Bethpage (Black) - New York - USA

Bethpage State Park,
99 Quaker Meetinghouse Road,
Farmingdale,
New York (NY) 11735,
USA


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  • Bethpage State Park, Farmingdale, New York

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When the USGA announced that the 2002 US Open Championship would be held on the Black course at Bethpage State Park in New York, little did they know what they were letting themselves in for. Not only was this to become the first publicly owned and operated course to stage a US Open, but the pre-Open media hype suggested that the Black was far too easy and there would be record scoring. But they were wrong. Players unanimously agreed that the Black was one of the finest courses in the world, a supreme test of golf and eminently fair.

The 102nd US Open was a defining moment for Bethpage Black and it was fitting that Tiger Woods emerged victorious at Farmingdale in 2002. But Noo Yawkers in the know realised that this was the jewel of the Bethpage State Park’s 90-hole complex from the day the Black course opened way back in 1936.

Only one player bettered par in the 2002 event and only five players broke par when the US Open returned to the State Park in 2009. Only time will tell how tough the Black will be set for the 2024 Ryder Cup matches.

Joseph H. Burbeck, a superintendent at the State Park, was the driving force and the project manager who led the construction of the Black, and A.W. Tillinghast was his consultant. The Black really is as difficult and penal as the high slope rating suggests. It’s not for the faint hearted, with narrow fairways, tangly rough, plateaux greens and huge sculptured bunkers. You need to be on top of your game to score well on the "Black Leopard" as Tillinghast used to call the course. For all those macho men out there, it’s recommended that you play from the forward tees, which have a course rating of 73.1.

So, are you up for the Black challenge? If so, which tee will you choose?

Bethpage Black's 15th hole - "Mount Olympus"

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Reviews for Bethpage (Black)

Average Reviewers Score:
Description: The Bethpage Black course really is as difficult and penal as the high slope rating suggests. It’s not for the faint hearted. Rating: 9.3 out of 10 Reviews: 18
TaylorMade
papa rabbi
Bethpage Black….wow! Muslims have Mecca, Catholics have Lourdes and we golfers have Bethpage Black. It really is a pilgrimage: a 0315 train from Penn Station to Farmingdale, arriving at the course at 0420 I managed to get the 5th parking slot where I slept with my bag as a pillow for an hour! It was worth it though as my early arrival translated into getting out onto the course in the first group at 0651…perfect. By way of advice if you are planning a trip: the traffic started building up soon after 0500 so it is worth getting there before then. There are of course those that sleep in their cars; last Friday there were 4 of them. By 0530, when the ranger came around, there were about 30 cars parked up. Don’t forget though that many golfers don’t play the Black, certainly the red is just as popular, if not more so, for the locals. Anyway, to the golf.

The course starts with 4 relatively straight forward holes. The par 4 first requires a solid drive, the par 3 second a long iron and an accurate yardage to carry the trouble and the third is the only par 4 less than 400 yards long (from the tips). Then, after this gentle(ish) start the course warms up. The 4th, a par 5 is one of the best holes in golf. As you walk off the third green the beauty of it hits you like a Mike Tyson left hook. It is a sensational hole, then the fifth: 478 yards up hill, to a raised green guarded by two very deep front bunkers; play it as a par five! The sixth to ninth are all strong holes, none of which can be trifled at. Then starts the back nine, which at just under 4000 yards long is brutal if you can’t get it off the tee! The tenth is a par 4 and 505 yards into the prevailing wind. I was told that it was this hole, during the 2002 US Open, that forced Nick Price to move to the Champions Tour; in 4 rounds he didn’t make the fairway once! The eleventh presents a semi blind drive, the twelth is another 500+ yard par 4 (pray that on the day the tees are up or you’ll never carry the cross bunkers at 283 yards. Thirteen is a great long par 5 (605 yards) with trouble up the left. Fourteen a gentle par 3, but you mustn’t be long. Then starts the NY version of Amen corner: 15, 16, 17. Awesome holes but 15 is the trump card at 478 yards up hill with a 70’ elevation change to the green…oh and it’s into the prevailing wind again! I hit driver 250, ripped a 3-wood and was still on the hill short of the bunkers! Seventeen is a wonderful par 3, kind of reminiscent of 17 at Pebble Beach and the eighteen provides a great finishing hole.

