AMERICA'S TOP 50 COURSES BETHPAGE BLACK
By Ken Liebeskind
The Bethpage Black State Park Golf Course in Farmingdale, NY may be the most popular public golf course in the United States. It was the first public course to host the U.S. Open in 2002, when Tiger Woods was the winner and the only golfer to break par. In 2009, Lucas Glover won the second U.S. Open at Bethpage Black.
Phil Mickelson finished second both times. The Bethpage Black course is renowned for its narrow fairways, tangly rough, plateau greens and huge sculptured bunkers. It plays to a par 71, 6,684 yards from the regulation tees and 7,297 from the championship tees with ratings of 73.9 and 76.6.
A warning sign at the first tee says, "The Black Course is an extremely difficult course which we recommend only for highly skilled golfers," so you'd best have your A game if you're going to play. All of your tee shots will demand a great deal of power and accuracy and you'll be challenged to hit a variety of irons into moderate size greens surrounded by large bunkers.
The signature hole is the par 5 4th, which has three tiers, each covered with bunkers, with a blind shot to an elevated green.
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Golfers love playing Bethpage Black.
"This is very close to a religious experience," one golfer said.
The 18th hole is a par 4 that was lengthened to 411 yards, with expanded fairway bunkers that pinch tightly at the landing area, with a small green surrounded by bunkers.
Golfers love playing Bethpage Black. "This is very close to a religious experience," one golfer said. "It's a tough, demanding course, not for the faint of heart." Another said it's "a beautiful setting and course. The changes in elevation make it quite a hike, but the quality of the course is A+."
If you have the good fortune to play Bethpage Black, you'd best come prepared with clubs that will allow you hit the ball long and straight. I recently played Bethpage with the Controller 460cc Square Head Driver from www.scientificgolfclubs.com, which provides exceptional distance and accuracy. The max size club head is coated with an M70 metal once used on military missiles, which adds extra distance off the tee. The ball stays straight thanks to the square head with a higher moment of inertia that increases accuracy, with shots staying 27 percent closer to the center line.
I hit a dynamite drive with the Controller 460cc Square Head Driver on the 5th hole at Bethpage Black, about 275 yards down the center, safe from the large sculptured traps that line the fairway. I was able to reach the green in regulation and two putt for par, which at the Black Course is quite an accomplishment.