A Page on Bethpage (Black)

Bethpage Black 18th Spring 2008

John Rozell: NYS Parks Recreatio

Bethpage Black 18th Spring 2008

Will Facques, Golf Course Reviewer

When you drive into Bethpage State Park you know you are in a special place. My first sight of the course was the 15th green towering above as I came down Round Swamp Lane. I then drove up the driveway with trees blossoming pink flowers around me and a massive clubhouse greeting me with a sign saying “Welcome to Bethpage State Park.” With 5 courses on the property the park knew how to handle large crowds and within minutes I was at the front of the line and signed up for my $150 tee time at 13:00. With an hour to waste before my tee time I went over to the driving range which was a bit off a disappointment being very small and only allowing the use of irons, however, I was able to get a good warm up before hitting the course.

The course was worth well over the $150 I payed to play as it was in nearly perfect condition with greens running true and fast. Everything was perfectly manicured and the course was an absolute brute requiring long and precise tee shots in order to give yourself a chance at making good scores. The greens were a bit underwhelming with not as much slope as I expected from one of the toughest courses in the world, but every shot required the utmost precision in ensuring you were not putting yourself into one of the many hazardous areas surrounding the greens and fairways.


Holes to Note:


1st Hole:


Bethpage opens with an intimidating downhill tee shot. You must hit a long drive to get around the bend in the fairway and not have your 2nd shot being blocked out by the trees down the right side. My shot was sliced a little so I ended up in the tough behind a tree. I punched a low shot under a tree branch and was left with 150 yards to a well guarded green with large bunkers and fescue that I would need to hit over to get on the green. I ended up just short of the green then hit a straightforward chip and after two putts walked off the green with a 6. This whole is mostly made difficult by the tough tee shot and the danger around the green.


2nd Hole:

Another double bogey for me on this hole I got very unlucky on my tee shot. I tried keeping my shot as close to the trees on the left as possible in order to cut the corner on this uphill dogleg left but nicked a tree and ended up only 50 yards from the teeing area. This hole isn’t very long but it’s dramatically uphill which makes it play very long. It was my first taste of a blind shot to the green at Bethpage as after hitting my 2nd shot into the fairway I was left with 130 yards to a green guarded in the front by bunkers and I was unable to see the because of the dramatic hill. I again came up just short and after a chip and two putts had another 6. This hole is made difficult with an inability to find a level lie on the hill for your second shot and an emphasis on club selection since hitting too short of a shot will put you in a tough greenside bunker.

4th hole:

My favorite hole on the course this par 5 plays deceptively uphill and requires multiple precise shots around tough fairway and greenside bunkers. I hit my drive into the fairway and was left with an uphill shot which needed to carry a cross bunker to find the next section of fairway. I could choose how much of the bunker I wanted to carry, with the further right I went the better angle I would have on my shot into the green. Unfortunately I shanked a 3 wood and then hit another dud shot before hitting it over the bunker to the next fairway with 70 yards left to the green. I was then left with an uphill wedge to a green well guarded by front bunkers. This is the shot I had hoped to have for my 3rd, and after hitting my wedge onto the green and 2 putting I got another double bogey 7. This hole was beautiful to look at from the teeing ground and intimidating as it made its way up a hill with lots of hazards to avoid in the fairway. The trouble comes with the tee shot and then the wedge into the green must be hit exacting to ensure you stay on the putting surface.

6th hole:

The 6th hole was my 1 and only par on my round. This par 4 with a slight dogleg left requires a straight drive between fairway bunkers before a downhill 2nd shot to a green guarded on both sides by deep bunkers. After 3 straight holes which played uphill (not including the par 3 3rd) the downhill 2nd shot was a refreshing change. I hit a solid drive between bunkers which left me with 190 yards to the green. I flushed a 5 iron which went straight at the flag bouncing right before the green and ending up 10 feet from the hole. I two putted from there to get my par, with my birdie putt lipping out. This hole was a great switch up providing some variety with the downhill aprroach, and luckily I hit a good second shot because the bunkers beside the green were very deep and dangerous.

7th hole:

The 7th hole has my favorite tee shot on the course with a large expanse of sand guarding the front of a fairway which goes diagonally away from the tee box. Like the 2nd shot on the fourth hole the the further you aim to the right the harder your shot will be, but you are rewarded with an easier 2nd shot. The smart move would have been to aim very left over the shortest part of the hazard but I took a risk hitting further to the right and ended up in the hazard. This shot was made even more difficult by fairway bunkers which needed to be avoided on my second shot. I barely avoided them and two shots later found myself just over the back of the green where I chipped and two putted from for another double bogey 7. This hole is made best by its opening tee shot but also has danger around the green which also toughen the hole.

8th hole:

A beautiful par 3 the 8th plays downihill to a green fronted by a pond and guarded long and left by bunkers. A tree also stands on the right side of the hole blocking off a portion of the right side of the green and knocking balls which hit it into the water. From the tee box you don’t realize that although it looks as if you are able to land a ball if you come up short of the green, there is actually a severe slope which would kick any short shot back into the water. This green is also the most severe on the course with two tiers and a steep pitch from back to front. I ended up with a 6 on this hole as my club slipped out of my hand in the rain on my first shot and I ended up in the water. My second shot was better missing to the left of the green and from there I was able to pitch it on and 2 putt. The downhill of the hole and danger of coming up short can really make this hole fun and dangerous, as you must be wise in your club selection and hit a good ball.

13th hole:

The final of 3 par 5’s on the course this long hole threatens #4 for my favoritism. Bunkers line the left side of the fairway causing the golfer to aim down the right both to avoid them and shorten the slightly doglegged hole. However, going down the right side brings woods into play which if hit into could really impact the second shot. This hole is best though within 150 yards where a cross bunker stands tall in front of the green providing an illusion that the green is right over it, when the green is actually about 50 yards away. This illusion can hurt a golfer who doesn’t know their way around the course and might chose a smaller club thinking the green is only on the other side. It also provides a runway for long hitting players who can hit the ball over the bunker and have their ball run up onto the green on their second shot. I did a terrible job with this hole miss hitting my tee shot and ending up in deep fescue, I ended up picking up and moving my ball up with my playing partners where I could better experience the hole.

15th hole:

The hole which greeted me on my way into the park, the 15th may be the scariest on the course. The tee shot is straight forward with no fairway bunkers, just a thin fairway which runs slightly away to the left. The drive is all about getting into the fairway as far as possible to help with the 2nd shot. The 2nd shot is the toughest of the course into a green which towers above the fairway. I ended up in the greenside bunker and from there you have no view of the flag. This hole is made great by the toughness of the second shot and how intimidating the green is sitting atop the steep slope of a hill.

17th hole:


One of the toughest par 3’s anyone could play, this hole is made difficult in every way. A long hole playing close to 200 yards, the green is very short from front to back making it hard to hit a ball that stays in the green even if you land in the green. If you miss this small green, large deep bunkers punish a missed shot everywhere. It also has a lot of slope making putts difficult also once you get into the green. All in all it is one of the toughest par 3’s that can be created, and ultimate test of a golfers skills.

18th hole:
One of the most picturesque finishing holes in golf, the hole extends out and up from the tee box to the clubhouse. Two large bunkers guard both sides of the landing area from the tee reaching out to grab tee shots that are even the slightest bit mishit. The second shot is to another elevated green guarded by deep bunkers. This demanding finishing hole provided the final test for the shots which have been used throughout the round, needing a straight and long drive in order to set up in a good position for the second shot. Being on top of that green can be compared to sitting on a thrown able to look back out at the course you just conquered.