Photo: Julie Zeveloff/Business Insider
It may be in view of New York City, but a day trip to Liberty National Golf Club, the waterfront golf course that opened in Jersey City in 2006, feels like a true escape.That could be because the easiest way to Liberty National from Manhattan is by catamaran. The club’s custom-built, 47-foot boat makes hourly trips from Chelsea Piers and the Financial District, and there are there are televisions and snacks on board to occupy members during the 15-minute ride.
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Club members, who include Rudy Giuliani, Phil Mickelson, Matt Lauer, Eli Manning, and Mark Wahlberg, can also opt to arrive by helicopter—the helipad’s located right by the first tee. Of course, members can also drive to the course, which is sandwiched between Liberty State Park and Port Liberté, a waterfront community. If they do, they’ll get a complimentary car wash while they’re out on the green.
For a course that was built on a former landfill, Liberty National gets high marks. It hosted the prestigious Barclays Golf Tournament in 2009 after Westchester Country Club passed on it, and will host the event again in 2013. Fifteen holes on the par 71, 7,346-yard course face the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan skyline.
The club, which was founded by former Reebok CEO Paul Fireman and his son Dan, eventually hopes to build out villas along the waterfront, but that project is on hold until the economy picks up. Right now a lone residence with three rental apartments stands next to the glassy clubhouse, overlooking the New York Harbor.
Membership at the club isn’t cheap, although fees have decreased significantly in the past few years. Full memberships now start in the mid-$200,000 range, compared to around $500,000 in 2009, according to New Jersey Monthly. The club is accepting new members, although it’s nearing capacity.
The golf course is located on the Jersey City waterfront, a 15-minute catamaran ride from lower Manhattan. The Statue of Liberty, in New York Harbor, is visible from most of the course.
The quickest way to get to Liberty National is by boat. This 47-foot catamaran makes stops at Chelsea Piers and Battery Park City.
The views on the way to the club are pretty incredible. We were within swimming distance of Ellis Island.
And got a rare view of the Statue of Liberty's backside. Most people never see it unless they're in Liberty State Park.
Finally, we pulled up to the club. The clubhouse (left) and villa (right) are right in front of the dock.
The 57,000-square-foot, all-glass clubhouse, which opened in 2008, is an impressive structure. It's said to have been inspired by the Sydney Opera House.
Welcome to Liberty National. The club really takes advantage of its proximity to Lady Liberty—she's even featured in the logo.
Some members skip the boats and cars, and fly in from Manhattan by helicopter. The helipad is right by the first tee.
We saw a helicopter land while we were touring the course. Two men in suits disembarked and were immediately whisked to the clubhouse in waiting golf carts.
The bar room opens at 7 a.m. for early risers. It serves until the last club member leaves at night.
The menu is displayed on an iPad—a perk that's undoubtedly a hit with the club's mostly male clientele.
Like any good golf club, the food is excellent. Executive Chef Shaun Lewis previously worked at the Pierre Hotel in Manhattan, as well as the Old Westbury Golf and Country Club on Long Island.
The 7,346-yard, par 71 course was designed by former U.S. Open champion Tom Kite and designer Bob Cupp.
Incredibly, the site was once a toxic wasteland. It's now planted with A4 grass, the finest grass used on greens, and members must wash their shoes to keep it from being contaminated.
One of the most unique features of the course is the view. Where else can one play golf in full view of Lower Manhattan?
Fifteen of 18 holes feature sweeping views like this. The course is primarily a weekday course, meaning most members golf elsewhere on the weekends.
Given the club's male-heavy roster, there are a lot more lockers in the men's room than in the women's.
The next phase of construction at Liberty National will be a row of waterfront villas. Right now, a lone villa overlooks the water.
It's occupied by three 3-bedroom apartments, which members can rent. One is reserved for the club's owners.
The master bedrooms have floor-to-ceiling windows with panoramic views of the river and Manhattan skyline.
The best thing about the club is probably its proximity to Manhattan. It's close enough for an afternoon game on a summer Friday, but far enough that it feels like an oasis for golfers, if they can afford it.
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