On Sunday, I had the tremendous good fortune to be invited to join a twelve-man outing at Liberty National Golf Course, in Jersey City, New Jersey, directly across the Hudson River from lower Manhattan. I employed a labor-saving technique I’ve often used during visits to other rich-guy golf clubs: I wore my sorriest-looking pair of shoes, knowing that the locker-room guy would fully resuscitate them while we were playing. During a multi-day trip Pine Valley ten or fifteen years ago, I took three sorry-looking pairs of shoes and left them outside my door sequentially. I went home feeling like a new man.
Liberty National was designed by Tom Kite and Bob Cupp, and it was built, in 2006, on a desolate industrial site. (I’ve seen a variety of cost estimates, all of which have nine digits.) The Barclays—which used to be known as the Westchester Classic, and then as the Buick Classic—was held there in 2009, and it will be held there again in August. Tour players grumbled about the course the first time. Since then, Kite and Cupp have made many changes, and either the changes have been effective or I don’t know what I’m talking about, because I liked the course a lot. And the clubhouse is the only starkly modernistical one I’ve ever been in that I fully approve of.
Partway through our round, I apologized to my caddie for having forgotten to remove a couple of nonessential items from my golf bag. (I’ve gotten a little lazy about on-course housekeeping in recent years, because at home I now almost always use a pushcart.) The bag can’t have been too bad, though, because I still occasionally carry it myself. Here is some of what was in it:
The photo above shows my selection of lucky ball markers for that day. Clockwise from lower left: a souvenir marker from Royal County Down, a necessity because of the sublimity, transcendence, immanence, etc., of that course; a souvenir marker from a casino in Connecticut, useful because it has four colored pointy things, any one of which can be aimed at the hole; a Norwegian coin with an actual hole in the middle of it; a Moroccan coin featuring King Hassan II, who loved golf, wore golf gloves on both hands, and was accompanied during golf rounds by a servant whose only job was to use a pair of silver tongs to hold the king’s cigarette while swung; a one-something coin from Dubai, which I often use when I absolutely have to one-putt; a big old Mexican coin with some guy on it; a Colombian coin featuring what appear to me to be balls, holes, and “aiming chutes.”
When I wrote about (a slightly different selection of) lucky ball markers, last year, I said that when I used a coin with a guy’s head on it I aimed the top the head at the hole. Michael Clark, a reader, wrote to say that, on the final day of a three-day-tournament at his club, he had discovered a better way. “The eyes of the coin had to be looking at the hole,” he wrote. “When the eyes lined up to the hole the putts were dropping! Also, it had to be the same coin. So, if the coin has eyes, line them up!” Since then, I have field-tested Clark’s method, and adopted it.
The photo above is of what is probably the luckiest green-repair tool I’ve ever owned. I got it at a super-secretive golf club called Morefar Back O’ Beyond, which straddles the border between Danbury, Connecticut, and Brewster, New York.
Morefar used to be owned by the disgraced insurance company A.I.G. I played there a dozen years ago as the guest of one of the club’s handful of local members. Only a tiny number of golfers are allowed out each day, and the only other group on the course on the day we were there was that of the Sultan of Brunei, who teed off before we did. He and his retinue were almost comically slow, but, it turns out, you don’t play through the Sultan of Brunei. On an airplane recently, I saw a guy (in first class) who had a Morefar attaché case in his lap. I gave him the secret sign of brotherhood (by showing him my green-repair tool) as I walked past him on my way to the back of the plane, but he cut me dead.
The item above is roll-on sunscreen, which I use as “lip balm.” The tube is at least half again as big as a ChapStick tube, and the stuff is waterproof. It’s especially handy in cold weather and in wind. I don’t carry ordinary sunscreen in my golf bag because I don’t believe in applying sunscreen in situ. I once told someone that if I ever ran for President my platform would have just three planks. I don’t recall what the first two were, but the third was that everyone would have to put on their sunscreen at home, before they went to the golf course, the swimming pool, or wherever. Sunscreen is much easier to apply when you aren’t wearing clothes, and it works better if it’s had some time to soak in. When I see young parents at the beach trying to squirt sunscreen onto squirming, uncooperative children, I think: “An hour ago, your children were naked and not covered with sand; why didn’t you think of doing this then? When I’m the President, we’ll have no more of this nonsense.”
Several readers have sent me descriptions of what’s in their own bag. As promised, I will soon create a new section and post several of them permanently. If you’d like to add your own bag to the pile, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include a golf-related description of yourself and at least one or two photos of your golf stuff.