U. s. domination
▶ 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