Woods’ course developers reach settlement

Tiger Woods announces plans for The Cliffs at High Carolina during a 2007 press conference.

Tiger Woods announces plans for The Cliffs at High Carolina during a 2007 press conference.

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Chalk up one victory for Tiger Woods this year.

Construction on Woods’ first American golf course, The Cliffs at High Carolina near Asheville, N.C., is back in full swing after developers agreed to reduce the planned impact the layout would have on area trout streams by almost half the original design.

Woods said in a statement Thursday that new routing makes the course a tad shorter and some of the walks between greens and tees a little longer, but does not take away from his intent to have a walkable, mountain course with breathtaking views.

“High Carolina remains a truly amazing golf course,” Woods said. “I’m looking forward to getting back there to check on construction.”

The Southern Environmental Law Center, Western North Carolina Alliance and Trout Unlimited had challenged permits issued by North Carolina’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources. They charged that developers planned too much impact to trout streams without sufficient mitigation.

Attorney DJ Gerken with the Southern Environmental Law Center said The Cliffs quickly got in touch with the environmental groups to see how best to settle the dispute. The new design calls for 1,655 linear feet of impacts compared to 3,132 linear feet in the original design

Gerken said mountain construction involves steep slopes that require significant grading and the underground piping of streams in the way.

“There was a lot of back and forth,” Gerken said. “Eventually, The Cliffs came up with a creative solution.”

Woods’ PGA Tour season ended with the BMW Championships two weeks ago. He is scheduled to play for the U.S. team at the Ryder Cup matches in Wales next month.

Jim Anthony, founder and CEO of The Cliffs Communities, said he was initially disappointed in the challenge because of how hard his company worked with North Carolina state and local agencies to limit environmental impacts. Still, Anthony said they slowed down construction to discuss the issues.

The agreement also calls for increase protection of other area streams. The environmental groups agreed to drop their challenge to the Cliffs’ permits.

“We are pleased with the outcome and we applaud The Cliffs for their willingness to work hard to address our concerns,” said Julie Mayfield, executive director of the Western North Carolina Alliance. “They were committed to reaching an agreement and made significant changes to the golf course to do so.”

The Cliffs has resumed major construction on the course, scheduled to open in the fall of 2012. Course builder Medalist Golf, Inc., has begun clearing, grading and shaping.

Anthony said it was the willingness of Woods’ and his design team to work with area residents that made the agreement possible. “Their passion for the project and positive attitude helped create a win-win solution,” Anthony said.

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