Tiger Woods' Debut Course Hosts Tour Event A Sneak Peek at What's in Store.
Tiger Woods’ Debut Course Hosts Tour Event A Sneak Peek at What’s in Store.

The PGA Tour is bringing the World Wide Technology Championship to the El Cardonal course at Diamante Cabo San Lucas this week. It is the first time that an event has been held there. The El Cardonal course, which usually backs up the Dunes course at the Mexican resort and is ranked 50th in Golf Digest’s list of the world’s 100 best courses, will get to play the lead role.

The Dunes course, which was designed by Mark and Davis Love III and their associate Paul Cowley in 2010, has a beautiful beach setting and lots of sand dunes that surround the holes. El Cardonal, on the other hand, has a special place in golf history as the first course that Tiger Woods and his TGR Design studio built. When it opened in 2014, El Cardonal was built in the uplands of the desert above its sister course. It has views of the Pacific Ocean and holes that run mostly north to south, where the main coastal winds are crossing.

This is the fifth hole at El Cardonal.

Thanks to the club

When Woods finished El Cardonal early in his work as an architect, it struck chords that he has continued to use in his later designs at Bluejack National in Texas and Payne’s Valley at Big Cedar Lodge in Missouri. Beau Welling was Woods’ lead designer at all three projects. Woods usually gives players a lot of room off the tee to find different ways to the hole and soft short-grass spots on the greens where they can miss shots. This makes all of his courses easy to play. Early Jack Nicklaus courses were made with PGA Tour players’ shot-making in mind, but Woods’ courses are nothing like those.

However, PGA Tour players will be playing on the course this week. Unless the wind is very strong, they should feel like they can attack at El Cardonal. Many of the greens are set diagonally to the tee shot, which will make drives go around sandy arroyos and fly bunkers.

Thanks to the club

The greens are different sizes, shapes, and orientations—some are heart-shaped or bent, while others are long and narrow. They also have small curves and waves that can make hole locations and multi-break lag putts difficult, which is an underrated part of the game where Woods was great. If a player misses the green, they can try a number of different shots off the fairway-cut surrounds, but most will probably choose to hit a higher, spinning ball off the sticky seaside paspalum grass.

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As you play, you’ll enjoy the fact that the land falls more than 200 feet from high to low. Seven of the holes go downhill, but they tend to have longer distances. The three par 4s that go uphill are shorter. The pros should be able to easily reach all five pars, even the sixth, which is 601 yards and goes uphill. Players may use short irons on the pair that goes downhill. Starting with a short par 5 that goes up and over an arroyo, a long par 4 that will probably play into the wind, and a wedge par 3 to a thin “island” green propped up above desert, the last five holes should be a show.

The beautiful par-4 17th hole plays dramatically from the highest point of the course, and then the last hole, a par-5, goes rapidly downhill. Like the 18th hole at Kapalua’s Plantation course (where the Sentry Tournament of Champions is held in Hawaii), this hole is playable, and long second shots that land on the putting surface off the slopes short-right of the green could lead to a winning eagle putt.

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