11 things to know about this week’s Tiger Woods-designed PGA Tour stop
It’s rare for a player who isn’t in the field to get headline billing at a PGA Tour event. But, like Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus before him, Tiger Woods is a legend who has gotten into the golf architecture business. And this week, for the first time, a Tour event is taking place on one of his courses.
On Tuesday, Woods was on the grounds of El Cardonal at Diamante, in Cabo San Lucas, site of the 2023 World Wide Technology Championship, and the spotlight was squarely on him. But let’s shift the focus from Woods to his work. With the tournament set to begin on Thursday, here are 11 things to know about El Cardonal.
It’s the first course Tiger finished
Woods had other projects in the works before he and his team broke ground in Cabo. But El Cardonal was the first to welcome play, with Tiger himself striking a ceremonial opening tee shot at the ribbon cutting in 2014.
It’s open to the public
More specifically, to guests of the on-site Hard Rock and Nobu hotels, which set aside limited tee times for resort play.
The name was inspired by Tiger’s alma mater
As in Stanford University, where Woods competed as a Cardinal for two years, winning a school record-tying 11 tournaments, including eight wins in 13 starts in 1996.
It was meant to be forgiving
By his own account, when the course was being conceived, Woods had in mind his pro-am partners more than he did his peers. He didn’t want it to be overly penal. True to that intent, landing areas at El Cardonal are wide. Naturally, the course gets tougher from the tips, but at 7,452 yards, in warm and firm conditions, with lots of wiggle room off the tee — let’s just say it won’t be Oakmont. Expect the scoreboard to bleed red.
The bunkering draws on Tiger’s California roots
The flash-faced, paw-print bunkering at El Cardonal was influenced by courses Woods knows well, most notably the George Thomas designs at Riviera and Stanford University. The firm turf and ground-game options have roots in Tiger’s fondness for Australian Sandbelt golf.
There’s good potential for late-stage pyrotechnics
The finishing hole is a risk-reward, downhill par-5 that is gettable in two for every player in the field. Don’t be surprised if the winner is decided when a final eagle lands.
It’s part of a larger golf development
El Cardonal is the second course at Diamante, which first caught the attention of architecture buffs in 2009, with the opening of the highly regarded Dunes Course, by Davis Love III. As its name suggests, the Dunes winds through a sandy coastal landscape; El Cardonal sits farther inland, at higher elevation, and offers water views from all 18 holes.
The pro shop is a Tiger shrine
If you can’t beat him, dress like him. Shoes. Shirts. Caps. Windbreakers. And more. There’s not much that you can’t find here in the way of Woods and Nike-themed merch.
Tacos and tequila!
The pros won’t be downing margaritas at the turn. But fans might find them hard to resit. Like most of the top properties in Cabo, El Cardonal serves first-rate tacos and tequila cocktails, both on and off the course.
This week is not a one-off
Under its current deal with the Tour, El Cardonal is slated to host this event for the next five years.
Tiger’s not done at Diamante
As play gets underway this week, work continues on Woods’ second project at Diamante: The Legacy, a private club with an invitation-only membership that has already drawn comparisons to Shadow Creek in Las Vegas. It is scheduled to open in the fall of 2024.