LIBERTY NATIONAL GOLF CLUB
Course Architects: Tom Kite and Robert Cupp
Year Opened: 2006
Location: Jersey City, New Jersey
Slope: 151. Rating: 77.7
Hole-by-Hole: 1 - Par 4 398 Yds 10 - Par 4 496 Yds
2 - Par 3 219 Yds 11 - Par 3 250 Yds
3 - Par 4 395 Yds 12 - Par 4 431 Yds
4 - Par 3 193 Yds 13 - Par 5 563 Yds
5 - Par 4 427 Yds 14 - Par 3 150 Yds
6 - Par 5 538 Yds 15 - Par 4 481 Yds
7 - Par 4 467 Yds 16 - Par 4 325 Yds
8 - Par 5 611 Yds 17 - Par 4 445 Yds
9 - Par 4 474 Yds 18 - Par 4 490 Yds
Par 36 3,722 Yds Par 35 3,631 Yds
Events Held: The Barclays (2009, 2013).
HISTORY: Let me get this straight. You have a contaminated piece of land
across the water from New York City and you want to build, a what, a golf
course on top of it and you want to host a major championship! Are you kidding
Well, that's exactly what Reebok CEO Paul Fireman has in mind for the newly
created Liberty National Golf Club.
Located in Jersey City, New Jersey, overlooking one of this nation's most
treasured sites, the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline, Liberty
National has been in the works since 1996. Fireman and his son Dan purchased
the 160 acres of undesirable property and enlisted the services of World Golf
Hall of Fame member Tom Kite and Bob Cupp to weave some magic. And that's
exactly what they did.
Upon his first visit to the property, Kite commented that he "hated the site,
but loved the location." With only two feet of elevation and plenty of permits
and limitations due to the environment, Liberty National was going to be tough
Start with a "plastic bag" of sorts covering the entire piece of property.
Then, add three to four feet of sand on top, that's three million cubic yards
of earth, with no contours and now you can start sculpting, not digging.
According to Kite, "There is nothing natural about Liberty National. This is
what you can do with a little bit of vision and a whole lot of money." Devoid
of any form of vegetation, every tree and bush on the course was hand planted.
Every cart path of brick was painstakingly laid by laborers. This was no small
chore. Since the late '90s, Kite and Cupp had drafted more than 90 different
routing plans, prior to the beginning of construction in 2003 and prior to
joining forces with Fireman.
Fireman spent millions on Liberty National, roughly $150 million, the most
expensive golf course ever built, to create an experience for the rich and
famous. The exclusive club features luxurious amenities, such as a private,
high-speed boat ride from Wall Street to the course across the Upper New York
Bay in just 15 minutes. With all that in mind, this is quite a big ticket. How
large, how about a $500,000 initiation fee for anyone who's got the dough.
This will not be a restricted club, just one that's restricted to the wealthy.
Liberty National played host to the PGA Tour's best in 2009, as Heath Slocum
outdueled Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington and Steve Stricker by one
shot to capture The Barclays, the first event in the FedEx Cup series. Four
shots behind heading into the final round, Slocum fired a four-under 67,
including a 20-foot putt for par on the last hole to preserve the win. The low
round for the week was 65, turned in by Paul Goydos, Sergio Garcia, Steve
Marino and Greg Owen.
REVIEW: Liberty National opens with a solid, dogleg right par four under 400
yards in length. Playing slightly downhill, just a fairway metal or long iron
is needed to thread the fairway that features a creek running down the right
side and in front of the green. A short iron approach to a wide, but shallow
green will remain. A great opening hole with Manhattan to your back.
Playing back toward the city, the second hole is awe-inspiring as you stand on
the tee and view the Statue of Liberty in the foreground. You'll need to focus
on this 200-yard plus par three from the tips. A long bunker guards the entire
left side of the green, while one pot bunker right and another trap deep
provide quite a difficult target. Let's not forget that the putting surface is
34 yards long.
