Five hours on the golf course might make him a million dollars. A couple of days sketching out a golf course on a rocky outpost in Mexico might be that, plus another $10 million or so more.
Five minutes on the phone with me? Priceless.
That was the precise time allotted the other day when Woods made an appearance at a Los Angeles hotel to announce his latest business venture. I tried to make it six, but the ever efficient public relations woman would have no part of it.
There wasnt any talk about his surgically repaired left knee or his return to golf. Thats partly because Woods has already covered the subject as much as hes going to, but mostly because the only reason Woods had my number was to discuss the golf course he was designing about 70 miles south of San Diego.
And, hey, I only had five minutes. Think I was going to waste them by asking him about Elin and Sam?
So, Tiger, just how great is that Punta Brava course?
You really cant ask for a better piece of land, Woods said. Were going to have 17 greens or tees on the water, with eight shots played over water. I dont know of any other course that can say that.
Theres also not many other courses that can say they were designed by the greatest golfer of his time. Two to be exact, one now under construction in Dubai and another soon to break ground in North Carolina.
They dont come cheap. Nothing Woods is involved in comes cheap.
The price tag on this development is penciled in at about $100 million and will include the golf course, a hotel, some villas and 40 estate lots where the price tag starts at $3 million and goes to $12 million.
Thats just for land, which just about limits the pool of buyers to Woods and perhaps some former Lehman Brothers executives. Indeed, Woods plans to build a home there.
With the economy on the skids, this probably wasnt the best time to announce a development for the super rich, though the project has been under way for some time. Woods was supposed to walk the site on the Monday after the U.S. Open, but had an unplanned play date with Rocco Mediate and had to delay the trip a day.
At the official announcement Tuesday in Los Angeles, developer Red McCombs said that if it werent for Woods, he never would have become involved.
When this was brought to me, I wasnt especially turned on, said McCombs, former owner of the Minnesota Vikings and San Antonio Spurs. Then they told me there was a good chance that Tiger would be involved. I said, `Forget it. Its over. Im in.
Go to the Punta Brava Web site and theres some dramatic video of Woods standing on a rocky cliff overlooking the Pacific, surveying the scene and talking about the magnificence of it all. Study it closely because the whole development will be private and it may be the only chance we get to see the peninsula of land that juts out from the Mexican coast.
McCombs is betting that there is still a market for ultra high-end private clubs, even while the golf industry, as a whole, is in a deep and troubling slump. People are playing less golf than before, and after a decade-long boom more golf courses closed in each of the last two years than opened.
But having Woods on board is a sure way to stand out in the clutter of exclusive developments that have all but been reduced to begging for members. Everybody, it seems, has a Jack Nicklaus-designed course (he has 265 of them), but Woods promises to be stingy when it comes to the number of courses he puts his name on.
Im not going to probably design a lot of golf courses over the course of my career, Woods said. I dont have the time to design 10 golf courses a year like some guys do, nor do I want to.
Woods has always studied the courses he plays, and seems to know them as well as the greenskeeper. At the Masters every year hell notice the subtle changes made to the course before anyone else.
Whether that translates to great design wont be apparent until the first Woods course is completed in Dubai. As architect Pete Dye once told me, theres only so many ways to design a par-4, and its all pretty much been done before.
Whatever Woods does, though, is guaranteed to be better than the first hole he designed in seventh grade for a Golf Digest contest. It was a crazy horseshoe shaped par-5 dressed up with all the tricks he could come up with.
The person who won drew a straight par-4 with nothing on it, Woods said. What are you going to do?
Wish I could tell you, Tiger. Unfortunately, my five minutes are up.