2017 The Northern Trust course preview: Glen Oaks Club
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2017 The Northern Trust course preview: Glen Oaks Club

No. 5 on Glen Oaks Club's Red nine (via Glen Oaks Club)

Who is ready for some FedEx Cup playoff golf?! This week marks the first event of the FedEx Cup playoffs at The Northern Trust. Subbing in this year for President’s Cup host, Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, N.J., is Glen Oaks Club in Old Westbury, N.Y. (Long Island). While the club has played host to a number of larger amateur events, this will be its first time hosting a large Tour event.

The Glen Oaks Club was formed in 1924 south of Lake Success on land purchased from the estate of William K. Vanderbilt and later moved to the current site in Old Westbury. The course was designed by Joe Finger and opened for play in 1971. The 27 holes at Glen Oaks were largely unchanged until 2011, when Joel Weiman and Craig Currier, the superintendent of the club, led a renovation that was completed in 2014. If Currier sounds vaguely familiar it’s because he was the young super at Bethpage Black when that previous diamond in the rough was polished into the gem it is today capable of hosting multiple U.S. Opens. Shortly after the 2009 U.S. Open Currier became the super at Glen Oaks on Jan. 1, 2010.

Upon his arrival, Currier suggested they look to undergo a major renovation and landed on the firm of McDonald and Sons with architect Joel Weiman at the helm (not surprisingly they’re the same firm that helped renovate Bethpage). Yet, the most interesting thing about the renovation was the direction the club decided to take. At the time, and even today, golf architecture is in the middle of a wonderful revival of “minimalism” defined by natural-looking bunker lines, tall fescue grasses bordering the playing areas and hard, spongy turf that is more often brown/yellow than shades of hunter green. Glen Oaks decided to zig when everyone else was zagging. Work began in 2012 and the clearing of the land was “helped” by the two subsequent hurricanes, Irene and Sandy. Some estimated they lost 1,200 trees between the two storms.

Having worked at Augusta National in his youth, Currier sees many of Glen Oaks newer features as an homage to ANGC: the bright white flashed-sand bunkering, the impeccable mowing lines, the bunker shapes and edges, etc. When the pros descend on Glen Oaks for the first time they will at least be impressed with the conditioning of the course. We’ll find out about the routing (which will be comprised of Nos. 1-3 and 6-9 on the White Course, Nos. 4 and 5 on the Red and the complete Blue nine-for a par 70 at 7,300 yards) as the tournament gets going.

Holes To Watch

Hole 3 - Par 5, 625 yards
The first par 5 players face is the longest hole on the golf course. A downhill tee shot must navigate around a large, deep bunker on the left side of the fairway. From here, players must take into account the day’s hole location and decide the best spot to position their ball to attack a severely sloped and heavily bunkered green.

Hole 8 - Par 4, 444 yards
Tee shot placement is crucial on this hole. Off the tee, players must navigate between the daunting set of fairway bunkers to the left and some very thick rough to the right of the fairway. The blind approach adds a certain element of uncertainty for players’ club selection on this uphill hole.

Hole 11 - Par 4, 315 yards
This risk-reward par 4 offers the players options off the tee. Depending on wind direction, this can be a drivable Par 4 with potential eagle opportunities. However, players must navigate between multiple water hazards to a very shallow green sloped severely back to front. Short of the green is guarded by a pond while long is no bargain where players face a difficult bunker shot with the green running away towards the water.

Hole 18 - Par 4, 465 yards
The closing hole features an intimidating tee shot where players must hit their ball to the right of a large pond and fairway bunker. Those who choose to play a more risky tee shot closer to the water and fairway bunker will be rewarded with a flatter lie and shorter approach. Those who bail right off the tee will face a longer, more difficult approach off a downhill lie to an elevated green surrounded by bunkers and rough. Once on the green, players must navigate a heavily contoured green to finish their round.

About the author

Ethan Zimman

Ethan Zimman is a proposal writer for a large federal government contractor by day and freelance writer by night. He's an avid golfer who started playing at age 13 and keeps trying to chip away at his 8.6 handicap index. His passion for golf course architecture began after reading Tom Doak's 'The Anatomy of a Golf Course' in high school. In his (non-golf-related) spare time, he loves visiting wineries and breweries with his wife, son, and their goldendoodle Bodie.