PlainfieldMetOpen by evanrothman


									                                                                                                                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 .•

Big Time
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


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