Press-Republican

September 16, 2013

Local student interns at exclusive golf club

By DAN HEATH
Press-Republican

---- — PLATTSBURGH — What a way to spend a summer.

Former Plattsburgh High School student Lucas Wood, now a sophomore at SUNY Delhi, worked a three-month internship at Liberty National Golf Club, site of the recent Barclay's Championship won by Adam Scott.

The Jersey City, N.J., course, which cost an estimated $250 million to build, offers views of the New York City skyline and the Statue of Liberty.

Wood said the panorama is awesome.

"You feel you could reach out and touch it," he said of Lady Liberty, which is about 700 yards from the 18th green.

The exterior of the gleaming clubhouse is almost 90 percent glass and cost $60 million alone. Liberty National has its own helipad and offers jet-boat taxi service from several locations in New York City.

IMPRESSIVE BOSS

Wood sent his resume to a number of golf courses, and Liberty National was one of the few that responded. His duties included work on the driving range, setting up golf carts for members and serving as a valet.

Liberty National Director of Golf Steve Napoli is widely known throughout the golf industry, Wood said.

References from someone like that will be a great benefit after graduation, he said.

"He told me, 'If you work for me for a summer, I work for you for the rest of my life,'" Wood said.

FORMER BROWNFIELD

The course is owned by Fireman Capital Partners Chairman Paul Fireman and founding Managing Partner Dan Fireman. Paul was also CEO of Reebok until he sold it to Adidas in 2006.

The club has 144 members, including many CEOs of large corporations. 

"They are probably the nicest people you could meet. They treated us well," Wood said.

The architects were the renowned team of Bob Cupp and former PGA golfer Tom Kite.

Liberty National was built on an old brownfield site, which needed to be buried in dirt and then sealed before the course could be constructed on top.

CELEBRITY VISITORS

During The Barclays, Wood worked on the driving range. His tasks included cleaning and sorting range balls then giving them to the players, as each golfer has his own preferred brand.

Things got hectic after two rain delays, as all 125 golfers descended on the range at once. Usually, they arrive at staggered times, based on when they are scheduled to start their round.

The course hosts a number of other events throughout the season. One, a benefit for the Newark Mentoring Movement, was put on by Newark Mayor Cory Booker and former National Football League great Michael Strahan.

Celebrities included Tiki Barber, Justin Tuck, Isiah Thomas, George Lopez and Jason Kidd.

Strahan even talked about the outing on his TV show, "Live with Kelly and Michael."

'BREATHTAKING'

Wood was a six-year member of the Plattsburgh High School golf team.  His major is business and professional golf management, which requires a three-month internship at a golf course during a student's first three years and a seven-month internship during the senior year.

After graduation, Wood hopes to land a job as a PGA-certified golf professional. 

He and the other interns were allowed to play after 3 p.m. Sometimes, he even played from the tips, which stretches the course to 7,458 yards.

"It is breathtaking and intimidating," he said.

Wood said he had several favorite holes. One is the first, a dogleg right par 4 with water on the right.

The second hole, a par 3 with views of the city and Statue of Liberty, was a favorite because of the scenic backdrop. 

"It almost looks like it's (the statue) holding up the flag," he said.

Email Dan Heath: dheath@pressrepublican.com