Dylan Wu gets sneak peek at Michael Jordan’s new course
March 23, 2021
By Nick Parker, PGATOUR.COM
- March 23, 2021
- Dylan Wu sits at No. 17 on the Korn Ferry Tour Points Standings. (Ben Jared/PGA TOUR)
Thanks to former World No. 1 and fellow Northwestern alum Luke Donald, Dylan Wu recently got a rare look at Michael Jordan’s new course the Grove XXIII. From everything from the tee markers with six rings to the impressive speed of the carts to the caddies operating as forecaddies on electric scooters, Wu couldn’t help but be a fan of what he saw.
“It’s super cool. It feels like you’re not in Florida. It feels like you’re in the Midwest with the fescue, but the vibe is just amazing. It’s uncompared to. The clubhouse is super modern and nice, and you see the two Xs and the three Is. You just see hints of MJ everywhere like the tee boxes all had six rings on them. The yardage numbers would be on the tee markers, and they were basically six rings.”
While the food delivery drones at the Grove XXIII may have set golf twitter a blaze earlier this year, it was the practice facility, which seems to be designed specifically for the pros, that Wu left most enamored with.
“The practice facility there is amazing,” Wu said. “They do a thing where they’ll have a 70-yard shot to a flag on the green, but they design that green to be the exact same size as what the PGA TOUR average is from that distance so like 15 feet for a 100-yard shot.”
As for the course design, well, Wu didn’t find it too difficult and heard the open layout might have been by design from His Airness.
“I wouldn’t say the course is super tough. Luke was telling me about games he plays in. MJ loves to bet with pros out there, there’s like five or six PGA TOUR pros that are members, and Luke said it’s really hard to beat MJ out there because it’s hard to lose a golf ball off the tee there and the greens are pretty big,” Wu said. “There’s a lot of run off areas where you can putt from. So, if you’re giving MJ 10 shots a round, he can scrape it around. Luke was basically saying it’s hard to beat MJ out there sometimes versus somewhere like the Bears Club that is a lot more difficult off the tee.”
The lack of lost balls fits the incredible speed of play theme that Wu witnessed throughout. It shouldn’t come as a surprise considering Jordan’s reason for building the course was to create a place where he could build a faster round, but Wu said everything in the experience was built around being able to play quickly. The golf carts went “30 to 35 miles per hour,” the caddies drove ahead on electric scooters, and the food is delivered to you on the course. The result? Wu said his foursome played a three-hour round.
“The vibe was just really chill. There were no tee times, and every cart has Bluetooth and connects to your phone to play music. There’s no dress code or anything,” Wu said. “It’s just a really cool one-of-a-kind club. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see MJ when we were there, but it was super fun. I really enjoyed it.”
The round was put together by his former Northwestern coach Pat Goss, who knew that Wu was going to be down in the Hobe Sound, Fla., area to meet with his new coach Jeff Smith. Wu had been working with a coach out of Canada, who he’d seen great progress early last year with, but the challenges of the pandemic had forced all their instruction to be on Facetime or through videos. Wu felt like he needed that in-person instruction, so his coach suggested Smith, who coaches Viktor Hovland, Aaron Wise and the Korn Ferry Tour’s Brandon Wu, because of their similar philosophies.
“I’m at a critical point this year where I want to get to the PGA TOUR this fall, and I felt like my ball striking was really good last season at the beginning and then kind of tapered at the end,” Wu said. “And I just want to get back to a level of golf that I know I’m capable of.”
Wu currently sits No. 17 on the Korn Ferry Tour Points Standings after opening the 2020-21 season with top-25s in nine of his first 16 starts, including three top-fives, before missed cuts in seven of his last eight starts prior to his last start. With three weeks between events, he went to see Smith in advance of playing in Lafayette, and he has already started to see the progress with a T27 at last week’s Chitimacha Louisiana Open presented by MISTRAS – his best finish since August.
“I’ve always admired the guys [Smith] teaches. They’re young guys I know, and he has a lot of good ball strikers,” Wu said. “He’s a little more scientific than most, but I’m more of a player that likes to know. I’m not a player that can just go ahead and hit it right away. I have to have a thought. We worked on a lot of backswing stuff. I’m slowly getting more and more comfortable with what we’re working on. I’ve seen improvements. Of course, when you’re working on some things, it can take a little time, but I’m just trusting it. I know in the long term it’s going to help a lot.”
With only 18 events separating Wu from one of the 25 PGA TOUR cards set to be given out in August for this unique wraparound season, Wu knows it’s essentially win and you’re in when it for players currently sitting inside the top 25.
“I’m just hungry to play well. Just being so close to getting a PGA TOUR card last year and having COVID hit, I’m still in a great position. My goals haven’t changed at all. I know the past six months I haven’t played as good as I’d like to, but any week can change your career,” Wu said. “If you win, you’re guaranteed the card, and I think if you get a card after these two years, it’d be almost more meaningful because of all the work you had to put in.”