Bethpage State Park (Black Course) – Played 2014
- Rankings: Golf Digest #42, Golf Digest Public #8, Golf Magazine #23, Golf Magazine Public #6
- Location: 99 Quaker Meeting House Road, Farmingdale, New York
- Year: 1936
- Architect: Joseph H. Burbeck & A.W. Tillinghast
- Course Access: Public
- Walking Rules: Walking Only, Caddies Available
Score Card Information:
- Blue: 7,468 yards, Par 71, 78.1 Rating/152 Slope
- White: 6,684 yards, Par 71, 74.0 Rating/145 Slope
- Red: 6,223 yards, Par 71, 77.8 Rating/150 Slope
This is going to be really fun! That’s what I was thinking going into my round at Bethpage Black and boy was I right! Let’s go through a little background on the course. Opened in 1936, the course has hosted many big tournaments including the 2002 and 2009 U.S. Opens (won by Clemson’s own Lucas Glover) as well as multiple Barclays tournaments. In addition, the course will host the 2019 PGA Championship and 2024 Ryder Cup.
The golf facility is quite impressive. There are four other courses besides the Black, all of which seem to get favorable reviews. Once you arrive, however, you quickly realize you are at a municipal track. The range is not luxurious at all. I will have to say that I did not go through the well-known process of playing the course. You may know the stories about people camping overnight to get tee times. I did see these people in the parking lot! Luckily, I was playing with my new friend Danilo and he got us the NY resident privilege of getting a tee time a week in advance.
You can see in the photo below that they publicize some of their events. This sign is right beside the first tee.
Hole 1 – 429 yards – Par 4
The first shot of your day is pretty wide open, but keep in mind there is usually a gallery watching which makes the shot somewhat nervy. Off to the right of the trees up the right side is the first hole of the Green course. This is the shortest route to the green, but it is marked out of bounds when the pros come to town. I was lucky on my trip here as the wind was whipping down the hole and allowed me to pound one over the clump of trees on the right side.
The second bends to the left and plays uphill. A nice little draw plays well here.
The wind was swirling here when we played making club selection difficult. Either way, you want to avoid the bunkers on the left.
This is an incredible view and the picture I had in my head when I thought about the course. This is from the hill above the tee box.
This hole is a real beast. It plays even tougher for me since I don’t like to move it left to right. Depending on how far you hit the ball more of the fairway bunker can be challenged.
The sixth features a blind tee shot. Knowing the line or having a caddy is a big advantage.
Here is a closer shot of the green. In case you hadn’t noticed, the rough is very lush. If you miss the fairways you almost have to chip out to advance it where you want it. The greenside shots are also incredibly difficult as well.
The lines can sometimes be tough to latch onto at Bethpage. Commit to a line on this tee shot and hit your best.
This is the downhill tee shot on the first par three. Your first objective is to carry the water and hit the green for a chance at birdie.
The ninth allows for any type of tee shot. As usual, a long, straight one will work great.
This another long hole. Give the big stick all you have!
There is no rest for the weary on the Black. The fairway is hidden, but is just beyond the scruffy grass where the caddy is standing.
At this point I was starting to have a bit of deja vu. Another long drive is required on this hole.
This is a shorter par five, but it still seemed to play long. A power fade is the best play here.
This is a great hole with plenty of trouble. The bunker in front is well below the green. It is incredibly tough to make par if you dump your tee shot in that sand.
The fifteenth begins the very hard stretch of holes after you cross the road. It plays long and extremely uphill. Hitting your tee shot in the fairway is critical here to set up a manageable approach shot.
Luckily, this hole plays downhill. The wind was howling into us though negating the advantage of hitting down the slope.
You can barely see the flag here for all of that sand. A well struck tee shot is crucial to set up a shot at birdie.
There are a lot of complaints with the last hole on the Black. I suppose I understand somewhat because of how long the pros hit the ball. However, if you lay up and get into the bunkers things could go awry quickly. Either way, if a tour player gets through the last three holes unscathed then maybe he deserves a bit of a break on the last hole!
Wow! That is my first thought after completing the round. The course is very challenging. I mean that from the standpoint of hitting golf shots as well as walking. The course will definitely beat you up if you are not playing well. That being said, I still had a great time. The course is a very worthy championship host.
The only gripe I would have is that there were virtually no places to get water. There is a snack hut on the sixth tee and one water fountain that I saw. I would say that what came out of the fountain was not drinkable. I know it’s a municipal course, but when you make walking mandatory I think you need to have ample places to get water. It’s not a huge gripe, but something that could be fixed easily. Instead we were loading up our bags with drinks! They also wanted to charge my wife $75 to walk along with us. I’m sorry, but that’s ridiculous.
Enough of that negativity, none of which was enough to mar a wonderful time playing a US Open course. By all means, get to the complex and tee it up!