Bethpage soon restored for public play
Sure it has been great to have held a big tournament at Bethpage for once without days of deluge. Everyone involved with the Barclays appreciated it. What very few realized, though, was that a big benefit comes this coming week, when the staff gets the park's five courses ready for the public again.
"It's way, way easier when it's dry," said Andy Wilson, the course superintendent. He was Craig Currier's assistant at the U.S. Open and he knows how hard it was to restore everything after a major championship and major storm, all at once. There certainly will be work to do this week -- fertilizing and watering the greens, tending to the areas of fairway that served as crosswalks, re-sodding grassy spots that were underneath bleachers -- but it could have been worse.
Park director Betsy Wintenberger said that the other four courses are scheduled to reopen for play Thursday and the Black is scheduled to reopen Saturday. She emphasized the word "scheduled," but she is hopeful.
Golf enthusiasts in the New York area owe gratitude to the old Westchester Classic, which is where many of us got our first look at tournament golf. In fact, despite a different name and different venues, the Barclays is the same tournament that began 45 years ago this week at Westchester Country Club.
Rain was so bad back in 1967 that the event did not end until Wednesday. Jack Nicklaus won by one shot over Dan Sikes and earned the $50,000 first prize in what was then a record $250,000 purse. Sikes said that day: "Nicklaus never panics, he always hangs in there. He's one of the two great players in the world."
The other great one was Arnold Palmer, who played with Nicklaus in the final group and finished fifth. He said of the 27-year-old champion, "He can probably be all alone in the top bracket of golf if he continues to play and work at it."
Nicklaus got the tournament off to a good start, that still is echoing.
Liu on Junior Ryder Cup
For the second consecutive time, Jim Liu of Smithtown has been named to the U.S. Junior Ryder Cup team. Liu helped the American side win in 2010 and will be shooting for a repeat next month at Olympia Fields outside Chicago, just before the professionals' Ryder Cup match at nearby Medinah. Liu was a captain's choice made by PGA past president Roger Warren.
Results from the U.S. Blind Golfers Association championship held recently at Middle Bay Country Club in Oceanside: David Meador of Nashville, Tenn., won the B1 blind golfers category, Jeremy Poincenot of Carlsbad, Calif., and Michael McKone of Warwick, R.I., won the respective B2 and B3 trophies, and tournament chairman Ted Fass of Rockville Centre won low net.
A National Golf Foundation study said that the average time for 18 holes on public courses surveyed was 4 hours, 22 minutes. The average on private courses was 4:06. Forty-eight percent of golfers interviewed said that being held up was the most annoying part, compared with 10 percent who said being pushed was most annoying.