Monday, October 05, 2009

Touring High Carolina with Tiger

It still takes some serious vision to see what will be Tiger Woods' first U.S. golf course design at the Cliffs at High Carolina.

That's because it's still mostly trees and gravel roads and watercolors sketches of what the finished product will be. What was immediately apparent during a visit there Saturday morning was the spectacular setting.

When Woods and developer Jim Anthony talk about the 'viewscapes' that offer views of 40 miles or more, they're not overselling it. From the top of the property where the clubhouse will be located, it's easy to imagine sitting on a porch, looking out across the miles and the mountains.

It won't be for everyone. Anthony said the first 30 lots sold averaged $1 million apiece and, if what I've been told is accurate, that doesn't include a six-figure initiation fee into the golf club. The good news is a membership will provide access to all eight Cliffs courses. The goal, Anthony said, is to make it "the most desirable place in America to live." That's why he spent the money on landing Tiger and it's fair to say the commitment to excellence will run throughout the development.

Tiger spent approximately 90 minutes walking the property with a small group of media members Saturday, talking mostly about his vision, because some holes haven't been cleared yet. A significant portion of the 18th fairway, for example, is still tree-covered.

The par-5 17th hole, however, has gone through a rough clearing and its general shape is easy to see.

The topography will require some significant grading and leveling in spots but Woods and his design team have smartly routed the course so that both the front and back nines will play downhill on their return to the clubhouse. By playing up the slope then back down, Woods wants to feature the views.

Having six sets of tees may seem like too many from a classic design approach but Woods said the variation will make it more playable for golfers of all skill levels. There won't be many forced carries and Woods is designing the course to allow players to bounce shots into the greens, leaving openings at the front of the putting surfaces for players who play the game closer to the ground.

Woods said he wants to keep a dense cover of trees on the sides of fairways, which won't be good news for spray-hitters but he intends to have ample landing areas.

With his wraparound shades, hiking shoes and work clothes on Saturday, Woods spent a portion of his day pitching the project to new and prospective property owners. Against the backdrop of a clear October day, he could let the setting sell itself.


Mike Nuzzo said...

Sounds like a great site.
With the clubhouse at the top of - how much do the 9th and 18th play downhill?
How uphill are 17 & 8?
I agree the setting could have sold itself - with a considerate design.