Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, New Jersey, made its PGA debut in 2009 with The Barclays (now THE NORTHERN TRUST). With views of the Statue of Liberty, the Manhattan skyline and the Verrazano Bridge, the Tom Kite and Robert E. Cupp-designed course was touted as a fresh and gorgeous venue to take over one of the TOUR’s longest-running annual tournaments. But despite the hype, that first edition of The Barclays at Liberty National wasn’t well received. Tiger Woods ripped the contour changes in the greens and the narrow layout of the course.
Taking the criticism to heart, a revamped Liberty National hosted The Barclays again in 2013. Greens were reconstructed, fairways were smoothed and widened and the course was staged in a more dramatic manner. This time, the pros were more gracious. Woods complimented the changes. Adam Scott called the course “perfect.”
After the positive reviews in 2013, the PGA offered Liberty National a 25-year agreement to host tournaments, a deal that included the 2017 Presidents Cup. When the contracts were signed and the hands were shook, the agreement made Liberty National just the fourth U.S. course to host the Presidents Cup. Even though responses to the 2013 modifications were positive, directors at the club felt more could be done to the course. So in 2017, the layout underwent more changes hoping to make Liberty National more memorable for those watching at home.
2017 Presidents Cup
For the Presidents Cup, Liberty National will play extremely long at close to 7,400 yards. For golfers, the course length will be the least of their worries. Due to the course sharing the western shoreline of New York Bay, swirling wind plays a huge part in shaping shots. Another nuisance to golfers who may stray from the fairway is the lengthy fescue that lines fairways and greens. In 2009, this fescue was unruly and difficult to manage. But with the alterations since that initial tournament, Liberty National has groomed the fescue to roughly four inches in height—making it playable for errant shots.
What will make the 2017 Presidents Cup interesting is how Liberty National has changed their hole order to make the course more dramatic for television. Citing the nature of how match play rarely lasts 18 holes, management decided to make an adjustment. Instead of starting at the traditional first hole at Liberty National, golfers for the United States and International Teama will instead begin their round at what is normally the fifth hole of the golf club. The remainder of the round will follow the typical order, hole 6 will play second, etc.
But the change will have consequences that could create controversy—the final three holes will be played over the 2nd, 3rd and 4th hole of Liberty National. Two of these holes are par 3s. In an even more peculiar development, the course reshuffle will now leave four par 5s over the front nine.
Liberty National key holes
Signature holes to look for when the tournament takes place over September 28 through October 1 include the shortest hole on the course, the 10th hole—a 150-yard par 3. The tee box has unobstructed views of Lady Liberty, lower Manhattan and the Verrazano Bridge. The green is surrounded by bunkers, that pesky fescue rough and a run of water that presents an intimidating lateral hazard. Another risk/reward hole that will dazzle viewers is the 12th hole, a 325-yard drivable par 4. The layout of the hole will tempt golfers, especially the ones who crush the ball off the tee. What awaits them around the green is a long bunker and a water hazard that will come into play for those hoping to sneak an eagle. Those two holes will undoubtedly play a huge part in how the match play event plays out over the final round on Sunday.
Nick Price will captain the International Team. His roster will include Jason Day, Adam Scott and Hideki Matsuyama to name a few. For Steve Stricker’s United States Squad, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas will wear the red, white and blue. With this star power, the 2017 Presidents Cup promises to be a terrific tournament at a highly entertaining venue.
See also: Full 2017 Presidents Cup Teams Announced