Monday, August 31, 2009

The New Yankee Stadium Of Golf

Since Matt brought the topic up before, here is an interesting (albeit pretty one-sided) article I saw about the course they played the Barclays' Championship at, Liberty National:
If you haven't heard about Liberty National, it's the world's most expensive grassy view lot -- a former oil tank farm that had all the visual appeal of a collapsing tenement building, even the rats avoided it. But it was located just across the water from the southern tip of Manhattan, roughly 1,000 yards from the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

So a rich guy bought it and built a private golf course that has generated more conversation, commentary and criticism than a penal U.S. Open track. As one player sarcastically pointed out, it's probably no accident Lady Liberty faces the other direction.
What follows is a bunch of tour pros trashing the place, similar to what we heard from some players about the New Yankee Stadium. Similarly, Liberty National cost far more than other courses to construct ($250M) and demands a $500,000 membership initiation fee before annual dues are factored in, which I'm going to blindly guess are north of $50,000. However, it's only a short private shuttle-boat ride from downtown Manhattan which offers a level convenience which is unmatched in NYC area golf.

The owner, Paul Fireman freely admits that the course as a poor investment, and the designer Tom Kite readily acknowledges that due to the way the course was constructed, nothing is natural about it. For 30 years, they played the tournament at historic Westchester Country Club and no such kvetching was heard. Sound familiar?

Sure, most of the bitching from the players was unwarranted. And all of it was unnecessary, if you ask Vijay Singh:
"One who doesn't worry about what the golf course is, and just plays one shot at a time," Singh said. "You go out there and start criticizing the golf course, then you might as well not show up."
The great thing about golf, like baseball, is that everyone plays under the same conditions. So when it all shakes out, regardless of the difficulty or quirkiness of the place you are competing, the playing field is level.

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