A Dream Opportunity for Golf-Loving Dads

Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City Courtesy of PGA Tour

Do you have a dad who loves golf? The Northern Trust at Liberty National Golf Club, taking place August 6–11 in Jersey City, offers a Father’s Day gift that will lock in your status as dad’s favorite. Each competition-round ticket (Thursday–Sunday) purchased through June 21 comes with a chance to win a “Dream Foursome” experience at Liberty National. The winner will get to play on August 13—just two days after some of the world’s best players have walked the same fairways.

But even just a trip to watch the Northern Trust would be a win for dad (or any golf aficionado). In 2019, the PGA Tour contracted its playoff format from four tournaments to three, raised the purse for the FedEx Cup champion from $10 million to $15 million and doubled the bonus pool to $70 million, placing even more importance on the Northern Trust, the first of the three playoff events. A field of 125 golfers will compete; only 70 will move on to the second playoff, the BMW Championship. From there, 30 golfers will advance to the Tour Championship.

“This tournament will rival a Major,” says PGA tour senior vice president Julie Tyson, executive director of the Northern Trust. “We’ll have the top players playing at the peak of their season. Because it’s the first playoff, no one can sit it out. And the money has created a lot more pressure. We wanted this to be almost vomit-inducing when they tee it up.”

Along with defending champ Bryson DeChambeau, who won this tournament last summer at Ridgewood Country Club, fans can expect to see all of golf’s heavy hitters, including Tiger Woods, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose. And they’ll watch these stars play on a course like no other: Situated along the Hudson River, the course is just 2,000 yards from the Statue of Liberty, and offers views of the Manhattan skyline and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

Courtesy of PGA Tour

Liberty National’s compact parameters and brick-paved cart paths make for an easily walkable course and a tournament experience that is ideal for families. Children under 18 receive free entry all week when accompanied by a ticketed adult—grounds tickets are just $35 for practice rounds on Tuesday and Wednesday—and spectators can bring in their own food (in clear plastic bags). Concessions will include Jersey City institutions Pizza Vita and Torico Ice Cream, along with Shake Shack, Sticky’s Finger Joint and Luke’s Lobster. Visitors can also shop in stores like Nordstrom and Bonobos, or try out an on-site Top Golf simulator.

A highlight of the 7,370-yard course—designed by 1992 U.S. Open champion Tom Kite and prominent course architect Bob Cupp—is the 150-yard, par-3 No. 14, which boasts prime views of Lady Liberty. “As you think about the competition, 14 will be a deciding hole on the golf course,” Tyson says. “And it’s also beautiful. All along the right side is the Hudson River, and on the left is all sand.”

Other interesting holes include No. 6, a 538-yard par 5 that produced 22 eagles during the 2013 Barclays (which had the same course layout as the 2019 Northern Trust); and No. 9, which was the toughest hole of the 2013 tournament. Spectators who want to get off their feet can visit the 325-yard, par 4 No. 16, which features a shaded grandstand above the drivable green. A second shaded grandstand overlooks No. 17’s green and No. 18’s tee box. Fans can also watch golfers warm up on the driving range, then keep track of their favorite players’ scores and positions on the course with the PGA Tour app.

For the duration of the tournament, Uber will be allowed to drop off riders on-site. Free shuttles will also be provided from garages at Newport Center in Jersey City.

Grounds tickets for Thursday and Friday are $60; for Saturday and Sunday, $70.A weekly grounds pass is $195; higher-level hospitality experiences begin at $160. Active-military members and military veterans also are admitted free; veterans can receive two free tickets. For tickets, visit or call 844-868-7465.

Click here to leave a comment

Meet the Philadelphia Union’s Youngest Hometown Player

Medford’s Brenden Aaronson Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Union

Most of Brenden Aaronson’s best buddies in Medford are finishing up their last days of senior year and getting ready for college in the fall. Aaronson is on a different path.

Aaronson started playing this spring with the Philadelphia Union, one of 24 Major League Soccer teams. The 18-year-old midfielder is the youngest homegrown player the Union has signed.

“From the time I was eight years old, I wanted to be a professional soccer player,” says Aaronson.

Growing up, Aaronson also played lacrosse and basketball, but soccer was different. He even loved practice. “There just was nothing like it,” he recalls.

Aaronson’s father, Rusty, who played soccer at Monmouth University, recognized Brenden’s skills early and started Real New Jersey, an all-star club team, to help develop his son’s skills. Aaronson spent a year at Shawnee High School before being selected for the Philadelphia Union Youth Academy, a program for elite players.

“We practice from 8:30 to 10:30, then go to classes until 3:30,” says Aaronson, who finished his coursework at the academy last fall.

Despite his commitment to his sport, Aaronson says he’s still the same Brenden. “My friends will tell you I am the same kid who has played all sports with them since we were little kids.”

Aaronson was recruited by Indiana University, but when the Union offered a contract, he couldn’t refuse.

“When a dream comes true,” he says, “you have to go with it.”

Click here to leave a comment

There are no photos with those IDs or post 214417 does not have any attached images!

“City of Champions” Honors Garfield Football Star Benny Babula

Courtesy of Freedom 365

When Hank Gola was growing up in Garfield, there was no greater legend than Benny Babula.

Babula owned a meat-distribution business in the Bergen County city. “We kids would go over to the place and marvel at how he would throw a big side of beef over his shoulders,” says Gola, a former sportswriter for the New York Post and New York Daily News.

But Babula’s legend was based on more than beef. In his high school days, Babula was the best football player in Garfield history. On one incredible Christmas day in 1939, he led Garfield High School to a 16-13 victory over Miami High at the Orange Bowl, in what was acknowledged as a national-championship game. Babula, at tailback, ran 25 times for 103 yards and a touchdown, completed 6 of 10 passes, and kicked the winning field goal.

What started as a feature for the Daily News became Gola’s passion, and ultimately a book, City of Champions (Tatra Press, 2018), which exhaustively details Babula’s heroics and Garfield’s memorable season. 

“It was a tale sent down from father to son,” says Gola, who lives in Parsippany/Troy Hills.

Gola’s book captures the struggles of Depression-era Garfield, a blue-collar hive of Italian and Polish immigrants and their families, and tracks the wartime and postwar lives of their 1939 football heroes.

“I just wanted to leave a gift to my town,” says the author.

Click here to leave a comment

There are no photos with those IDs or post 207263 does not have any attached images!