Bethpage State Park (Black)

 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.

BB - Barclay's SignHere is the back side of the clubhouse.

BB - Clubhouse 1This is another photo of the clubhouse.  The restaurant is located in the windowed section.

BB - Clubhouse 2A very informative rock next to the first tee can be seen below.

BB - Rock SignYou know I had to show you the sign warning golfers what they are getting into.  Trust me, as you will see, this sign holds a lot of truth.

BB - Sign

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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.

BB 1-1Here is the approach shot from a little over 100 yards.

BB 1-2The green has a narrow opening, as seen below.

BB 1-3Hole 2 – 354 yards – Par 4

The second bends to the left and plays uphill.  A nice little draw plays well here.

BB 2-1The second shot plays severely uphill.

BB 2-2The green, as with many others, is quite flat.  Your biggest challenges on this course are definitely tee to green.

BB 2-3Hole 3 – 158 yards – Par 3

The wind was swirling here when we played making club selection difficult.  Either way, you want to avoid the bunkers on the left.

BB 3-1Here is a shot of the large green.

BB 3-2I wanted to show a closer look at the bunkers.  These things are deep and make for a tough up and down.

BB 3-3Here is a closer shot of the green and hole location.

BB 3-4Hole 4 – 461 yards – Par 5

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.

BB 4-1This is the view for the actual tee shot.  There is a good bit of room on this shot.

BB 4-2The second shot is blind and plays over a large bunker.  For your score’s sake you must clear the sand.

BB 4-3The approach plays uphill over more bunkers.  The green is not overly large so you must focus on distance control.

BB 4-4The green can be seen in the photo below.

BB 4-5Hole 5 – 423 yards – Par 4

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.

BB 5-1The green sits atop a hill and you will usually be coming in with a longer iron.  I will let the picture tell the rest of the story.

BB 5-2Here is the green.

BB 5-3Hole 6 – 386 yards – Par 4

The sixth features a blind tee shot.  Knowing the line or having a caddy is a big advantage.

BB 6-1The rolling fairway gives way to a heavily bunkered green that is penal if you miss.

BB 6-2Here 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.

BB 6-3The photo below looks back up the fairway from the green to show the elevation change.

BB 6-4Hole 7 – 502 yards – Par 5 

The lines can sometimes be tough to latch onto at Bethpage.  Commit to a line on this tee shot and hit your best.

BB 7-1The plaque below illustrates that the seventh is much tougher for the pros.  This was located just off our tee box.  This makes for a really stout par four.

BB 7-2The second shot is fairly open to go for it or lay up.

BB 7-3The third shot is wide open for a wedge.

BB 7-4The flat green surface.

BB 7-5Hole 8 – 191 yards – Par 3 

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.

BB 8-1A little more zoomed in version.

BB 8-2This photo shows the large size of the green on the eighth.

BB 8-3Hole 9 – 385 yards – Par 4

The ninth allows for any type of tee shot.  As usual, a long, straight one will work great.

BB 9-1As has been the theme so far in the round, the approach plays uphill to a guarded green.

BB 9-2Another flattish green.  I would say the only weakness from a design standpoint is the green complexes.

BB 9-3Hole 10 – 434 yards – Par 4

This another long hole.  Give the big stick all you have!

BB 10-1The approach is all out in front of you on the tenth.

BB 10-2Here is the putting surface.

BB 10-3Hole 11 – 421 yards – Par 4

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.

BB 11-1The second shot is thankfully not uphill.  Any miss, however, will likely find a sand trap.

BB 11-2Below is a closer shot of the approach and green complex.

BB 11-3And one more photo of the green.

BB 11-4Hole 12 – 432 yards – Par 4

At this point I was starting to have a bit of deja vu.  Another long drive is required on this hole.

BB 12-1Some shorter drives will have to contend with this view on the approach.

BB 12-2This is much better, the view from the top of the hill in the fairway.

BB 12-3The green is open in front if you desire to play a running shot

BB 12-4Hole 13 – 480 yards – Par 5 

This is a shorter par five, but it still seemed to play long.  A power fade is the best play here.

BB 13-1This photo shows the second shot from quite a ways out.

BB 13-2Again the approach plays to a well bunkered green.  The trap to the right of the green is particularly deep and difficult.

BB 13-3Here is a photo of the putting surface.

BB 13-4Hole 14 – 152 yards – Par 3 

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.

BB 14-1Here is a photo of the large green.

BB 14-2Hole 15 – 430 yards – Par 4

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.

BB 15-1This is the zoomed in version.

BB 15-2The second shot plays way up the hill and over some deep bunkers.  This is not a shot you want to leave short.

BB 15-3Here is the green that greets you at the top of the mountain.

BB 15-4Hole 16 – 457 yards – Par 4

Luckily, this hole plays downhill.  The wind was howling into us though negating the advantage of hitting down the slope.

BB 16-1As you can see from the photo below, I didn’t hit my tee shot straight!

BB 16-2The green is seen below.

BB 16-3Hole 17 – 195 yards – Par 3 

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.

BB 17-1Below is the view from the large front bunker where I hit my tee shot.  Imagine trying to play this shot with a US Open on the line!

BB 17-2This green is one of the most undulating of the eighteen.  The ridge runs the length of the green splitting it into two distinct tiers.

BB 17-3Hole 18 – 394 yards – Par 4

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!

BB 18-1The approach plays, you guessed it, uphill.  It shouldn’t be anymore than a mid to low iron though.

BB 18-2Here is a photo from the porch looking back down on the green and up the fairway.  This is a satisfying picture after a difficult round on the Black.

BB 18-3

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!

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5 thoughts on “Bethpage State Park (Black)

  1. Pingback: Mid Year Newsletter | Tiger Golf Traveler

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