Aug
27
2009
Liberty National: Paradise or Hell?
By Stephanie Wei under General

Tiger Woods has a way with words. When asked what he thought of Liberty National, he replied, “It’s interesting.” In a good way? Again, “It’s interesting.” In other words, he thinks the course is in fantastic shape, the views of the Statue of Liberty and NYC are beautiful, but he doesn’t like the layout.

That’s been the general consensus among players. One player I chatted with on Tuesday said some of the holes were “goofy” and “unfair.” Another was overheard half-jokingly announcing, “If I ever design a golf course, this is an example of what not to do.” Others have been hesitant and giving the diplomatic or indifferent answer, which goes something like this: “«shrug» «avoid eye contact» «exert self-restraint» It’s OK. It is what it is.” A caddie I met on the ferry described several holes as “stupid.”

But all of them have added that the course is in great shape and the views are spectacular. Get used to hearing that because it’s going to be discussed on the telecast a gazillion times. And though it’s true, there’s only so much to be said about the scenery — kind of like the mud and rain at Bethpage.

Anyway, what’s with the complaints? What are the players concerned with?

The crosswinds from the Hudson will play a huge factor in determining the degree of difficulty. Geoff Ogilvy tweeted, “Mid pro am tweet. If we play the course with these tees and these pins, and this wind nobody will get anywhere near even par.” And Camilo Villegas posted, “I’ve been asked a lot what i think about Liberty National…’Its interesting…’ and if the wind blows like it did today…Its Crazy…”

Right now the conditions are soft, so the wind is reasonable to handle. But if things start to firm up, balls will be rolling off greens left and right. That said, a stellar short game will come in handy.

The fairways are really narrow — that was the first thing I noticed. The guys who drive ‘em straight will have an advantage. It won’t be easy to recover from errant shots. For example, on the 8th hole, a 611-yard par 5, if they miss it from the tee either left or right, they’ll have to chip out and still be left with 230 yards into the green.

Then, there are the greens. Let me tell you, they’re slopey, scary and sizable. If you don’t hit it in the right section, good luck. It’ll be interesting to see where they’ll place the pins. Regardless, I have a feeling it’s going to be a nightmare for the players.

There’s been a lot of chatter about the 14th hole, a short par 3, that sits alongside the water with an awesome view of the NYC skyline. It’s arguably the best hole on the course, but it has the makings for some large numbers.

Expect the cutline to be four-over and the winning score to be give or take 8-under — depending on how hard the wind is blowing. Cross your fingers it stays under control and conditions stay soft.

So it sounds like we’re in for a week of whining. Well, only time will tell. Needless to say, it’ll be “interesting” to see how things play out.