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Tiger Woods, golf course designer

For the time being, the visual of Tiger Woods in work boots, slogging through the slop and plotting out the next great golf course does not quite come into focus. Sitting in boardrooms negotiating deals, hearing how some new developer has an idea for a golf course … say it ain't so, Tiger.

Well, it really isn't. Not quite.

Tiger Woods is in the golf course design business, and we are reminded of that milestone as he plays in this week's Dubai Desert Classic, a European Tour event where he is defending champion. Coincidentally, Tiger Woods, who announced in November that he was starting his own design company, accepted his first design contract for a new course to be built in Dubai. He will most certainly make a site visit this week.

But it would be foolish to think that Tiger Woods is considering a new career. The way he played on Sunday in his season-opening event at the Buick Invitational should be proof enough that Tiger might be better than ever, with plenty more to come.

And his own comments suggest that he will keep his sights on the golf record book, namely Jack Nicklaus' 18 professional major championships, a number that, with Tiger Woods at 12, is now plainly in view.

"I'm only entering one right now," Woods said about his golf course design contracts. "You take one at a time. I'll do this one and see how it goes. And then if it's something I feel I can handle more, then we'll do more. If I can't, if I can only do one, then one it is.

"But the main thing is I do it with the same passion, same intensity I do anything else. That's just kind of how I am. But if I can't give it my all, there's really no sense in doing it."

So figure this is a toe testing the water to see just how quickly Woods wants to jump into this new venture.

It certainly is not surprising. Name golfers of varying skill levels have all jumped into the design field: Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Greg Norman and Tom Watson are just a few of the legends who have fared quite well at golf course architecture.

Among those still competing, Ernie Els, Davis Love III and Tom Lehman come to mind as players who have gotten into the business. Phil Mickelson recently announced he had joined them and already has several projects lined up. All in some way or another have expressed the satisfaction that comes with leaving a different kind of legacy in golf.

So why wouldn't the game's best player want to take part?

Certainly his experience of having played golf all around the world will aid him and give him ideas. His name will easily attract clients, which should allow him to charge top dollar for his designs while also hiring the necessary personnel with the proper expertise to launch this business.

You can bet that Woods will want to do this right.

And if it seems a bit early for him to be pondering such a move, all you have to do is look to Nicklaus, whose first major design project in collaboration with Pete Dye was Harbour Town Golf Links in South Carolina, home to the MCI Heritage. It opened in 1969. Nicklaus was just 29.

Since then, he has gone on to design more than 250 courses, with his own company handling more than 300 in total. Whether Woods ever approaches that kind of number -- or if he even wants to -- remains to be seen.

But for now, it's safe to assume that his main passion will be dismantling courses, not designing them.

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