of the famed "lost bunkers of Plainfield" -
mostly sight bunkers for visual appeal that
had been covered over to save on mainte-
nance expenses during the Great Depres-
sion and World War II. Several holes were
also brought back to their original design,
while Hanse wrought an entirely new 18th
hole, a dogleg-left par 4 that can be set up
to be drivable (and which will be the 9th
hole in the Met Open, as the MGA is flip-
ping the two nines for the championship).
McGovern also noted that new, shaved
greenside runoff areas demand more preci-
sion iron play and put added emphasis on
2'50 \ t>lrOlJ'
'~$\fv~~1 a quality short game. Some things just feel
'", .. .1.1;0 different after a quarter-century-"The
This year's New York State Open champion, Dan Balin of Burning Tree (left), has had strong greens seem more undulating now:'he said.
showings in recent Met Opens. Mike Burke Jr. won the last Met Open at Plainfield, in 1997. For all that, McGovern says that Plainfield's
Open runner-up Dan Balin of Burning Shell Houston Open on the PGA Tour and essential character remains the same.
Tree Country Club in Greenwich, Conn.; calls his Met Open among his top three golf- "It's just a great test of golf-a fair course,
17-year-old Jim Liu of Stone ridge, the 20 10 ing achievements. "Plainfield may seem a where if you hit ago ods hot you'll be reward-
U.S. Junior Amateur champion; last year's little friendlier now because you can see a ed, and squirrel- y hits will cost you."
MGA Player of the Year, Mike Miller of lot more and it looks wide open,butifs defi- The course has a tradition of producing
Knollwood; and 18 former Met Open nitely grown a couple morefangs." top- notch Met Open champions: Wes Ellis
champions. Plainfield will indeed look different than Jr. in 1957 and 1963 (when he topped two-
Among those past titlists in the field is it did some decade and a half ago. It more time major winner Doug Ford by 5 shots);
1987 winner Jim McGovern, who captured closely resembles its debut appearance in Bill Britton in 1979 (also triumphant in
the title at Winged Foot as an amateur and 1921, following a renovation by architect the 1976 Met Amateur at Plainfield); and
the next year won the Met Amateur at Plain- Gil Hanse (recently selected to create the Mike Burke Jr. in 1997. With such a strong
field. He returned for the first time since course for the 2016 Summer Olympics in field in place, another winner with a strong
1988 to play in last year's PCC pro- member Rio de Janeiro) that began in 2004 and large- resume is likely; then again, anyone who
event. ly concluded just prior to last year's Barclays. tops this field over 54 holes on this world-
"The course was darker then, because Perhaps the two most sweeping alterations class course can't help but be a deserving,
there were so many more trees," said were the removal of some 1,500 trees, none history-making champion in his own
McGovern, who went on to win the 1993 original to Ross's design, and the reopening right .•
After his first national triumph, a local pro for six years, wintering in Florida Edison, N.J.,as one of the
gets ready for the Met Open to play mini-tours and continue favorites-at least in others'
Matt Dobyns's emphatic victory at the 2012 his PGAteaching education, minds. The player himself says
PGAProfessional National Championship in before three-time Met Open that he knows nothing about
Seaside, Calif.,the seventh in the coveted event champion Darrell Kestner hired the course and, 8-shot
for a Met Section member, came with lots of him at Deepdale Golf Club in victories notwithstanding,
goodies. The 34-year-old head pro at Fresh Manhasset, N.Y.Kestner also claims not to traffic in
Meadow Country Club in Lake Success, N.Y., became his coach, a role he expectations anymore.
earned $75,000, a spot in the 2012 PGA retains even after Dobyns's "Ijust try to enjoy myself
Championship at Kiawah Island (S.c.) Resort's departure for Fresh Meadow and play the golf course to the
Ocean Course, and six PGATour exemptions for this past January-although, best of my ability, and my
the next 12 months. He also knocked Sam thanks to Kestner's own 13th- ability seems to change on a
Snead out of the record book: His eight-stroke place finish in the PNC(an event daily basis;' says Dobyns. "IfI
triumph, on 13-under 275, bested Snead's he won in 1996), he joined his charge in the could reproduce the form that won the
1971 PNCmargin of victory by three shots. PGAChampionship field at the Ocean Course. Professional National Championship every
"It's quite an honor to be mentioned in the "Iasked Darrell to look at my swing the first time out, we wouldn't be having this
same breath as Sam Snead;' Dobyns says. "He's day of work;' Dobyns says. "He's proven time conversation:'
probably rolling over in his grave giving up his and again that he knows how to play golf at a Even still, it's a good bet that Dobyns will
record to a guy like me:' very high level, and it's great to have someone make noise at Plainfield, as he'll have a week to
The affable Dobyns, a former University of like that in your corner, because Istill like to try recuperate from the punishing Ocean Course
Texas player, came to the Met Area in the fall of to shoot low scores:' at Kiawah Island before tackling the difficult
2003 as an assistant pro at Hudson National Closer to home, Dobyns now enters the greens and strategic nuances of Plainfield.
GolfClub in Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y.He stayed 97th Met Open at Plainfield Country Club in Maybe he'll even manage a practice round.
56 THE MET GOLFER· AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2012 WWW.MGAGOLF.ORG