Patrick Reed is the emotional type. The more his adrenaline flows, the better he plays, as he has consistently shown at the Ryder Cup. It is why he felt he was in his element as he won the Barclays last year at Bethpage Black, and why he can’t wait to get back to Long Island.
“The fans are unbelievable. They’re passionate about golf in general and they love to get loud. It just kind of plays into my kind of golf,” he said Monday on a call to discuss defending his title in the tournament, which has a new title, the Northern Trust, and a different venue, Glen Oaks Club in Old Westbury, for the opener of the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup playoffs the week after next.
Despite the differences, Reed expects the fervor to be a constant. “I love to have that crowd behind you, love having the crowd give you shots back and forth, whether positive or negative. It makes golf a lot of fun,” he said to a gathering during media day at Glen Oaks. “Golf is such a proper game, with claps for good shots and nothing for bad shots. So to have that kind of extra power, that extra punch you get by playing up on Long Island, it’s amazing. Every time there’s an event up there, I just love to go and play because it’s a different animal and it’s so much fun.”
Tournament organizers would like to ensure that there will be more spectators making Reed’s kind of noise. Spectators were vocal but not numerous last year, so the event hopes to draw more with food from famous chefs and displays from well-known fashion designers. “The outside-the-ropes experience is an attempt to make it far more social for people,” said Julie Tyson, senior VP for the PGA Tour.
Fans will be allowed to bring their own food and the tour will debut a new policy allowing spectators to take photos and videos with their phones. Public parking will be at Nassau Coliseum, with shuttles running back and forth continuously. There also will be shuttles from the Westbury Long Island Rail Road station.
“At the risk of offending some of our colleagues at other events, this is the best field in golf,” tournament executive director Peter Mele said. He added that Glen Oaks, a renovated course north of the Long Island Expressway, will be a big part of the attraction: “Our advance official came in last week and said if it’s second to any golf course condition-wise, it will be second to Augusta.”
Reed said he has not seen it, “but I’ve heard a lot of great things about it.”
Those comments are a reflection on superintendent Craig Currier, who once worked at Augusta National and tended Bethpage through two stormy U.S. Opens. “I’m 0-for-2,” Currier said, to laughter from the audience. “I don’t know if ‘elegant’ is the right word. We weren’t trying to copy Augusta, but it’s a similar kind of look.”