After their first look at the Glen Oaks Club, the PGA Tour golfers who were on the course for early practice Monday each saw something different. They all liked what they saw.
“It looks great. It looks pure,” said Patrick Reed, the defending champion of the FedEx Cup playoff event now known as the Northern Trust. “I’m looking forward to the week.”
The week officially begins today, with the first practice rounds open to the public and continues with the pro-am tomorrow and the first round Thursday. The most intriguing question right away is how the layout looks, considering Glen Oaks never has hosted a pro tournament before. To be sure, tour golfers are inclined to be very polite, but yesterday the pros packed superlatives when they described the new site of the event formerly known as the Barclays.
“Oh, it’s wonderful. I heard it’s a very exclusive golf course,” said Danny Lee, a winner on tour last season. “From the practice areas to all around the course, it’s just wonderful.”
“Great condition. It reminds me a little bit of Ridgewood, but maybe not as tree-lined as Ridgewood,” William McGirt, another tour winner in 2016, said, referring to one of the other courses in the Northern Trust rotation.
Rod Pampling of Australia, who won on tour this season, said, “I love it, it’s awesome. There are a lot of similarities to the Melbourne in Sydney. I like courses where the fairway cuts into the bunkers, there’s no rough around the cutoffs and runaways. I think it’s a very fair golf course and everyone has a good chance.
“It’s nice to be all on the same playing field,” he said, noting that Glen Oaks is new to everyone.
The only person who might have a slight edge in local knowledge is Keegan Bradley, who played it when he was on the golf team at St. John’s. “But it’s been a while and I don’t remember much of it,” he said. He does know that it did not look much like it does now, what with a major renovation and the hiring of superintendent Craig Currier away from Bethpage.
“It looks incredible. It looks just mind-blowing,” Bradley said. “Craig Currier is one of the best superintendents in the world. Every course I’ve ever played of his is always in the most incredible condition. And all the players are raving about it out here. He has got a great staff and he has always treated the players and college kids really well so he deserves this.”
Players kept practicing during the eclipse, many of them looking skyward through special glasses between shots on the range, which is normally the ninth hole on the Glen Oaks Red Course. The tournament is being held on a composite of the club’s 27 holes.
“You can tell you’re playing three different nines, they converted some holes that probably shouldn’t be converted,” McGirt said. “But it’s a pretty good layout.”
Lee played the front nine and said it was long and tight. “Other players played the back nine yesterday and told me it was easier,” he said. “It looks like it’s the kind of course you want to play defense on the front and the back you just go off.”
Mostly, the course generated one-word descriptions, such as the one Charles Howell III gave to club pro Tim Shifflett: “Phenomenal.”