Just after the Meadow Brook Club opened in 1955, legendary golf writer Herbert Warren Wind could not say enough good things about it, but he came close. In Sports Illustrated, he called it a “born classic” and “the finest golf course that has been built in this country since Bob Jones and Dr. Alister Mackenzie produced Augusta National back in 1931.”
Members always have beenproud of the layout in Jericho. They still are. So much so, in fact, that they have decided to close the course the week after next, during the height of the season, to give it a facelift. They believe that it is time to modernize and that, when it reopens on April 1, Meadow Brook will be seen as a reborn classic.
“It’s a great place, a great piece of property, a great track. We’re going to make it a little better,” superintendent John Carlone said.
Carlone and longtime head pro Rick Meskell both said that the tone and flavor of Meadow Brook — a private club that became known to the public when it hosted a Senior PGA Tour event from the late 1980s into the early 2000s — will remain intact after seven new tees are built, all the bunkers rebuilt, severe doglegs softened and the driving range expanded.
“I think people are going to come out after it’s done and say, ‘Boy, it was just that little bit of change that makes it better, that gets it over the top,’ ” Carlone said, adding that the course is being closed now so that the work can be done all at once, rather than forcing interruptions over two or more seasons. Meskell said that five neighboring private clubs “are being neighborly” in allowing Meadow Brook’s members to play their courses.
The project will be the most ambitious since the club was forced to move from its original Westbury location 61 years ago to make way for Meadowbrook Parkway. As much as Wind liked it from the outset, a few of the present course’s characteristics were problematic from the start, or at least from a redesign in 1967. For instance, much of the fifth and 18th greens (Nos. 14 and 9, when the tour played there) are unusable because they are too steeply sloped for modern green speeds.
Meskell said the idea to upgrade took root two years ago. Club officials called Golfweek architecture editor Brad Klein for advice on a redesign expert. He recommended Brian Silva, who has done dozens of courses, including Seminole in Juno Beach, Florida. Meadow Brook hired him, then signed Maccurah Golf Construction of Jacksonville. The work will get going the day after a members’ tournament Aug. 7.
Most noteworthy will be the conversion of the difficult par-4 18th into a par 5 (with No. 12 switching from a 5 to a 4). Perhaps the most important part will not involve any of the holes.
“The range needs updating. According to Tom Lister, our renovation committee chairman, it’s important for the club to keep up to date to compete for members,” Carlone said. “If they’re coming from the city and they just want to practice for an hour, we want them to come here.”
The club wants them to keep coming. Meadow Brook sees this as a rebirth of its future. It has signed up to host the Ike Championship in 2018 and the Met Open in the next decade. If the Champions Tour, LPGA (which used to play there) or even the PGA Tour want to stop by…
“From the championship tees, we’re going to be at 7,444 (yards),” Carlone said. “So we can host anything.”
Tony Caporrino, Sebonack GC, 12th hole, 135 yards, 9-iron
Gary Napolitano, Tallgrass GC, eighth hole, 166 yards, 6-iron
Scott Maxwell, West Sayville GC, 12th hole, 170 yards, 6-iron
Anthony Sande, Spring Lake GC, 16th hole, 142 yards, 6-iron
Patrick Mullin, Southward Ho CC, ninth hole, 126 yards, 9-iron
Michael Gleason (of East Northport), Tenison Park Highlands Course (Dallas, Tex.), 17th hole, 190 yards, 7-iron
Marvin Weisbrod, Rolling Oaks GC, 14th hole, 114 yards, 5-iron
Jeff Burke, Town of Oyster Bay GC, eighth hole, 207 yards, 4-iron
Wan Su Im, Town of Oyster Bay GC, third hole, 140 yards, 9-iron
Bonnie Perlmutter, Willow Creek CC, 16th hole, 107 yards, 9-iron
Andy Pedone, Swan Lake GC, seventh hole, 127 yards, 9-iron
Henry Elias, Pine Ridge GC, 17th hole, 120 yards, 9-iron