A back injury may currently be keeping Tiger Woods off the links, but the world's top-ranked golfer is apparently leaving his mark on the sport in other ways during his time off.
On Wednesday, Woods and his self-named design company announced plans to open a new 18-hole course at Bluejack National, a private club in the Houston area. Bluejack National will take the form of a complete redesign from the 755-acre Blaketree National Golf Club, a former Houston hot spot that has fallen out of favor in recent years.
Woods said, per the announcement:
Bluejack National has one of the best natural settings for golf I have seen. 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.
The course is scheduled to begin construction this summer, with a planned opening in the fall of 2015. Tiger Woods Design will partner with club developer Michael Abbott of Beacon Land Development and Lantern Asset Management for the project.
According to the release, this will be the first course designed by Woods to open in the United States. Tiger Woods Design has holdings at Jupiter Island in Florida and The Cliffs at North Carolina, but those courses were not specifically designed by Woods. The company also has courses in Mexico and Dubai.
Layout plans for Bluejack National were not immediately released, but Woods said he has an expansive outlook for the property. Along with the typical 18-hole setup, there will be a short course and other amenities for club members. There will be 400 private residences available and innumerable recreational activities—including a bar, a bowling alley and a fishing dock.
Woods said the course itself will straddle the line between PGA-level difficulty and accessibility to more casual players.
"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.
Woods has played in only three tournaments in 2014. He has been on hiatus since a tie for 25th at the WGC-Cadillac Championship in early March. He had been dealing with pain related to a pinched nerve in his back dating back to last season and underwent a microdiscectomy to alleviate the condition on March 31.
The surgery caused Woods to miss the Masters for the first time since he turned pro in 1996. The timetable for his return is still uncertain. Woods has just over a month to ready himself for the U.S. Open at Pinehurst, which seems like a long shot at this point. The average recovery period after a microdiscectomy is typically between three and four months, meaning it could be July or even August before he returns.
But even if Woods' absence leaves a gaping intrigue hole at PGA offices, at least he's finding other ways to keep his name in the news. It's unclear at this time whether Woods has any plans to host tournaments or whether he will attempt to get Bluejack National a spot on the PGA's rotation.
If he does, it's safe to say Woods won't have to worry about any meddling designers "Tiger-proofing" the layout.
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