April 27, 2016

Bluejack National, Tiger’s first course design in U.S., opens

The grand opening of Bluejack National on Monday in Montgomery, Texas, was more than a celebration of Tiger Woods’ first course design in the United States.

It was also a welcome back party for Woods, who played five holes with his friend and Bluejack National ambassador Mark O’Meara. Woods, who is coming off a third back surgery, said they were the first holes he has played since competing in the Wyndham Championship last August.

“I’m definitely a little tired, but I feel pretty good,” Tiger said. “I haven’t been out here playing like this. You see the rust. It’s fun to be here.

“It’s fun to be at Bluejack and do something like this and to have the turnout like they did, as many people as we did and have as many families come out as we did. That’s what’s fun.”

Woods arrived at the new course in mid-afternoon where he was joined by O’Meara and NBC Sports/Golf Channel commentator and humorist David Feherty, who emceed the events.

Tiger and O’Meara chatted during a range session, walked and talked with fans as they played five holes, then did an entertaining question-and-answer session for the several hundred invited guests after dinner.

Despite recent flooding and rains in the Houston area, Bluejack National was in excellent condition. It is a big, sprawling layout with wide playing corridors, big greens and no rough. It features few forced carries and allows players multiple options, particularly around the greens where putting from well off the green is often the best option. There are 3,000-yard “Frank Tees” for beginners and kids, creating a course that’s multigenerational and fun for all skill levels. 

“What [design associate] Beau [Welling] and my staff have done is we’ve tried to bring back the openness of golf and capture that again,” Woods said. “We’re trying to keep it quick and dry.

“The members here don’t need to have this place bright green all the time, and everyone enjoys using the putter and hybrids around the greens.”

Given his extended absence from competition, there is growing anticipation about when Tiger will return to the PGA TOUR. He said he does not have a specific date in mind for his return, but he is optimistic about his progress.

“I haven’t set any date for when I’m playing again, which is frustrating to say,” Woods said. “But to be honest with you, that’s what I’ve had to do. I’ve had to go with that mindset.”

Tiger added he has made enormous progress since last December when he was in pain and sounded discouraged while hosting the Hero World Challenge.

“I couldn’t imagine then feeling like I do right now. Keep improving. Keep getting better. Keep making progress. And I’m doing that.

“It’s been a long road. To actually be able to play soccer with my kids again, to do something like this, to be able to live life, that’s what’s been nice. Five months ago I couldn’t. To be three months out of surgery and feel like that, it was tough.

“I still have a long way to go,” Tiger said. “I’m on the back side. I’m getting better, but I’m also getting closer to feeling better every day.”