The third is a dynamite par four, requiring a 230-yard carry to reach the
fairway. The landing area is quite narrow with deep fescue flanking both
sides. The second shot plays downhill to a green that features slopes and
grass hollows surrounding the entire putting surface. The two-tiered green is
quite slick from back to front and any shot missing the bunkerless-guarded
surface will slide severely away from the green. Not long, but quite
With more views of the city skyline in the background, the par three fourth
plays slightly uphill over a lake to a long, diagonal green. Two deep bunkers
front the putting surface with spectator-friendly mounding behind the green. A
back-left pin with the wind in your face could make this one of the hardest
holes on the course.
One of the prettiest holes on the course, the fifth requires pinpoint accuracy
off the elevated tee. Stretching to 442 yards from the tips, the
aforementioned lake guards the left side of the fairway, while mounding and
trees protect the right. A small creek sprints toward the green down the left
from the lake and runs right up against the putting surface. The rolling green
is 32 yards deep with sand protecting the right. After four fairly easy holes,
and I use the term loosely, this one is by far the hardest.
The next can play as a par five or a long par four in tournament play. The
beauty of the sixth is its risk-reward opportunities. Playing slightly
downhill, the landing area is quite generous off the tee, setting up a chance
to get home in two. The risk is that water ranges from 200 yards in down the
right side through the green. The layup area, in contrast, is very tight but
will leave a simple pitch to the very long green. A bunker left and a small
pot bunker right guard the putting surface, which features a chipping area,
behind and left. A back-right flag will make this hole quite interesting,
especially when going for the green in two.
To reach the fairway on the seventh, a blast of 230 yards is needed from the
tournament tees. Two sets of bunkers, one right with three traps and a pair
left, guard the fairly wide landing zone. A good tee ball will leave a medium
iron to a very long green that bends to the right. A hand-shaped trap
encompasses the entire putting surface on the right, while two pot bunkers
stand back-left. The green runs from left to right with spectator mounding
around the back. Not only one of the longest par fours on the course, but also
one of the most difficult.
Long and lean can best describe the par five eighth, as it rambles over 600
yards in length. The elevated tee box shows off the gentle bend to the right.
A trio of bunkers down the left side must be avoided off the tee to set up any
reasonable chance of an easy layup. Your second shot must miss the traps left
and trees and mounding right for a simple third. The peanut-shaped surface is
long at 32 paces and is protected by traps left, back and one deep bunker
right. The green slopes from back to front and is quite slick. Just because
it's a par five, don't expect a birdie. Sometimes par is a good score,
especially when it's on the number one handicap hole.
The closing hole on the front nine is target golf at its best. First off, your
tee shot must split the lake left and the mounding, rough and out of bounds
right. Not only that, a creek crosses the fairway at the 150-yard marker, so
club selection is important off the tee. From the forward tees, you can cross
the creek, however three bunkers left will most certainly come into play. Your
approach will be slightly uphill to another long green, with two pot bunkers
left and a chipping area right. After playing these two holes, you'll hope for
a breather on the next.
OB right, deep fescue and sand left, 513 yards, water left and a dogleg right,
this is no way to start the back nine, especially when it's a par four! The
10th is sensational if your a masochist. Even with a 265-yard tee shot from
the back buttons, you're still left with a poke of 250 yards, over a creek,
avoiding the lake and out-of-bounds and negotiating the 48-yard long green
with numerous humps and bumps along the way.
Another unique aspect of Liberty National is its wide variety of par threes.
The 11th is the longest of the quartet, stretching to a robust 250 yards.
Water hugs the left side and around the back with a 50-yard bunker in between
the water and the green. The right side is most definitely the bail-out area,
but not an easy up and down, as the green is long and undulating. With a back-
left flag and the wind in your face, you might find yourself hitting driver
from the back tees.
Options, that's what the 12th hole is all about. A split fairway with bunkers
dotting the center rough presents the player with a couple of scenarios. Play
right to the wider fairway and leave a longer approach or, go left to the
tight landing area and have just a wedge to the green with an open shot at the
putting surface. Personally, wide is OK by me and this will leave a short iron
to a heavily guarded green that slopes from left to right and back to front.
Although fairly short, this hole has quite a bite.
