There’s a world-class golf course in the middle of New York City — on the south point of the Bronx tucked under the Whitestone Bridge. The effort to build what is now called Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point nearly has the makings to be an episode out of the The Sopranos, but I didn’t have enough words or room to get into the long, dramatic history.
Instead, I wrote about the partnership of Mayor Bloomberg, Donald Trump and Jack Nicklaus that pushed to complete the 30-plus-year undertaking to bring a golf course to Ferry Point Park and previewed the ceremonial ribbon-cutting at the course that’s happening this morning. In fact, I’m going to be late, so I better run, but you can read in print on the front page of the Wall Street Journal’s Greater New York section (if you live in the tri-state area), or of course, there’s always the online version…
The story of the new golf course in Ferry Point Park is beset with a complex history that includes lengthy delays and exorbitant costs—hurdles familiar to any New Yorker with a big plan. Now, 12 years, several contractors, and more than $100 million after the course was initially scheduled to open, the construction of all 18 holes is finally complete thanks to the unlikely partnership of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Donald Trump and Jack Nicklaus.
On Wednesday morning, the trio is scheduled to attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Nicklaus-designed course, located at the foot of the Whitestone Bridge—a former landfill turned 200-acre urban oasis abutted by the East River, St. Raymond’s Cemetery and public parks.
The ceremony was initially supposed to take place in 2001, during Rudy Giuliani’s administration, but cost overruns and legal snags proved formidable.
The buried lede is that the USGA has visited the site twice and expressed serious interest in scouting Ferry Point as a future U.S. Open site.
“[Ferry Point] was built to house a championship and to be able to bring the outside world to New York City to see that they have golf, and for the people in the city to have it and allow people to play it that live there,” Nicklaus said.
USGA executive director Mike Davis has already made two visits to the site, the last one three weeks ago. Short of making any type of commitment, Davis said he believes the venue is worthy of a major tournament.
“We want to see the golf course open,” he said. “It’s certainly worth [the USGA] continuing to look at it seriously, but it’s so early in the process and so few people have seen it.”
Host sites for the U.S. Open are already scheduled through 2020, but other premier events, like a U.S. Amateur, USGA Open qualifier, or Metropolitan Golf Association Open, could be staged to test the site for larger, national championships. Almost every hole boasts views of the city skyline. On a few, like Nos. 6 and 7, golfers can use the Empire State Building or One World Trade Center—depending on ball flight and wind direction—as a target line.
“When I learned about how [Ferry Point] was going to be a public golf course built on sand in the city of New York and you could literally see the skyline, it’s a very intriguing concept and ultimately to the game of golf, to have [a course] within the five boroughs of that high quality,” said Davis.
Nicklaus, winner of a record 18 major championships in his playing career, has designed more than 100 courses in the U.S., though none have hosted a U.S. Open—something that could make Ferry Point even more intriguing to the USGA.
Here’s the current scorecard of the track that’s not set to open to the public until spring 2015, so don’t take this as completely final, though all 18 holes are “finished” (but might be adjusted slightly if, say, the USGA asked them to make some tweaks).
(Photos by Jim Mandeville/Nicklaus Design)