U. s. dom­i­na­tion

Golf Digest Middle East - - The Golf Life -

▶ The U.S. team Is 9-1-1 In the Pres­i­dents Cup, win­ning the past six com­pe­ti­tions af­ter a tie in 2003: 1994 U.S. 20, In­ter­na­tional 12 Robert Trent Jones G.C. 1996 U.S. 16½, In­ter­na­tional 15½ Robert Trent Jones G.C. 1998 In­ter­na­tional 20½, U.S. 11½ Royal Mel­bourne G.C. 2000 U.S. 21½, In­ter­na­tional 10½ Robert Trent Jones G.C. 2003 U.S. 17, In­ter­na­tional 17 The Links At Fan­court (S. Africa) 2005 U.S. 18½, In­ter­na­tional 15½ Robert Trent Jones G.C. 2007 U.S. 19½, In­ter­na­tional 14½ Royal Mon­treal G.C. 2009 U.S. 19½, In­ter­na­tional 14½ Hard­ing Park 2011 U.S. 19, In­ter­na­tional 15 Royal Mel­bourne G.C. 2013 U.S. 18½, In­ter­na­tional 15½ Muir­field Vil­lage G.C. 2015 U.S. 15½, In­ter­na­tional 14½ Jack Nick­laus G.C. (South Korea)

Some par­tic­i­pants launched into com­edy rou­tines. “Maybe Tom did this course be­fore his eye surgery,” said Tiger Woods.

“They ru­ined a per­fectly good land­fill,” said one uniden­ti­fied cad­die, chan­nel­ing Dave Hill’s cri­tique of Hazel­tine Na­tional at the 1970 U.S. Open.

The nadir was reached a few years later, when our sis­ter pub­li­ca­tion, Golf World, re­leased the re­sults of a sur­vey of anony­mous tour pros, rank­ing the cour­ses they’d played that year. Lib­erty Na­tional was the con­sen­sus pick for Least Fa­vorite, golfdi­gest. com a po­si­tion re­la­beled as Worst Course on Tour.

Iron­i­cally, Cupp, who died last year, and Kite con­sid­ered Lib­erty Na­tional one of their great­est achieve­ments. Kite had first been alerted to the site in 1992, shortly af­ter he’d won the U.S. Open at Peb­ble Beach. He brought in Cupp, with whom he’d been in­volved in pre­vi­ous de­signs, to view the prop­erty with him. What they saw was dread­ful. Kite de­scribed it as “flat as a table. Ugly, abused, mis­treated.”

It had been a har­bour-side oil ter­mi­nal for nearly a cen­tury, the ground in­fil­trated with petroleum, lead, beryl­lium and toxic PCBs. In the 1950s, it had served as an am­mu­ni­tion de­pot. “We were pretty sure any trav­esty known to man was on this prop­erty,” Cupp said.

The cost of cleanup was picked up by tax­pay­ers, and the devel­oper would be al­lowed to build a course atop the site at its own ex­pense, un­der strict reg­u­la­tions. In re­cent years, Lib­erty Na­tional’s price tag has been re­ported as $250 mil­lion. About 90 per­cent of that fig­ure were Su­per­fund cleanup costs.

Af­ter a dozen years of reg­u­la­tory is­sues, the course was fi­nally con­structed, built like a gi­ant layer cake, cap­ping the site first with im­per­vi­ous fab­ric and clay, then soil, then sand, con­tour­ing the holes to make cer­tain no pipe or tree root would ever pierce the con­tam­i­na­tion cap. Six mil­lion cu­bic yards of earth and sand were de­liv­ered, 200 dump trucks per day for two years. sep­tem­ber 2017

The lay­out opened in 2006. “Ev­ery­thing is 100 per­cent cre­ated,” Kite said at the time. “The big thing in golf-course de­sign right now is min­i­mal­ist de­sign. This is light-years on the other side of the spec­trum.”

Kite and Cupp were proud of their con­cept. Holes close to the har­bour are links-like, with tall, wavy fes­cue grasses edg­ing twist­ing bent­grass fair­ways. Away from the shore­line, the mo­tif changes to that of Cen­tral Park, with lush, man­i­cured rough and 5,000 fully grown trans­planted oaks, maples and ev­er­greens. One par-3 green they’d fash­ioned in the man­ner of the tricky third green at Au­gusta Na­tional; an­other af­ter a Don­ald Ross green at Pine­hurst. They di­rected the long­est holes into the wind, to keep them play­ing long. Two holes were de­lib­er­ately aligned with the Statue of Lib­erty, just off­shore. It can also be seen from sev­eral other holes.

They were not pleased when Golf World anointed it Worst Course on Tour. Nor was the owner, Paul Fire­man (of Ree­bok fame and for­tune), or the PGA Tour, which had con­tracted for an­other Bar­clays in 2013. So in 2010, the course was re­mod­eled by a PGA Tour De­sign Ser­vices team headed by ar­chi­tect Steve Wen­zloff.

The me­dia took that as af­fir­ma­tion of their pre­vi­ous con­dem­na­tions and glee­fully re­ported that 74 changes had been made to Lib­erty Na­tional’s de­sign. This was tech­ni­cally true, but most of the changes were in­signif­i­cant: a green­side knob less­ened, a cart­path moved, a fair­way mow­ing line re-con­toured. Three greens were to­tally re­built to lessen sever­ity of slopes, and nine oth­ers had some con­tours soft­ened. Two new fair­way bunkers were added and six elim­i­nated; hardly the stuff of whole­sale re­design.

Kite and Cupp were con­sulted be­fore the ren­o­va­tion, of­fered their in­put, and fully par­tic­i­pated. Wen­zloff re­ports that Cupp even han­dled all the con­struc­tion draw­ings.

Although not widely re­ported, most play­ers gave favourable re­views of the “new and im­proved” Lib­erty Na­tional at the 2013 Bar­clays, calling it far more re­cep­tive, mainly be­cause, though the tall fes­cue roughs re­mained, the pri­mary rough of thick blue­grass was mowed short, al­low­ing play­ers to get a club on the ball in­stead of hack­ing it out. “The teeth will still be in it,” Wen­zloff said, “but the teeth won’t sink as deep into your skin.” ith the PGA Tour again run­ning the show for the Pres­i­dents Cup Sept. 28- Oct. 1, ex­pect Lib­erty Na­tional’s setup to mir­ror that used at The Bar­clays four years ago, with one ma­jor ex­cep­tion. The rout­ing will be al­tered, a process that seems de rigueur for mod­ern-day pro­fes­sional match-play events, from

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