In this Months Condé Nast Portfolio magazine , Paul Sullivan’s article The Long Shot (yet to be released online) did an excellent job of painting a different picture of Tiger Woods…the Business Man.
The questions that were asked in this article were
Can the Greatest Name in SPORTS survive a stumbling economy?
Is Tiger’s focus on designing golf courses for a niche market best for Tiger or his business partners?
Is Tiger’s business deals good for golf or just good for Tiger?
Build Golf Courses for WHO?
Tiger Woods Design, Tiger’s golf course design company, is one of Tiger’s businesses Tiger spends a lot of time with while dealing with his rehab of his knee surgery. Tiger has three courses in the works around the world and even Jack Nicklaus taunted in his remark that "he (Tiger) is on his third golf course contract. He hasn’t done one yet. I don’t think he’s finished any golf courses. Has he?" This seeming shot across the bow made by the master of golf course design and construction to the storming media who want to be the first to proclaim Tiger a success in golf course design was meant to bring some reality to the situation many investors in Tiger’s projects should have with the golf economy today. It is one thing to put a lot of time in designing the golf course and going through the process, but closing the deal and surviving to see the course actually built is another. Contracts can be bought out, sold or canceled…very risky business Tiger is taking on right now.
Mr Sullivan’s report on how investors skepticism of any investment in the failing real estate market falls to the wayside when marketers of Tiger’s project mention to them Tiger Woods being the designer. Tiger’s Punta Brava, Mexico; Asheville, North Carolina and Dubai projects are targeted exclusivity to the absurdly affluent. How many people are left in the world who will take that risk?
To take for an example, Tiger’s Punta Brava, Mexico development will feature only 90 homes with entry level expected to be $3.5 million with the most expensive being $12 million. The club will have fewer than 400 members including the 240 people who are expected to pony up $1.6 million EACH for a 90 day fractional ownership in one of the 60 Villas. I think this answers Who Tiger is building Golf for, but will they come? The best guess is Maybe.
Is this the Tiger we know?
For many years, Tiger has been seen by the public, golfer and non-golfer alike, as their hero..the guy who could do a lot of things on the golf course that others could probably do, but would not take the risk to do, or try. Tiger from an early age was taught to take a risk..but is the risk he is taking in business is not the same as hitting a 5 iron out of a fairway bunker across a lake to a pin 216 yards away.
Tiger became the standard of golf skill for nearly all 28 million golfers in the world. Every golf instructor in the world, like it or not, was being asked by the everyday hacker to be taught to play golf like Tiger. Every thing in the golf industry changed to be Tiger-ized or Tiger-proof. And truly, Golf has improved immensely since Tiger took the podium and utter the two words I will remember him saying when he turn professional and taking the reins as the Prince of Golf…."Hello World!". What happened to that Tiger?
Is Tiger’s focus of developing properties for the few hundred golfers in the world who can afford (or who are willing to pay) the right thing at the right time for Tiger, for Golf or is his business partners up to their necks in commitments that only Tiger can pull them out of?
Is what Tiger doing in his businesses helping or hurting golf? Is what Mr Sullivan report outline showing us the Tiger that took that stand that afternoon in 1996 to tell us "Hello" or are we getting a glimpse of the Tiger Woods of tomorrow?
These and a lot more questions are being asked which only time will provide the answer. Like Jack Nicklaus said…Tiger has three golf course contracts but has not built a golf course yet? Maybe the Golden Bear of Golf is telling the heir to the throne of Golf that there is still time to find a way out of these very shaky business deals and turn back to helping Golf for the millions who are looking to him to help Golf survive.
Guess we all will have to wait and see which direction he takes.