More choices on the 13th, a waterloo of sorts. This devilish par five can be
reached in two, however, water stands in your way. With a solid blast off the
tee, avoiding numerous traps and out-of-bounds right, the player will have an
option of going for the green or laying up. A lake featuring a rock wall
fronts the putting surface from 200 yards in. A word of caution: any shot long
of the green is jail, as deep fescue resides. The smart play is out to the
right of the green, leaving a simple pitch to a very narrow green that runs
north and south. The putting surface is very undulating with a large rise
toward the back. Any shot short and right will slip back toward the fairway
and the chipping areas.
One of the prettiest holes on the course, the 14th is a dandy of a par three
jutting out on the peninsula with views of the statue. Just 150 yards, but all
carry over fescue with sand left and short-right. The putting surface runs
left to right and is very narrow, just 27 paces deep. Club selection is key,
as any shot long or left could result in a lost ball. Be happy with three.
In contrast, the 15th is a bear of a par four, bending hard to the left with
thick rough, fescue and trees to the right. First of all, the hole measures
481 yards from the back tees and your opening shot must draw around a pair of
traps at the corner of the dogleg. Next up, the approach with a mid to long
iron, must favor the right side, as a deep 40-yard trap protects the left side
of the putting surface. The green itself is 38 yards deep with numerous
One of the most entertaining and enjoyable holes, the 16th is a reachable par
four under 340 yards in length. Bending ever-so slightly to the right, this
beauty features a lake, a waterfall and a babbling brook down the right side
and an enormous trap left of the green. The fairway is wide, so laying up and
leaving yourself a little wedge is certainly an option, but it's more fun to
blast for the green and have a go at eagle. The putting surface is long and
slopes from back to front, so why not.
As you head for home, the 17th offers another sensational view of our liberty.
The task at hand however is not so pretty, as this hole is long and lean. With
the wind in your face, this 445-yarder features a tight fairway with fescue
right and left, not to mention sand. A medium to long iron will remain if you
successfully split the landing area. The putting surface is fairly long with
sand short and right. Any shot right and long will be hard to find, so bail
left into the chipping area and pray for a short game.
Running along the bay, the final hole is another 400-yard plus gem. The
landing area is wide, but trouble lurks off the fairway, with numerous traps
and OB right and sand and fescue left. A medium to long iron will be needed to
reach the putting surface that sports sand right and left. A beautiful rock
wall runs the entire hole down the right side through the green with final
views of the Manhattan skyline and the Statue.
FINAL WORD: What can I say, the views are breathtaking and the course is rock
solid. Having the opportunity to play Liberty National was and is a real
treat. Views of Lady Liberty and Manhattan, not to mention the Verrazano
Narrows Bridge, the largest suspension bridge in the United States, from just
a short distance are spectacular. You know what they say, "Location, location,
The golf course has it all, from rock-lined streams, lakes, waterfalls,
gorgeous landscaping, complete with over 5,000 planted mature trees, flowing
fescue, splash-like bunkering, conditioning that would make Augusta National
and Muirfield Village jealous and a track as tough as nails. The irrigation
system alone features 5,200 sprinkler heads, twice the usual number.
What caught my eye, in addition to the views, were the sand traps and the
fescue. White splashy sand that washes right up to the fairway and fescue that
waves like a flag in the wind.
An outstanding practice facility, a course conveniently located near the
greatest city in the world, easy access to the airports of New Jersey and New
York and amenities above and beyond, what more could one ask for. One might
think that this course is for only the bravest of souls, however with tees
ranging from 5,100 to 7,400 yards, all players are capable of enjoying LNGC.
When the clubhouse and nearby condominiums are complete, Liberty National Golf
Club will be one of the most exciting venues and destinations in the world.
The clubhouse, which will be designed by Lindsay Newman Architecture and
Design (www.lnarchitecture.com), comes with a $30 million price tag. "Liberty
National is about more than just golf, it’s a lifestyle...from our world-class
service and amenities to the latest in technology," said Dan Fireman. "With
that in mind, we look forward to working with Lindsay Newman Architecture and
Design to set a new standard with this clubhouse."
Will it be good enough to host a major event, like a U.S. Open or a PGA
Championship? Possibly. Liberty National is already slated to take over as
host of a PGA Tour stop in 2009. If this course could be built on waste area,
then anything is possible. Don't underestimate the power of money and