July 9, 2015—Fresh Meadow Country Club
Just to kill the suspense and keep everyone from scrolling down got the round in today and the US Open Bucket List is now definitely down to seven. Just knew that was at the top of your minds.
As I indicated in my prior post, Fresh Meadow has some interesting history. Many New York area golfers who lived in the 20’s and 30’s would have said that Lido Golf Club and Fresh Meadow were the two best courses within 50 miles of Times Square. Gene Sarazen was the head pro at Fresh Meadow, and lost in the finals of the 1930 PGA (match play back then) to Tommy Armour, who was a member of Winged Foot GC. The US Open was scheduled for play at Fresh Meadow in 1932, and Sarazen, concerned about the “home pro jinx” resigned his position at FMCC and went on to win the Open playing the final 28 holes on Saturday in an astounding 100 strokes. He also, became head pro at a nearby club just over the city line called Lakeville Club (remember that name).
After the war (that’s WW II for you spring chickens), the real estate tax burden started to get to FMCC and the members started looking for greener (or at least less expensive) pastures. Lakeville Club had been through difficult times as a result of the depression and war, and was in receivership. The course there had been designed by Charles Alison (long time readers of these pieces of literature will recall that Alison built many of the great courses in Japan in the 30’s) who was a partner of Harry Colt and famous for brilliant bunker design. FMCC purchased Lakeville (and of course sold its original campus…thereby providing a home for my girlfriend about 15 years later). Welcome home, Gene Sarazen!
Today, FMCC is a beautiful course, which occupies a wonderful piece of land. HOWEVER, it is a prime example of the negative influence of Augusts National on golf course conditioning in the US. The 18 holes are almost uniformly green, the fairways and greens being overwatered. The bunkers remind me of those at ANGC, with perfectly smoothed sand and manicured edges. The members love their green course and I do not think they realize how much more fun it would play if it was firm and fast. Many of the holes are extremely well designed on rolling land that does not react as it would if it was firm/fast…thereby reducing “shot values.” My host agreed with my assessment but I sense that is just one vote of many.
One thing I cannot explain. The club I played today is the Fresh Meadow CC (and has always gone by that name)…yet the area where its first course was located is now called Fresh Meadows (plural). Not sure why.
Good two days. Two interesting tracks. Four majors won on them by guys names Jones, Hagen, Armour, and Sarazen...not too shabby. And on top of that, a visit to Mecca!!!