Hackensack Golf Club Ready to Show Off Historic Renovations
Courtesy of Brendan Prunty
If you walk around the expansive veranda and back patio area of Hackensack Golf Club’s clubhouse, chances are you’ll hear two topics of conversation among the membership these days. How their rounds went; Or, talk about how the course is going back in time.
“It’s amazing how many members here are into the history, into the architecture,” Hackensack’s general manager Norm Forsyth said. “Whether it’s Banks or Raynor or Macdonald or Tillinghast. There’s a real strong interest in the culture of this club. Guys know what a Biarritz is. What an Eden hole is. What the Short hole is. There’s been a lot of education.”
Take a walk around the renovated 6,934-yard layout at the 114-year old club and its easy to see why its become a golf-geek speak haven. Hackensack has spend the better part of the last six years taking its golf course back to the way it once was — and in the process, has unearthed a number of treasures that the course architect, Charles Banks, never even got to in his original construction.
Beginning in 2007, the club — through a series of discussions and finding of original layout plans by Banks once lost in its basement — began a master plan to renovate the golf course. But it all started with trying to restore a bunker behind the 13th hole, which sparked the interest in going further.
Noted golf course architect Rees Jones of Montclair was brought in to supervise the project, but later was called back once the club decided it didn’t want to stop there.
“The past five or so, it’s been a modified restoration of what was there,” said Steve Weisser, who was one of the designers heading the project for Jones’ firm. “It wasn’t about lengthening it — we didn’t add any length. It was really more about the restoration project. And it’s still ongoing.”
Hackensack still has another few offseason cycles of restoration work left, but for the most part the course is back to what it was. And there have been some tweaking of the initial Banks design to accommodate the modern player, which blend into the layout of the course.
“This was a fun one, because the club has a real history to it,” Weisser said. “They have a real vision of what they’re trying to get to. It’s something that fits the golf course. It’s not just an old copy of what was on the original map.”
It will get its first official unveiling — and test — when the state’s best golfers arrive next week for the 93rd NJSGA Open Championship, but there’s no doubting that it will hold up just fine. After all, during the duration of the project, Hackensack uncovered a number of bunkers that had been planned by Banks, but never carried out.
Chief among them: A massive bunker that runs along the side of the 11th fairway for more than 150 yards and sits almost eight feet below the fairway. On the original design unearthed and now hanging in Hackensack’s men’s locker room, it’s there. But until a few years ago, it never actually existed.
“He drew it, but never built it, but it was there — so we built it,” Forsyth said.
Then there’s the twisting, deep bunker which splits the ninth and 18th greens. Hackensack knew that existed, but never the depth of it until Weisser’s team — with the help of course superintendent, Rich Lane — found the original sand which had been covered over decades prior.
“It’s really interesting stuff,” Forsyth said. “There’s a culture of interest about it here and the members like it. You walk through the grill room and you hear them talking about it. And then they’re having more fun playing it, when you see what Charles Banks originally intended for you to play this course.”