Bethpage is a wonderful course. It is so fair but brutally long. If you don’t hit it well off the tee don’t bother showing up! You won’t have a good time. Others have commented on the caddies. One of my playing partners took ‘Bobby G’, he was fantastic. He is a real character with great experience and a wonderful eye for break on the greens. Enjoy Bethpage. It is a great course and one that the serious golfer must visit…it’s a golfing pilgrimage!
April 26, 2010
10 / 10
Bethpage (Black)
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Joey
April 27, 2010
I have been lucky enough to have played some of the best private clubs around N.Y. and have to agree that the Black course is as good if not better than all of them on the island. I do think you've gotten the 2nd and 3rd holes mixed up though as the 3rd is the par three and no easy one from the tips! If people can't carry it 225 straight all day they need to play the Blue course instead!
Steven
I was lucky enough to play this course in the same week as Shinnecock, NGLA, Winged Foot, Merion and Baltusrol. Beth Page Black is the best mental test of golf I have ever played. Other courses may give you a short Par 4 or fair Par 3 to have a break from other long holes but not Beth Page Black. If you cannot hit your 3 Wood off the deck or a hybrid club (from rough) 200 yards as well as long irons consistently then it will be a long long day. Deserves its slope rating. For simple toughness and brutality its the best in the world.
October 22, 2009
10 / 10
Bethpage (Black)
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joe rosace
I am a regular golfer at Bethpage. I play all the courses. I can tell you that the caddie program has changed. Gone are the days of caddies soliciting in the park. All caddies affiliated with the Black course must register with the State. Though the caddies are registered, this does not insure you will have a quality caddie on your bag. Most of these guys will just carry your bag and offer bad or no advice. Scoring an “F” on even the most basic caddie services. These guys are not worth the $75 a bag + tip. My advice. Ask the Pro Shop who the top guys are and request there services. A great caddie on one of the Worlds greatest course will insure you have one of the best experiences of your life. Good luck…jr
September 11, 2009
10 / 10
Bethpage (Black)
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Willythedivotbum
July 05, 2010
We arrived at Bethpage on Wed. .Our plan was to play the Red course on Thursday. Come off the course and get on the car line for the Black course. 2 of us wanted to get caddies and the others were going to carry there own. We all heard that getting a caddy here might not be the best thing to do, so we were very skeptical. The night we arrived we hit balls on the range. We started asking locals about the caddie situation. We asked at the bar, the pro shop, even the men's room. One name of a caddie kept on coming up in most of our inquiries....Johnny G is the man. This is the guy you want out there on the Black course. This is the guy that will guide you around this course properly. We made a call and hired Johnny G for our Fri. round. Though the Black course beat us up that day, we all would have been lost out there if not for our caddie. It was our first time on the Black and I highly recommend Johnny G if you are in need of a caddie on this course. Ask for him in the Pro shop or you can call him at the # he gave us...Johnny G cell#516-813-5522. Good luck to all you hackers trying to beat the Black. This is one hard course.
Peter Stepenak
August 21, 2010
I agree with Willy. Johnny G is without a doubt the best caddie up there. Our group has used him the last 2 years. Call ahead and request him, otherwise it is a complete luck of the draw what caddie you get and how good or bad he is.
Jay McGee
February 10, 2011
Watch out for bad caddies!!! It took me a few years but I finally found a caddie our group has used 2 times last year. Willythedivotbum got it right. Call Johnny G at the number above. The word around the Black course is this guy is the best. Our group agreed and we will hire him this year again. He did not use a laser but my friend did. we tested his yardages for 5 holes and gave up using the laser the rest of the day. the guy knows the course better than any caddie I have had.
Vinnie B
March 01, 2011
Regarding best caddies on the Black course...I have been playing the black course for 25 years and have had my share of good and bad caddies. So I believe I am qualified to offer this blog a list of the top caddies on the Black course and how you can hire them. If you ask around the clubhouse and the course, the best caddie up there is Johnny G. He has been up there for years, very well known and highly regarded. A caddie who knows every inch of the black. Monte, who is also mentioned many times in this blog is also very good. These 2 caddies work together a lot and have gotten us all around the course without loosing a single ball. Eagle eyes!!! And that is hard to do on the Black. Another caddie we have used for years is Bobby L. I've never seen someone hustle so much as Bobby on the Black. Johnny G and Bobby L are considered the best at reading these greens. An advantage to the newbie playing this course. A dark horse caddie to hire is Jack Miller. Has lived and played this course over 30 years. All these guys are true professional caddies. They know the yardages, the best shots to take in good and difficult situations and will undoubtably be an asset to your game. How do you hire them? You can personally request there services by calling the Pro Shop. If it were up to me I would call them directly. Johnny G 516-813-5522 Monte 516-316-8936 Bobby L 516-448-9586 Jack M 516-965-1557 Good Luck, and if you hire these guys please give this blog some feedback...It will be helpful to others in the future.
