Nicklaus Has Designs on the World

By Associated PressDecember 30, 2003, 5:00 pm
Jack Nicklaus was only half-joking when he spoke of flying along the Southern Cape of South Africa, a spectacular coastline that reminds him of California.
'You have 1,000 miles of 17 Mile Drive,' Nicklaus said, referring to the road that winds through Pebble Beach. 'I've flown in a helicopter up and down this property for 10 years, and I just see golf course after golf course after golf course that could be done.'
When the laughter subsided, Nicklaus added, 'Frankly, a lot of them will be done and are being done.'
Nicklaus Design recently opened its second golf course in South Africa (Pearl Valley), and has four others scheduled to open in the next three years. One of them is a joint venture with Ernie Els; another will be the first 'Bear's Best' course to be built outside the United States.
But Nicklaus has designs on more than just South Africa.

As 2003 came to a close, Nicklaus signed contracts to build golf courses in a dozen countries on the six continents where golf is played, such as South Korea, Brazil and Russia, which will be only the second 18-hole course in Moscow.
Nicklaus Design has 33 courses under construction, 17 of them overseas.
'Things slowed a little here at the start of last year,' Nicklaus said. 'And when the markets are slow, you look outside the country - Mexico, Europe, Asia. Places that haven't been very active are now more active. And we needed that to supplement what we're doing. It's far more than we ever thought.'
Over the last five years, no more than 10 percent of his design business was outside North America. This year, about 40 percent of the business was overseas.
Europe is particularly attractive.
Nicklaus has 15 golf courses in Europe, eight of which have been open for at least 10 years. Now, his company has 15 courses under construction on the continent, including nine in Spain.
'We signed more (golf course projects) in Europe this year than the last seven years combined,' said Tim Kenny, executive vice president of Nicklaus Design. 'Spain is very strong. It's the Florida of Europe, and people recognize that's where they want to be.'
This isn't the first time Nicklaus has gone global.
His first international courses were La Moraleja in Spain and Glen Abbey near Toronto, both in 1976. The Australian Golf Club in Sydney opened a year later.
Eight years passed before he opened another course outside the United States - Britannia Golf Club in Grand Cayman - but his overseas work really took off in the '90s.
He opened 82 courses from 1992 through 1998, and 47 of them were built outside North America. The majority of those were in Asia, where the economy was booming. That didn't last.
'Asia in the late '90s just died,' Nicklaus said. 'We did nothing in five years. Now, it's starting to come back.'
Nicklaus Design recently reopened its Hong Kong office when it started getting more leads and inquiries, a sign that demand for golf courses in Asia was on the rise.
Nicklaus Design sales in Asia this year were five times higher than the end of 2002.
And it's not just resort courses that cater to tourists.
Kenny says more international courses are serving the local market, and China and South Korea are among those moving toward golf course communities.
'They watch TV, they travel,' Kenny said. 'They see what we have, and they want it.'
They see a lot of Nicklaus courses wherever they go.
Nicklaus became interested in golf courses in 1966, the year he completed the career Grand Slam at age 26. He tagged along with architect Dick Wilson during the redesign of Scioto in Columbus, Ohio, and was hooked.
He first project was teaming with Pete Dye in 1970 to build Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head, S.C. (site of the MCI Classic), and Nicklaus Design now has 262 courses open for play around the world.
His courses have hosted more than 400 tour events, including four majors and a Ryder Cup.
Clearly, the Nicklaus name carries weight.
'My game gave me the opportunity to get involved in design,' he said. 'People look at me as a golfer. They don't know what I do design-wise, but obviously, I have a lot of name recognition in a lot of these countries.'
It's not just Nicklaus doing the work.
He has 10 design associates, who have been with him for the last 20 years. His three sons - Jack II, Steve and Gary - and son-in-law Bill O'Leary also work for Nicklaus Design, and each have left their mark.
Nicklaus said one of his proudest moments this year was when courses designed by Gary and Steve were ranked in the top 10 in the country among new private courses.
'I'm not going to build golf courses forever,' Nicklaus said. 'But I'm trying to build an organization so when I want to retire, the company will move on.'
Right now, it's moving all over the world.
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

“Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.