Tiger Woods partners with Cobbs Creek for course renovations

Tiger Woods, through his charity and golf course design firm, is partnering with the Cobbs Creek Foundation to bring educational programming and a new short course to the historic Cobbs Creek Golf Course, which has been undergoing a sometimes controversial $65 million renovation of its 340-acre property.

“I’m excited to work with the Cobbs Creek Foundation and the Philadelphia community on this special project that combines my passions, golf and supporting youth through education,” Woods said in a press release. “Through the campus, we will provide meaningful education opportunities for local youth while expanding access to the game I love.”

Cobbs Creek, the 18-hole, city-owned course in West Philadelphia, was famously home to Charlie Sifford, who endured racism before, during, and after becoming the first Black player to earn playing privileges on the professional tour.

Woods, whose 15 major championships are second-most all-time on the PGA Tour, has often cited Sifford as an inspiration and referred to him as his “grandfather.”

At the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Woods said Sifford, who later died in 2015 at age 92, “paved the way for a lot of us to be where we’re at. I know my dad probably wouldn’t have picked up the game if it wasn’t for what Charlie did.”

» READ MORE: Golf pioneer Charlie Sifford, former Philly resident, dies at 92

Woods’ charity, TGR Foundation, hopes to open doors for local youngsters through its TGR Learning Lab.

The 30,000-square-foot facility will aim to provide education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, as well as college prep and “career readiness” through year-round programming, while Woods’ design firm, TGR Design, will create and develop a “short course.” Though the number of holes has yet to be determined, programming is expected to be available for golfers of all ages and abilities.

“It’s a big thing for my kids, especially,” said Boys’ Latin High School golf coach Zach Paris in a phone interview. “They’ll have more access and exposure to golf, especially because of a name like Tiger Woods because a lot of our guys look up to him.”

Last year, Paris, 27, started a Public League golf program at the West Philly charter school. Paris also has several golfers enrolled in internships with the Cobbs Creek Foundation, the nonprofit overseeing the renovation.

“We are honored to be working with TGR Foundation to create new opportunities for local youth to learn, grow and thrive,” said Chris Maguire, chairman of the Cobbs Creek Foundation, in a press release. “Together we will celebrate this course’s historic past and create a bold and bright future for the city of Philadelphia.”

When it opened in 1916, Cobbs Creek was known for its inclusivity, allowing all players decades before other courses and well before the PGA welcomed people of color.

Flooding and a lack of funds to address structural and safety concerns caused the course to close in 2020. A fire had also destroyed its clubhouse in 2016.

“This is an exciting day for the city and for all of us here at the Cobbs Creek Foundation,” said Jeff Shanahan, president of the Cobbs Creek Foundation, in a press statement. “This is about using golf as a vehicle to revitalize not only this course, but the community around it through access to education. We thank TGR Foundation for partnering with us in the mission to make the new Cobbs Creek the best it can be for the youth of Philadelphia.”

The current renovation has also had to clear several hurdles, some of which have angered local residents.

Last month, Philadelphia City Council unanimously approved a controversial ordinance that exempted the renovations from having to adhere to a city environmental law.

Following pushback, Councilmember Curtis Jones Jr., who had introduced it, amended the ordinance, making the exemption temporary until 2024, the year the course is expected to open.

Until that day, Paris says he and his golfers will be waiting patiently.

“There’s no golf course close to us until Cobbs Creek opens,” Paris said. “As soon as it opens, we’ll have a course to play at, jobs for our kids, places for them to study. Everything there is basically going to be utilized by our kids daily.”

» READ MORE: Boys’ Latin High School brings golf — and the doors it can open — to West Philly: ‘It’s a game of perseverance’

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