The first domestic design from Tiger Woods and his associates, Bluejack National is an ambitious high-end private club facility located an hour or so from downtown Houston. The property was once the home of the Blaketree National golf course, which was originally routed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw but largely built by the oil tycoon client himself. By all accounts the finishing was not well done and the original project was a financial disaster. When the Bluejack National team purchased the site and decided to create an integrated residential development they approached Tiger Woods and essentially started the routing and design process again.
What appeals about Bluejack is the site, which is unusually undulating for this part of Texas and blessed with a really appealing mix of pine and hardwood. There is an unmistakable Augusta National feel to the place. Woods and his designer Beau Welling deserve credit for fostering this sense through some of the design decisions made. These include the single height cut of turf across the property, the thinning of treed areas to enable balls to be found and recovery shots played and, crucially, a sparse design that emphasizes strategy and short game options around the greens. This combination, along with generously proportioned landing areas, makes for speedy golf and provides good players and rank amateurs alike with an equal dose of fun and challenge.
Among the feature holes are the left bending par five 2nd, a tribute to the same hole at Augusta with its bunkering and winged green complex, the crest-top par three 3rd and the broad par four 4th, with a solitary tree complicating approach play. Best on the back include the short, angled 12th and nicely rolling 14th. The closing holes returning to the clubhouse precinct also work reasonably well.
While one assumes that over time Tiger Woods will aim to elevate the standard of his green surrounds and general shaping, for a first up parkland project this is very good. Bluejack National is certainly a class above his disappointing Diamante course in Mexico, and succeeds in fulfilling a likely brief to create an interesting, challenging members layout that golfers will enjoy playing on a regular basis.
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