By Art Stricklin
MONTGOMERY, Texas – While Tiger Woods has largely avoided Texas and the Southwest in his golf playing career, making the 2007 PGA Championship victory at Southern Hills his last playing appearance in Texas or Oklahoma, he has been more active showcasing his first U.S. golf course design just Northwest of Houston, titled Bluejack National.
The private par 72 course is scheduled to open this fall in the small Southeast Texas town of Montgomery. It was the site of an extensive media preview during the Shell Houston Open last week with key members of Woods’ team saying he could lure him to more visits to the area.
"We feel this is the future of Texas Golf and it will only continue to improve," said Bluejack President Casey Paulson who is helping to oversee the development along with Texas golf industry veteran Mike Abbott.
While the Texas Hill Country is known for rolling and scenic terrain, the Houston-area by the Gulf of Mexico coast is more flat and marsh land.
Longtime Tiger Woods friend and president of Tiger Woods Design Byron Bell said both he and Woods were surprised to find the rolling terrain and undulation changes that Bluejack National was on, the former site of Blaketree National golf course in the 1990s.
"I’ve been in Texas a lot for business and Tiger or I never thought Houston was very good land for golf.
"I first saw this course in 2010 and I never knew a course in Houston could have this many elevation changes or interesting topography," added Bell. "It’s come together really fast over the last several months and it’s really encouraging to see it this far along.
"Tiger feeds off the old style courses and this is a great site for that. This is something he’s wanted to do for a long time. This is a good first (American) effort for Tiger, whose goal is to be known as a great architect,"
Masters Champion Mark O’Meara, who now plays on the Champions Tour, will serve as the course ambassador, carry a Bluejack logo on his golf bag and also represent the course in Texas and nationwide.
"The first time I came out here, I couldn’t believe the beauty of this site and it’s a thrill to see where it’s come to," he said.
Bell said after the opening of Woods’ first course in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, Diamante, and his new effort at Bluejack, the search is currently on for new American sites for future Wood courses.
We have one in China that a developer just announced and one in Dubai, but we would certainly like another one here (in America). This is great land for a golf course and that is what we are always looking for."
Tucson native Rich Barcelo, a former PGA Tour player and teacher, was recently introduced as head golf professional and will oversee the golf operations for the par 72 course which will play 7,475 yards from the back tees.
It’s currently scheduled to open in November of this year with memberships and homesite sales underway along with preview visits to see one of Texas’ and the Southwest’s most anticipated new course in year.
"I think this could be one of the last great Texas course and I glad to be a part of it," said Mike Abbott, President of Beacon Land Development which is overseeing the development.
For additional information, on Woods’ Bluejack Texas layout, go to www.bluejacknational.com