It warms my Boston heart when I hear Paul Fireman say the word “harbor,” which he often does given the spectacular location of his creation, Liberty National Golf Course in Jersey City, N.J. The course is perfectly situated in New York Harbor, offering breathtaking views of Manhattan, and the Statue of Liberty standing watch center stage.
Hole No. 14, a 150-yard par-3, and the 18th, a 490-yard par-4, have such astounding views that you’re awed by their magnitude and beauty, and the foresight to create such a setting. The 7,353-yard Tom Kite and Bob Cupp-designed Liberty National has hosted The Barclays tournament twice; first in 2009 and again in 2013.
Some changes were made after the 2009 event and, this time around, the course appeared to have won the approval of the players and critics as the reviews were positive, especially from Australian Adam Scott, who won the first stop in the four-event FedEx Cup Playoffs two weeks ago.
Liberty National is one of those layouts that appears to have been sculpted into the surrounding environment and has been there all along. Given that not so long ago this property was a landfill and industrial wasteland, it is immediately evident that no expense was spared to transform it into a private club within eyeshot of the Big Apple.
It blends seamlessly with the marsh-enclosed waterfront, and features a $60 million clubhouse that looks like a glass ship about to set sail into the harbor. The structure, inspired by the Sydney Opera House, is 57,000 square feet of glass and steel. Its luxurious interior features locker rooms, a library, bar, formal dining areas and fitness center.
Fireman is no stranger to visionary ideas. After investing $65,000 in Reebok, he bought the North American distribution rights for the sneaker company in 1979, and took it to a public company before selling it to rival company Adidas in 2006 for $3.8 billion. His profit from the deal was close to $700 million.
Besides building companies, Fireman has experience building and rebuilding golf courses, including as the owner of Willowbend on Cape Cod in Mashpee, Mass., from 1991 to 2012. Liberty National is the culmination of his goals in golf.
After playing a round and spending time at this amazing facility, I realized the $250 million to mitigate the polluted land and redevelop, design and build Liberty National Golf Club was worth every cent.
Like visiting a historic building or a great monument, you learn to appreciate that Paul Fireman’s vision and desire to leave a legacy was achieved here. Not bad for the former Thorny Lea GC caddie from Brockton, Mass.