Sep
15
2016
Whoa, whoa, wait, what?! Tiger Woods is allegedly single-handedly saving the golf industry
By Stephanie Wei under Tiger Woods

chicago golf

Tiger Woods might be involved in a Chicago lakefront golf project — a vision NBC/Golf Channel commentator Mark Rolfing has long considered a dream concept, “combining the Jackson Park and South Shore golf courses to create a South Side mecca near the site of the planned Obama library,” according to my boy Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune. Given it’s a heavyweight project featuring bold-faced names, naturally, Mike Keiser, the mastermind behind the popular Bandon Dunes Resort on the coast of Oregon, is also involved as an adviser. 

Two years ago, Keiser told Rolfing, a fellow native of Illinois that his pet project had a one-in-100 chance of succeeding, but recently, he has changed his tune and said Thursday that it’s now “2-in-3.” Naturally, I’m burying the lede, but Keiser, who isn’t really the type to boast or add fuel to the fire for the sake of publicity, said that there’s a strong chance Tiger Woods will be involved in the project as the golf course architect. Yes, Tiger Freaking Woods.

And if that isn’t enough, Keiser said he believes Tiger Woods is “on board” to be the course architect and might be willing to waive his design fee, given that the course would benefit The First Tee of Greater Chicago.

Rolfing cautioned that Woods’ hiring is “not a done deal,” but he told the Tribune the 14-time major winner visited Chicago in the last month to tour the property. An announcement could come later this month at the Ryder Cup outside Minneapolis. Woods is an assistant captain for the U.S. team.

I don’t think an announcement at the Ryder Cup would make sense? Unless it goes along with some other Chicago-related announcement. And maybe if it’s early on the week? Otherwise, unless it’s related to the Ryder Cup or the PGA of America, I would think such a massive announcement would not be unveiled during such a big event in golf, the biennial matches pitting the U.S. against Europe (which the Americans have only won once this century). So, we’ll see about that (but hey, that little detail is how Teddy convinced his editor to let him cover the Ryder Cup! Can you believe they weren’t going to send him and he’s based in Chicago? Yeah, I know, football rules all, but STILL!)

The project envisions an 18-hole course, just an arms-length from the Barack Obama Presidential Center, that is challenging enough to host events like the PGA Tour’s BMW Championship, yet remains playable and fun for the average golfer and tourists.

Organizers also want it to be affordable. Jackson Park, a Chicago Park District course that was built in the 1890s and operates in the red, has a green fee under $30 for 18 holes. South Shore’s top fee is $20 for nine holes.

Keiser, an adviser on the project, hopes it will be walking-only, in part so players will be encouraged to take caddies, thus creating jobs and the potential to tie in college scholarships.

In addition, Rolfing wants to create a “short course” that would appeal to area youth and would allow adults to play mini-rounds early in the morning and late in the afternoon.

The remaining challenges is the financing, according to Rolfing. Well, it certainly wouldn’t hurt if Tiger donates some of his time and if just his name is attached to the project, it would attract many more benefactors. I guess time will tell and we will find out soon enough. Maybe in less than two weeks!


 

So that was your more believable/conceivable/whatever Tiger Woods rumor that broke on Thursday. Here’s the one that comes from a well-respected and trusted source in the industry. But still, I’m going to need something a little more concrete. At the same time, Tiger has so much money that I could see him wanting to give back and help out the industry and then making TaylorMade his pet project (he might have a lot more time on his hands in the somewhat near future). Thing is, I’ve never associated or heard Tiger and Taylormade in the same sentence? But I have only been around a very short period of time, reltaively speaking.

But, yeah, I can’t believe I missed most of the crazy news (or alleged reports) throughout the day, but I’m trying this new thing out and getting a little bit of a life away from just golf! I know, isn’t that weird?

As you’ve probably heard, Adidas, the parent company to TaylorMade, decided to sell off its golf businesses — which also include Adams, Ashworth and Adidas — at the end of last summer and the industry is doing so well that there have just been so many interested parties knocking on the door. Sorry, sarcasm. I seriously can’t believe the golf industry is doing *that* bad, when it seems like not long ago, TaylorMade-adidas was absolutely thriving and cleaning up in the biz.

With the businesses sitting on the selling block for over a year and little-to-no noise or interest from potential buyers, it was curious to see when someone would bite and it was always assumed it would be another club manufacturer. At the same time, they seem to be dropping like flies, with Nike announcing recently that it was dropping its club-making business, but would remain on the footwear and apparel side of the game.

Then, this happened Thursday afternoon:

Hmmmm….my Carlsbad sources have heard rumblings of such rumors in recent weeks, but I couldn’t pin down anything solid yet. Stay tuned.

*Update: A high-placed source at TaylorMade responded to my text message re: Tiger/TaylorMade: “Haha. Hilarious.”

For what its worth, I don’t think in the 5 years that I’ve known him he’s ever texted “Haha” to me in any context, even in other funny scenarios.