Woods’ Dubai project put on hold

Tiger Woods in front of a poster showing the planned development of the Tiger Woods Dubai community at a venue in Dubai.

DUBLIN, Ohio — Tiger Woods’ first golf course design project – unveiled with much fanfare a year ago in what was then a booming Dubai – has been derailed by the worst economic crisis since The Great Depression.

The Woods-designed Al Ruwaya Golf Course in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, will miss its scheduled opening of fall 2009 by at least six months, Woods said Friday. He made his comments at the Memorial Tournament, where he is competing.

With an almost endless array of ambitious real estate projects under way, Dubai was particularly vulnerable to the current fiscal meltdown. The global credit crunch and plummeting real estate prices have brought many projects in Dubai to a halt.

“No exception, they are feeling it as well,” Woods said.

The master plan – called Tiger Woods Dubai – included 100 villas, 75 mansions, 22 palaces and a 360,000-square-foot boutique hotel. It also is to feature a 139,000-square-foot clubhouse and a golf academy. The developer is Tatweer, a division of Dubai Holding, which is owned by the emirate and its ruler, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Woods said he visited the course a couple of months ago and learned of challenges facing his project.

“They were still up in the air,” Woods said of the decision to delay the opening. “But obviously the economy has changed since then.”

His course in Dubai had only three holes under construction when work was suspended.

“We’re making sure we get the holes completed — the holes we have,” he said.

The course in Dubai needs irrigation to keep the sand in place because of arid conditions and the wind, according to Woods. He said on one of his visits, the sweeping wind “changed the whole outline of one hole.”

Woods said Beau Welling, his chief architect at Tiger Woods Design, has continued to travel between Dubai and two other courses under construction in North Carolina (The Cliffs at High Carolina) and Mexico (Punta Brava).

As for his other course design projects, Woods said they are in various stages of permitting, but otherwise on schedule.

The Cliffs at High Carolina is expected to be completed in mid-2010, and the Mexico course with ocean views is scheduled to open late that year.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report

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