The Simon & Schuster Editor with a Personal Putting Green.
A fan of golf since childhood, Joﬁe Ferrari-Adler put an artificial putting green in his Brooklyn back yard as a fortieth birthday present to himself.
December 20, 2017
Jofie Ferrari-Adler looks young enough to be the president of the student council, but he’s actually an executive editor at Simon & Schuster. When he turned forty, he decided that the only birthday present he wanted was an artificial putting green in the back yard of his family’s house, which is across the street from Prospect Park, in Brooklyn.
“I’ve wanted one since I was ten,” he said the other day. His yearning was not foreseeable at his birth: his father was a hippie and his mother was an ex-nun, and they had met while counselling draft resisters during the Vietnam War. Their home was a farm in southwestern Pennsylvania; the marriage broke up when Jofie was four, in part because his mother didn’t like the fact that the marijuana was growing higher than the corn. Jofie discovered golf as a child, when his mother began dropping him off at a local public course early on summer mornings and picking him up late in the afternoon, hoping to give him something inexpensive to do that would last all day. “It was great for her, because she was a single mom, and it was great for me, because you’re kind of growing up on a golf course,” he said. “You’re hanging out with old men and learning about girls and playing cards and drinking beer and things like that.”
To build his birthday present, he hired Michael Lehrer, whose company, Home Green Advantage, has installed hundreds of synthetic greens in the metropolitan area—including two in Lehrer’s own back yard, in Armonk. He is tall and fidgety, and he’s so abundantly supplied with hyperkinetic professional enthusiasm that his e-mails often arrive in afterthought-laden barrages. Quite a few of his clients are well known. “I did Jimmy Buffett’s course, in Sag Harbor,” he said, while taking a water break on a small deck off Ferrari-Adler’s kitchen, overlooking the back yard. “He’s a really good guy—he looks like Larry David. I did Kenneth Cole. I did the floating green at GlenArbor Golf Club, in Bedford. I did two soccer fields at Greenwich Country Day School. I’ve done most of the big real-estate people in the city: Ratner, Silverstein, Milstein. Give me some other names—I probably did stuff for them, too.”
“I did a big golf thing on the roof of Trump Tower at City Center, in White Plains. And he paid me.”
Ferrari-Adler’s yard is tightly bordered by a tall privet hedge, a fence, and a gate that opens onto an alley, and it’s nowhere near as spacious as a Trump roof.
“This green is about eighteen or twenty by twelve,” Lehrer said. “So maybe two hundred square feet, two-twenty-five.”
Ferrari-Adler laughed. “He may be exaggerating a little bit.”
“We use the term ‘rounded feet.’ ”
“This is the smallest one you’ve ever done, right?”
“You’ve built smaller greens than this? I find that hard to believe.”
“Well, basement greens. Office greens,” Lehrer said. “I usually do those on a wooden deck—a little four-inch platform—so that I can cut holes in it.”
To prepare Ferrari-Adler’s yard for its covering of plastic grass, Lehrer had to maneuver his truck down a side street and into the alley. “You know, a golf green is not like a lawn,” he said. “If the ball starts turning an eighth of an inch two years from now, it’s because something down below decomposed. So you have to take out all the organic material and replace it with crushed rock.”
Lehrer hollered instructions from above, and two helpers arranged fringe pieces around the perimeter of the putting surface, which was slightly kidney-shaped. The fringe pieces looked like green shag bathroom rugs.
“This project is great, and I love this guy, but it’s just tough to get to Brooklyn,” Lehrer said. “The hardest thing about these projects is logistics. When you do Manhattan, you’re, like, Am I going to have to get a crane or a helicopter to get shit up here?” Still, he said, he was pleased with the result. “It’s like seeing a cake come together, isn’t it?” ♦
This article appears in the print edition of the October 23, 2017, issue, with the headline “Fore!”