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Tiger's Golf Course Still on Track
email this pageprint this pageemail usSandra Dibble - San Diego Union-Tribune
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February 07, 2010

Punta Brava sales team member Ryan Osterdorf teed off at what would be the location of the golf course’s 10th tee. (John Gibbins/Union-Tribune)
Punta Brava developers expect to break ground this year.

Tiger Woods has been on leave from professional golf, but his widely reported personal problems are not the reason for delays in launching a luxury development outside Ensenada where he is designing a golf course, say promoters and government officials with knowledge of the project.

Developers of Punta Brava, located on a peninsula about 65 miles south of San Diego, say the permitting process has moved more slowly than they expected, but they count on breaking ground this year and opening in 2012.

Developers say they have maintained their close working relationship with Woods, who has not said when he will resume golfing professionally.

“No matter what, Tiger Woods is the best golfer in the world, and there is nobody else that we would rather have design our golf course than the best golfer in the world,” said Brian Tucker, founder and principal of Punta Brava and a vice president of The Flagship Group, the project’s development company.

When Punta Brava was announced Oct. 7, 2008, “the world was a different place,” Tucker said. While the economic downturn has brought coastal real estate development in Baja California to a virtual standstill, Tucker said Punta Brava is moving forward. Since the launching, 167 prospective buyers have been flown down to tour the site, he said, and have shown enthusiasm for the project.

Sales won’t begin until next February, said Susan Wise, spokeswoman for The Flagship Group.

“We’re not selling 600 units of condos,” Tucker said. “This is to be one of the singular golf clubs in the world.”

With views of the ocean at every tee or green, the Tiger Woods golf course is the centerpiece of the development planned at the tip of the Punta Banda peninsula overlooking Todos Santos Bay. The project includes 120 units, with prices starting at $3 million for a lot and $3.5 million for a condominium, according to information released at the project’s unveiling.

Punta Brava’s financial backer is Red McCombs, co-founder of Clear Channel Communications and former owner of the San Antonio Spurs, the Denver Nuggets and Minnesota Vikings. McCombs is a principal of The Flagship Group, headed by the Austin-based developer Brady Oman. The project’s estimated cost is $100 million.

Construction was scheduled to begin in early 2009 and be completed in 2010, according to the Tiger Woods Design Web site. The site lists Punta Brava as one of three designed by Woods; the others are in North Carolina and Dubai.

Baja California Tourism Secretary Oscar Escobedo Carignan said the project is an important step in projecting the state as a “sand and sea” destination, a term for oceanfront resorts that feature natural beauty. While Punta Brava would have no beaches, it is a dramatic natural setting with views of the ocean on three sides.

The developers say they are taking care to minimize the project’s environmental impact. A group of opponents to the project, the Viva Punta Banda Coalition, says the development threatens one of the few remaining areas of marine coastal sage scrub in Baja California and will require large amounts of water in an area where water supplies are scarce. The opponents say the project’s desalination plant will discharge brine sludge into the ocean, threatening marine ecosystems.

Tucker said that it has taken “way longer” than expected to get permits. The proposal passed a key hurdle late last year when Mexico’s Environmental Ministry gave a green light to the project, said Escobedo, the tourism secretary.

The area still needs a land-use change to allow for a tourist development. Linda Salazar, an official with Ensenada’s Urban Administration Secretariat, said federal environmental officials are expected to act in the next two weeks.

Another hurdle that the project must clear is a detailed review by Mexico’s National Institute for Anthropology and History, or INAH. Archaeologists familiar with the region say the site holds important remains of groups from as far back as 10,000 years ago.

INAH conducted a preliminary study last year, but needs to conduct a more extensive review before the project can move forward, according to the institute’s Baja California office. The study would be paid by the developer, but conducted by INAH.

Julia Bendimez, INAH’s director in Baja California, said the institute is prepared to conduct its review of the archaeological sites on the property, an area known as La Lobera.

“The salvage effort will begin when the company needs it,” Bendimez said.

Sandra Dibble: sandra.dibble(at)

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