiger Woods has been on the mend for back surgery, as it turns out, he hasn't exactly been idle. Woods has made a couple of recent trips to Texas, and on Wednesday, it was announced that the 14-time major champion is designing a golf course near Houston.
The new course will be at Bluejack National, a new ultra-private club currently under development in a countryside setting between the towns of Magnolia and Montgomery north of Houston. Owned by Dallas-based Beacon Land Development in partnership with Lantern Asset Management (also in Dallas), the new club is located on the former site of Blaketree National, a daily-fee golf course that closed two years ago after going through hard times.
Construction on the new golf course is scheduled to start this summer with a projected completion date for the fall of 2015. When opened, it would be the first golf course to be designed by Woods to open in the United States. An earlier Woods project in North Carolina, The Cliffs at High Carolina, has been tabled for now.
Bluejack National an exclusive retreat
The 755-acre Bluejack National isn't just another private club. It'll be more a retreat, open to members by invitation only. It's slated to include private residences, cottages for weekend visits from its members as well as a staging area for musical performances, bowling alley, movie theater and even a classic American burger joint. In addition to the championship golf course, which is set on a rolling piece of wooded property with streams and lakes, Woods has also agreed to design a "Short Course."
"Bluejack National has one of the best natural settings for golf I have seen," Woods said. "With its changes in elevation, the beautiful pines and hardwoods, Bluejack National is reminiscent of the pinelands of Georgia and the Carolinas. The opportunity is here to create a golf course unlike any other in the Houston area, and our goal is for it to be among the best in the nation."
Michael Abbott, one of the partners with Beacon, said his company is thrilled to have Woods as its architect.
"He spent a lot of time getting to know the property and understanding its potential," said Abbott, whose track record in golf course development also includes Vaquero Club and Four Seasons Resort Dallas and Four Season Hualalai in Hawaii and Diamante in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, where Woods is building another course. "Throughout the process it became clear that his vision for the golf course perfectly aligned with ours, and he shared our passion for bringing it to life."
Morning Drive: Geoff Shackelford discusses Bluejack National
Bluejack National: Augusta like, perhaps?
Woods gives the impression that the new course will be somewhat reminiscent of Augusta National, although the greens won't have nearly as much contour. The reason for that, he said, is to keep green speeds up. There will be plenty of hazards but no rough.
"The turf will be maintained at a single height of fairway cut, the under growth will be cleared and the forest floor will be covered with pine straw, making it easy to find and play wayward shots," Woods said.
Blaketree National had trouble attracting players from the golf-saturated metro Houston area an hour away and ultimately deteriorated. It was originally developed and designed by the late Thomas W. Blake, an accomplished lawyer and former golfer at Rice University in the 1930s. Blake passed away in 2001 just a month before it opened.
He had been sitting on the property since 1937 and didn't decide to develop it into a golf course until the early 1980s when the project was put on hold because of an economic downturn, but resumed the project in the late '90s.
Blake's design, a par 71 at more than 7,300 yards from the tips, could play extremely difficult. For example, there was a par 4 that played more than 500 yards from the tips over a water hazard to a small green surrounded by bunkers.
Woods, who started Tiger Woods Design in 2006, is set to unveil his first design later this fall, when El Cardonal at Diamante in Cabo San Lucas, is scheduled to open.