Mark Licata
My son and I just returned from playing the Black course. I’ll start off by saying read the famous sign in front of the first tee. They are not joking. Even though I Am only a medium handicap at best, I have had the pleasure of playing some of the world’s best courses, Ballybunion, Portmarnock, Pebble Beach, Oak Hill (ask the Seniors about this one). I played Spyglass earlier this year. Bethpage Black is the only one of these that I can say I probably didn’t belong on. This was far and away the most difficult course I have ever played. Of course it did not help that I played from the back tees. It was also one of the best golf experiences ever. This course deserves all the respect and admiration it gets. It is a beast, 7460 yards from the tips. The most penal rough I have played this side of the Atlantic. But as tough as it is, it is also just as spectacular. My only complaint is about the caddie. I wanted to hire two caddies, but the caddie master ( I do not believe the caddies are officially part of the course) would not let us. They insist on one caddie on two bags. This did not work. Our caddie was not worth the $200 I paid. He did not find any errant balls, even though he handed us the same club every hole and walked up the fairway to fore caddie leaving us without any other club options (or my camera). He also did not seem to know the course. Be wary of the caddies, but don’t let this in any way deter you from this amazing experience. We will be back.
August 02, 2008
10 / 10
Bethpage (Black)
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esrealb
Best golf experience ever.
April 08, 2008
10 / 10
Bethpage (Black)
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aaron creamer
This is as the ranking suggests one of the best courses in the world. I got off the train at Farmingdale and proceded to the taxi rank. It was there I would unknowingly meet my playing partner for the day who I shared a cab with, George was a regular at the Black and got us off within an hour. $100 to play this place is like giving it away. George pointed me in the direction of a good caddy (Drew) and the match was on.As soon as you get on the first tee you know you are somewhere special, with breath taking views across the opening holes and miles of multi coloured forests.The first fairway was like the living room carpet after it had just been hoovered, not a piece of debris in sight and as tight as you could imagine.Every tee shot was a treat, tee boxes perfect holes even more so. It was a shame to miss the fairways as you know you wont be hitting off turf like that at your local club. We played in a strong wind from the north, the toughest out there i was told or at least I hoped, but it was not until the 470 yard 15th that your mind was put at rest. You were playing a brute of a golf course. Fair but LONG and difficult. To sum up the place you would have to say that it is long, well maintained, awesome to look at and one of the best tests of golf you are likely to find on the planet. All I can say is go play, you will not be disapointed.
November 08, 2007
10 / 10
Bethpage (Black)
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george
September 27, 2009
yes i lost the match to a great player that day
faisal
Long is certainly the name of the game. The course is tough but not because the holes are extra-ordinarily imaginative. But because all of them are so so long. You are struggling as a mid-handicapper to reach par 4s with two woods. And there is plenty of gradation in the holes, sometimes making the holes much longer than the official yardage. There is no better bang for buck course anywhere in America though.
July 17, 2007
10 / 10
Bethpage (Black)
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john schick
The Black is the best bang for your buck available in the USA. It's a VERY difficult course to walk and carts are not permitted. Caddies are generally available. This is a course which punishes attempts at heroic recovery shots. If you miss the fairway then just pitch out and play for bogey. It's a wonderful wilderness experience as most holes are isolated and there are no houses in site. Fairways are generally maintained at near US Open width & the rough is long and the fescue longer. Many par 4s are driver and then fairway wood and you'll still come up short. many fairways required a 200 yeard drive to reach them off the tee. Short hitters should play the Red course.
September 12, 2006
10 / 10
Bethpage (Black)
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