Friday, June 11, 2010

Bethpage Black!

(Eric titled this post. He is clearly very excited.)

I told you all about the super fun time I had over Memorial Day with the girls. Eric was very sweet that weekend - he allowed his house be overrun with women, wedding talk, and wine with nary a peep of complaint. And to top it all off, he cooked us dinner! He's a keeper.

But the weekend didn't turn out to be nothing but girly fun for him - he was also able to cross an Eric-specific item off our New York To-Do List by playing Bethpage Black, which he tells me is a super-famous golf course. He was pretty excited (again, as his post title reflects).

I realize many of my readers aren't big golf aficionados, and neither am I. Eric's pictures are lovely but they really just look like a lot of grass to me, and I don't understand much of what he tells me about his golf experience (although I am getting to the point where I at least know what is a good score!). For those readers who are interested in fancy golf, keep reading! Here, Eric makes a repeat blogging performance to share his experience with you. Enjoy!:

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One of the (many) great things about golf is the fact that anyone can play many of the world's premiere venues. Although I will probably never take batting practice at Yankee Stadium, play tennis at the All England Club or toss a football around Lambeau Field, in the past year I have teed it up at St. Andrews and Bethpage (the sites for the 2010 Open Championship and the 2009 U.S. Open, respectively). Most recently, I was able to get away from the Cousins Club reunion weekend to cross a big item off of our New York To-Do List.

Bethpage State Park is home to five public golf courses (Black, Red, Blue, Green and Yellow) that New York state residents can make tee times to play up to seven days in advance. The Black is by far the most famous of the five, having hosted the US Open twice in the past decade. The course is perhaps best known for saving the first hour of tee times for walk-ups, but in order to secure one of those spots you will almost always have to spend the night in your car in the parking lot.

Instructions for the walk-up car line (click to enlarge)

The Black course is also the toughest of the five and generally considered one of the toughest in the country. So much so that there is a sign in front of the first tee that reads: “WARNING: The Black course is an extremely difficult course which we recommend only for highly skilled golfers.”

Even though I fully agree with the sign, I loved it. The course is in great condition and is a terrific test of just about everything a golfer can be asked to do: shape shots right-to-left and left-to-right, hit long irons, get out of deep fairway and green-side bunkers, control distances, and everything in between. Many of the holes are very well laid out and force you to really think about how you want to attack them, almost always with an appropriate risk/reward payoff. All this and only one par 4 is under 400 yards, most shots are into the wind and if you miss the fairway on any hole, you are probably not going to reach the green in regulation.

The 478-yard par 4 5th
Another thing that makes the course so difficult is the physical conditioning that is required without even swinging a club. No golf carts are allowed and the course measures over seven miles long, with pretty steep hills to walk up and down. This is probably the biggest reason you can expect a round to take no less than 5 hours. Given that it took me just under six hours, I had time to take some pictures of my favorite holes.

The 4th hole is one of the best three-shot par 5's in the world.

Hitting it to 10 ft. on the par 3 14th

Par 3 17th hole

Teeing off on the 18th

I hope you enjoyed the pictures and I was able to tempt you to come see the course in person. If so, consider yourself officially invited. (Thanks in advance for giving me an excuse to go back!)
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Thanks for another recap, Eric! Stop by anytime!

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