When the Glen Oaks Club in Old Westbury decided on a major renovation and hired a major superintendent, Craig Currier from Bethpage State Park, it was no secret that the course was trying to raise its game. "I knew he could make it great," said Tim Shifflett, the Glen Oaks head pro for the past 15 years. "But I didn't know it could be this good."
The same could be said about the course's instantly evolving respect in golfdom. Only five years after Currier's work began, Glen Oaks has landed The Barclays, one of the PGA Tour's premier events, for 2017. Members knew that Glen Oaks' reputation would grow, they just never dreamed it would get so good this quickly.
"I think you can safely say that all the work we have done on the golf course was not done with the intention of hosting a tour event. The purpose of it was to ensure our membership of a great product that they can enjoy playing every day," said Howard Smith, the incoming club president five years ago who is now co-chairman of the 2017 Barclays.
Jordan Ziegler, his fellow member and co-chairman, said of the Tour, "If you're not searching them out, and they come knocking, how do you say no?"
Tour officials knew Currier through his work of preparing the Black Course for the 2002 and 2009 U.S. Opens and had heard about the revitalized Glen Oaks. They were seeking a host for their 2017 FedEx Cup playoffs opener after Liberty National was named the site for the Presidents Cup. They visited a few times, loved what they saw and made the official announcement this week.
"In our business, to host something like this, it doesn't get any bigger," Currier said. "All my guys are excited to have the whole world check us out." Referring to the fact that The Barclays is open only to the top 125 players on tour, he added, "You might even argue that it's a better field than the U.S. Open."
The Barclays will use a composite of Glen Oaks' 27 holes-Nos. 1-3 and 6-9 on the White Course, Nos. 4 and 5 on the Red and the complete Blue-for a par 70 at 7,300 yards. The layout will debut with the Met Open next August.
Ziegler, a member of the Metropolitan Golf Association's executive committee, said, "We've been saying yes to a lot of outside events. I think it's about giving back to the game of golf, and how good the game has been to the Glen Oaks Club from the beginning."
That beginning was in 1924, on the William K. Vanderbilt property straddling the Nassau-Queens border. Members saw the need to expand in the late 1960s and bought a 250-acre arboretum that was part of the Winthrop Estate and hired Joe Finger, famous for designing "The Monster" at the Concord Hotel, to build a course that opened on Labor Day, 1971.
The redesign, finished last year under architect Joel Weiman, features contoured, impeccably manicured bunkers and bright green grass from tree line to tree line.
"You don't see this look around [Long Island]. Everyone is going with the native areas, the fescue, the jagged bunkers," Currier said. "We went the total opposite way-real clean, elegant looking bunkers. People joke with us, calling us the Augusta of the North, but that's kind of the look we were going for."
For a superintendent and staff, unexpectedly getting to prepare a course for the PGA Tour is like a golfer winning a major. "I've lost a few guys over the years," said Currier, who used to work at Augusta National, "but the guys I have now are not going anywhere for the next couple of years."
The 46th Annual Fuoco Memorial Golf Tournament benefiting Camp Paquatuck, the Rotary's health camp in East Moriches for handicapped children, will be at Rock Hill Golf & Country Club, Manorville, Sept. 17. The outing features nine "feastival" food stands.