The Barclays host Liberty National went from a landfill on the banks of the Hudson River to an exclusive members club minutes from downtown New York City. We asked our golf travel experts what their favorite golf course reclamation project is in the U.S.
Jason Deegan: Chambers Bay, Washington
The genius of Chambers Bay does not rely solely upon golf. The linksy Robert Trent Jones II municipal course was built by Pierce County in 2007 to host a major championship, such as the 2010 U.S. Amateur and the 2015 U.S. Open.
Perhaps the more impressive thing to note, though, is the 360 acres reclaimed from an old gravel quarry also includes 50 acres of parks and three miles of trails. The KemperSports-managed course is a paradise for golfers, yes, but really anybody can soak up the jaw-dropping scenery along the Puget Sound in University Park 60 minutes south of Seattle.
“Only 10 percent of the population plays golf,” Chambers Bay General Manager Matt Allen said. “A lot of other people use the park. You’ve got trails through the course filled with bikes and walkers and dogs. It’s reminiscent of the U.K. when you see people on or near the course using the facilities for another purpose.”
The firm and fast conditions of the 7,585-yard course – probably accompanied by the cloudy sky and slight drizzle known to plague the Pacific Northwest – further accentuate a Scottish or Irish flair. The trains that run along the shoreline feel distinctly Scottish as well. Due to sweeping elevation changes, Chambers Bay remains a chore to walk, although it can be done. A steady stream of renovations appear to be complete before golf’s traveling circus stop by for what will be a memorable major championship.
Brandon Tucker: Streamsong Resort, Florida
Golf course development is at its best when a once desolate piece of land flourishes into something useful again.
The Mosaic Company, which owns about 250,000 acres of Florida for phosphate mining and other operations, realized recently they had a piece of mined acreage that had, coincidentally enough, formed itself into a prime spot to build a destination golf resort.
They built Streamsong Resort, which opened 36 holes and a small dormy house earlier this year and will debut a 216-room hotel soon. What's so cool about this reclamation is that when you arrive on site for the first time, the transformation seems effortless.
Mosaic brought in Tom Doak and Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw to make it an authentic 36-hole experience for design aficionados -- something the public golf scene in Florida has underachieved in.
High sand dunes and large ponds fill each layout, and perhaps the most striking piece of the property is where one par-3 from each course, the Blue and Red, cozy up to one another on opposite sides of a huge sand hill and above a dug-out water hazard.
South of Lakeland, Streamsong is a one-hour drive from Tampa and 90 minutes from Orlando. Yet it feels like the most remote part of Florida with virtually nothing on the horizon for miles around. In addition to 36 holes, resort activities also include shooting, hiking and fishing.
Considering Mosaic has so much more land at its disposal, one wonders if, someday, we could see the company plan another development somewhere else in the state...
Mike Bailey: Bay Harbor Golf Club, Michigan
Twenty-seven hole Bay Harbor Golf Club is often referred to as the 'Pebble Beach of the Midwest' and for good reason. Many of its Arthur Hills-designed risk-reward holes ride along the coast high above Little Traverse Bay on Lake Michigan. Add flawless conditions, a top-notch clubhouse and perfect summertime weather, and you've got a scene so pristine that it's hard to believe much of sits atop the old Penn-Dixie cement site that was dynamited almost 20 years ago.
But what many golfers don't realize, however, is the cost for all this, which goes way above the billion-dollar price tag of the development. Not revealed -- apparently until better testing became available -- was the presence of leachate produced by water reacting with cement kiln dust buried below the site. For years now, one of the original development partners -- Consumer Energy's affiliated CMS Land Co. (which no longer has ownership) – has covered the cost for environmental cleanup.
According to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, the water is currently safe, but the $250 million project continues.