Thursday, August 27, 2009
(Barclays) Liberty National and the FedEx
Am I a fan of the FedEx Cup? Naw, I think it's silly because it's not a real playoff. In a real playoff everyone starts anew, that's the whole point. Until they fix that, it's going to be second rate. I also don't think that golf lends itself to "Playoffs" after a "Season" very well. That said, we have one of the more interesting experiments in golf to watch on the television this week. I'll tip my hand and say I really really liked and even more respected this golf course. These who know me will now be a little puzzled.
What's must see Golf on TV is The Golf Course. It is spectacular and will give the pros fits. They won't know what to think. American Professionals often say that they most respect water as the penalty is so exact - do or die. I hope that they show on TV enough of the fellows not on their game this week.
Par 3 Fourth
Liberty National and Bayonne Golf Club have come into being at more or less the same time. Bayonne has garnered comments such as completely artificial and completely engaging. A bit of Ireland in New Jersey. A great links-style course, America's best Faux Links. Stuff like that. Liberty National has been fairly summarily dismissed by the so-called cognoscenti, (the gca Kool-Aiders) and many raters. I have to say that I have played both and gave each a thorough going over in the architectural analysis department. Liberty National was built to be hard, very hard. It truly was built to test the world's most skilled professional players like no other course. Paul Firestone of Reebok spent maybe $165 Million on this course, perhaps the most expensive course when it was finished. I played it with a very veteran GolfWeek Rater with over a thousand courses under his belt and my wife on a very hot, very steamy day at 6500 yards and I want no part of it at 7400 yards as it was tough enough for me at 6500. It is indeed very hard and penal but it is very interesting.
Tee shot on five from start of hazard
Just to tell a little more than I usually do, our professional host asked the usual "How did you like the course"? And I very directly said "I liked it a lot, I saw what they were trying to do, they did it well and it's not a course I would want to play every day". The greens are very demanding and it is perhaps as demanding a driving golf course as you will play. Being on a windy site, the narrowed most preferred landing areas are going to be very challenging to hit. The green complexes are tough as nails and will interest you day in and day out. There is a moderate amount of water in play, way to much for the less or unskilled golfer playing the wrong tees. He told me I was the first rater to ever discover that -what the mission actually was. I told him and I meant it that it would be a great and very special place to watch the professionals try to deal with adversity, no one is going to tear this place up unless it's perfectly calm and the Hudson River will have something to say about that.
Tom Kite had a lot to say about how the green complexes were constructed - they are very contoured, varied in size (some very well) and a lot of short grass protects them. They are too hard for the average golfer at speed, he will be talking to himself. It is not a course for them.
I don't really expect a lot here to say that they think it's cool, but even though at first glance this course resembles a Florida Course, it is unlike any Florida Course. Anyone dismissing the course as that does not know architecture a whit, has an agenda or has not really looked at this golf course. It is a very good golf course, a better golf course of the kind they were shooting for by several orders of magnitude than what they did at Bayonne trying for a Faux Links (and failing in my opinion).
Liberty's other weakness is that three parcels were used and they don't join seamlessly. One parcel allowed this hole (14), a signature if you will, I have a pano to put in later, tune back.
Tune in on TV, my photos and some more comments will be coming later.