Friday, July 26, 2013

Marine Park Golf Course (beyond the ghetto)

Earlier in the week, I made the long subway/bus trip out to Marine Park GC to have a chit-chat with Evan, the head pro. While I was there, I played a few holes and collected some nice photos I thought I'd share.

MPGC is located in far-flung Brooklyn, along the southern shore. It was designed in 1964 by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. Most golf enthusiasts will recognize that name, and most are surprised to learn that one of his designs actually exists here inside New York City limits.

When I first came here several years ago, the whole place was in a bad way. No pro shop, no range, no snack bar... almost nothing. The clubhouse looked like an abandoned, condemned building; usually there was just the one lone sad guy working behind the counter collecting green fees.

There was an ownership change at some point a few years ago, and since then things have improved drastically. There's now a legitimate golf atmosphere here. The staff seem to actually care about people. Out in the practice area you'll find all kinds of people, of all ages and genders working on their games. Technically this is Brooklyn, but I don't think I can really call this ghetto golf.

My trip getting here is a different story. It's a long ride on the 5 train from Union Square, through some of the rougher parts of Brooklyn, and then a particularly crappy, slow bus ride down Flatbush Avenue to the outskirts of the borough, near the Atlantic Ocean. It's ghetto. If not for the whole trip being such a heavy pain in the ass, I'd come here a lot more often.

Oh god, here we go again. Here I am in Union Square, which you might remember as the starting point of this trip. Right after I took this photo that fat kid walked by and gave me a staredown, and that kind of squashed any interest I had in photo documenting the train ride. Maybe next time.

Forty-some minutes later, here were are at Flatbush Avenue station. Man, people can be so slow walking out of the subway.

It's like, why aren't you in a hurry to get out of this stinkhole. Dammit!!!

Gah. Right out of the subway, and the Q35 bus is loading, getting ready to leave. Better hurry.

But not before taking a quick self-portrait.

Here I am riding the bus down Flatbush Avenue. This part of the trip is especially shitty. A good time to really lose yourself in the old smartphone. I'd show you more, but there's truly nothing to see along the way, you'll have to take my word for it.

About fifteen minutes later, the bus drops us off right in front of the course. I don't know about you, but when I see a golf course's initials spelled out in topiary letters, I expect quality.

Here we are on the inside. What do you call this, a foyer or something? Let's check out the pro shop before we head on out.

Oh, hello Brian. How's that novel you've been working on?

A fairly impressive selection of shoes. Evan has really done a great job with the whole shop. You can get just about any kind of golf gear you need here.

Experienced golf clubs. Always good for a laugh.

Marine Park boasts not one but TWO practice greens--one for putting and one for chipping and, would you believe it--pitching. But wait--there's more. There's even a practice bunker out there--OMG.

Here's the Trackman studio out on the range. It's the only one in New York City and one of the few in the whole state.

This range is just a few years old. It's irons only, but no one's complaining. Hitting balls to warm up before a round, now that might be normal to you. A way of life. Around here, that's an alien concept. The first six holes--that's our warmup.

And what a nice looking range. Would you look at that turf? It doesn't even need to be that lush and green, but that shows you how much they care here at Marine Park.

Hey. I think I know that guy. Let's go and say hello.

Hey, it's Mark Russ Federman. I met him and his lovely wife Maria at Dyker Beach a couple years ago. I've been lucky enough to play with the both of them on a few occasions since. Mark's the owner of Russ & Daughters, a legendary appetizing store on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, that his grandfather opened in 1914. Anyone who knows anything about great food around here knows all about Russ & Daughters. In other words Mark and his shop are kind of a big deal in these parts. So we're glad to feature him here on Legitimate Golf.

If all that wasn't enough, Mark recently wrote a book about the family business: Russ & Daughters: Reflections and Recipes from the House That Herring Built. Oh how quaint, you say. He wrote a little memoir. Well, it happened to make the New York Times friggin' Bestseller List. Mark is a real funny guy, a handy golfer, and as I'm finding out as I read his book, a tremendous writer. It would've been nice to play nine together today, but alas--I had some more yapping and photographing to do before I could get out on the course.

The first tee. This first hole is fairly wide and straightforward. Which is a nice design feature especially considering that the next couple of holes after it are pretty brutal.

These berms and fescue grasses are recent additions to the course. Along with the flat terrain and relative lack of trees, they really add to the seaside linksy feel of this whole place.

The third hole lies next to the Belt Parkway. Beyond that is the Atlantic Ocean. Along this part of the course, the whiff of the beach is especially strong. One time I watched a seagull attempting to scarf down a big live crab in the middle of this fairway, it was crazy.

 It was nearing sunset, and I pretty much had the front nine to myself.

Here's the approach to the green on #7, probably my favorite hole on the course. Plenty of room to miss a drive on either side, and you still have an outside shot at the green if you do, but shots from the fairway are given a big advantage and I think that's what I like about it--difficult without resorting to shenanigans.

If you look closely at the horizon you can see the One World Trade Center, 9.5 miles away as the crow flies. The building's also a familiar sight from the window of my bedroom, so when I look at it from the golf course I feel a little less desolate, a little less far away from home.

A parting shot of the ninth hole. I had some real trouble putting the ball in the hole today, but it was especially nice being out here playing during the twilight hour. Nothing special golfwise, but at least I got a few scenic pics out of it.

1 comment:

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