The story behind Michael Jordan’s ultra-private, ultra-exclusive personal golf course – CNN

Fri Sep 22 2023

Designed by Nichols Architects, Igor Reyes Reyes believes his job was made easier by an engaged client.

Grove XXIII by Nichols Architects

Grove XXIII by Nichols Architects

By , CNN

There’s one small corner of the world that Michael Jordan cherishes more than any other — his own personal haven of sporting bliss.

But it’s not in Chicago. In fact, there isn’t a basketball court or hoop in sight.

Even as he was staking his claim in the 1990s as the greatest player the NBA has ever seen, the Bulls icon was a regular guest on the golf course. These days, though, he hosts.

The Grove XXIII – a nod to his signature No. 23 jersey — is Jordan’s very own golf paradise, a private club tucked away on the outskirts of Hobe Sound, Florida. Ultra-exclusive, few have seen it, and even fewer have played it.

Taking a swing

Compared to Bobby Weed Golf Design, Nichols Architects had considerably less experience in golf courses, but it did have one key advantage in its efforts to beat other bids to build The Grove XXIII’s clubhouse.

Specializing in hospitality, residential, and commercial design, the firm had worked on the W South Beach in Miami — the favorite hotel of Jordan’s wife Yvette Prieto.

The team pulled no punches with its pitch to Jordan. “You’re not going to confuse this clubhouse with a clubhouse down the road or anything like that, and that’s what we’re selling you,” planning and design partner Igor Reyes told CNN of the pitching process, likening it to that depicted in the “Air” movie, where Nike must lure a rookie Jordan away from a deal with Adidas.

“You’ve really got to make an architectural iconic shape, and a shape that you could almost immediately feel was swinging across the landscape. Hopefully you can almost read the concept without anybody having to tell you,” Reyes said.

The deal clincher — outlined to Jordan in a pitch video — was that clubhouse shape, inspired by the smooth, “almost machine-like” perfection of a golf swing.

Grove XXIII Clubhouse GOLF SWING

An early concept of the swing-inspired clubhouse shape. Nichols Architects

Reyes said his team had heard of Jordan’s purported early struggles with his swing, and, in the video, set up a column grid to map the building’s structure onto Tiger Woods’ club trajectory. Jordan was captivated, and told the firm there and then that it would get the contract.

“The first time you walk into the room with him, you don’t want to get too close or anything like that, it was kind of an odd thing,” Reyes said. “But by the second or third meeting we were just talking to him like a ‘regular’ client with a huge amount of respect.

“There was a really a sense of, ‘This isn’t just a guy with a lot of money that wants to do something. This guy knows what he’s doing, he knows what he likes, and how to get to it.’”


Nichols Architects was determined to create an iconic design. Design by Nichols Architects / Photo by Mike Butler

Like Weed, Reyes believes his job was made easier by an engaged client.

“He was involved with a lot of the decisions … we didn’t change a color without him knowing,” Reyes said.

“We have had work with other celebrity people and they won’t talk to you, it’s ‘I just want this’ and sort of like, ‘get out of the way.’ But he realized there was a lot of creativity going on and he wanted to be a part of it.”