Tiger Woods’ latest project? Designing a course for MLB star Mike Trout
The three-time American League Most Valuable Player has hired Woods to design Trout National — The Reserve, a private course in the southern New Jersey city of Vineland, where Trout was born and close to where he now lives. The course, news of which was first reported by Sports Illustrated, is slated to open in 2025.
“It’s pretty incredible having a chance to own your own golf course,” Trout told SI. “Getting Tiger to design it is crazy. I you had told me before that this would happen one day, I would have said you are crazy. It’s more than I ever thought possible.”
Trout, who teased word of the project in a tweet Monday morning, said that he and his wife, Jessica, who is also a golfer and a New Jersey native, first discussed the idea of building a course just prior to the pandemic, in early 2020.
“We sat down and said, ‘Look, if an opportunity comes up, it would be a great thing to do. I want to own a course,’” Trout said. “We were close to owning a course when Covid-19 hit. A lot of stuff wasn’t going our way, so we backed out of the deal. We just said, ‘If an opportunity comes down the road, we’ll explore it.’”
Trout said that opportunity arose a year or two later when he saw drone footage “of somebody attempting to build a couple of holes in Vineland while courses were shut down.”
“I sent (the footage) to my brother, Tyler and said, ‘Can you look into this for me?’” Trout said.
Soon, with help from a local developer, John Ruga, who is also involved with the project, Trout had a site, on a rumpled swatch of land, roughly 45 minutes south of Philadelphia, that formerly served as a silica sand mine. As for his choice of architect, Trout said his wish list started and ended with Woods and his firm, TGR Design.
“My favorite golfer growing up obviously was Tiger,” Trout said. “I thought it would be pretty cool to reach out. We reached out, got a positive vibe when we mentioned it and got his team to the site. Once Tiger’s team came down to the site, they loved it. It’s surreal. I mean, it’s friggin’ Tiger.”
In a press release, Woods said: “I’ve always watched Mike on the diamond, so when an opportunity arose to work with him on Trout National — The Reserve, I couldn’t pass it up.”
Trout, who said he plays to a “7 or 8” handicap index, was introduced to golf when he was in high school through driving-range outings with his father, Jeff. As in baseball, he is a long-ball hitter, with drives that he said average 330 to 360 yards.
“It depends on the moment,” Trout said. “I try to dial it down to keep it a little straighter.”
Like many elite athletes who are drawn to golf, Trout said he enjoys the game as a both a competitive outlet and a relaxing escape.
“For me, it’s like anything else I do. I want to be the best, whatever it takes” Trout said. “If it means going to the range or looking at video, I will. I’m not going crazy with it. Baseball always is my No. 1 priority. I just enjoy golf. It’s a great mental getaway from the game.”
Though full details of the design have yet to be nailed down, the release said that the course will take advantage of the site’s topography, “with some holes meandering through deciduous and evergreen forest and others draped over rolling farmland.” Trout told SI that he expects the course to have an island-green par-3 with multiple tees, known as ‘Mike’s Choice.’
Trout is not the first icon from another sport to build his own course. In 2019, basketball legend Michael Jordan cut the ribbon on the Grove XXIII, a hideaway in Florida with a small membership that includes Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler. Like Jordan’s course, Trout’s will be private and reflect its owners preferences.
“Obviously, it’s not fully done,” Trout said. “But when I go to a course, I hate waiting. I would rather play a two-and-a-half, three-hour round. And whatever you need, whatever comes to mind, that is going to be there for you. And a lot of coll stuff will be happening in the clubhouse. I feel like when you go into this golf course, when you pull into the front gate, you want to be excited about just enjoying your day.”
In addition to a practice range, a short-game area and a clubhouse, Trout National will have amenities, including a restaurant, lodging and a wedding chapel, that may be accessible to the public. That is still to be determined.
“It’s pretty incredible having a chance to own your own golf course,” Trout said. “And partnering with good friends and family and getting Tiger to design it is amazing.”