"The courses I like are the ones where you have the option to play different shots."

tigerdubai_299x213.jpgSports Illustrated featured two classic only-SI-can-do-it features that made weeding through the usual mishagoss of player profile stuff worth the effort. If you love baseball, don't miss Tom Verducci's piece on umpiring for a day, and if you love golf, definitely check out John Garrity's Tiger 2.0 cover story.

Highlights from the Garrity piece:

But here is Tiger, elbows on the table, working me like a cold-call broker. His business goal, he says, is to get to "a place where my family can be financially secure."

Sheesh, and I thought J.D. Drew talking about job security for his family was a tad much after he opted out of 3 years and $33 million!

His course-design work will be "a partnership between me and the owner of the property; I'm trying to provide a product they'll be happy with." His brilliantly successful endorsement deal with Nike, a multiyear contract recently renewed for a reported $100 million plus, is about "providing products that consumers will enjoy." He sums up: "We are in the providing business."
I wonder, for an instant, if Tiger is trying to sell me a fixed-rate annuity.

Beautifully stated.

There is understandable curiosity about Tiger's foray into course design. Typically, a champion golfer either partners with an established golf architect—Arnold Palmer with Ed Seay, for example, or Ben Crenshaw with Bill Coore—or hires a staff of practiced landscape engineers and architects a la Jack Nicklaus, whose design company has produced 310 courses in 30 countries. Tiger would seem to be leaning toward the latter model (he took advantage of Nicklaus's generous offer to let Bell visit his North Palm Beach offices to study the golf course operation), but he turns vague when asked who will actually read the topographical maps and produce the construction drawings.

In L.A., Tiger had assured me, "I will not be hiring some guy to design a golf course. I'll be hands on and involved in it." He was more forthcoming about his design philosophy. "My tastes are toward the old and traditional. I'm a big fan of the Aussie-built courses in Melbourne, the sand-belt courses. I'm also a tremendous fan of some of the courses in our Northeast."

"I'm not one who thoroughly enjoys playing point B to point C to point D golf," he continued. "The courses I like are the ones where you have the option to play different shots. I enjoy working the ball on the ground and using different avenues." "Like Royal Liverpool?" I asked, naming the English course on which Tiger won the 2006 British Open using a 19th-century arsenal of low, scooting tee shots (played almost exclusively with irons and fairway metals) and ground-hugging approaches.

He smiled at the memory. "Liverpool this year and St. Andrews in 2000 are the only times I've seen the fairways faster than the greens. You hit a putt from the fairway, it was running one speed. It got to the green, the putt slowed down." His smile broadened. "That's not like most golf courses, but that's what I like to see. It fits my eye."

Now, Nicklaus has been criticized for building holes that fit his game. Will Tiger be questioned for building designs that fit his eye?