Is Bethpage Black's 18th hole a fitting finish?
Mark HerrmannMark Herrmann
Herrmann has covered the Mets and Yankees since 1988,
As long as they keep having big pro tournaments at Bethpage Black, which they will do with the 2019 PGA Championship and 2024 Ryder Cup, some people are going to say, "Great course, didn't like the ending."
Depending on your perspective, No. 18 is either a fine finishing hole, with daunting fairway bunkers and a classic walk uphill to the clubhouse, or a short, unworthy close to a massive, classic layout.
There was some talk before the U.S. Opens on the Black about reconfiguring it, somehow rerouting it to No. 18 on the Red Course. There was plenty of talk after the 2009 Open, when the U.S. Golf Association moved the tees forward because of a damp landing area, allowing champion Lucas Glover to finish the major by hitting a 6-iron off the tee and a 9-iron into the green.
"Eighteen is a very good golf hole. I didn''t like the way they set it up on the last day, when they put it all the way up," said Rees Jones, who redesigned the course for the 2002 Open. "It has never been tested because Tiger was so far ahead and Glover just had to hold on.
"It has different shot options," Jones said, noting that he brought the big fairway bunkers toward the fairway more. He did acknowledge that current golfers can hit over them, but that presents risks because of the rough. "And we made the green one-third smaller and put it on a diagonal. I understand, if you're protecting a lead, you're going to hit an iron off the tee. But for match play, it's going to be phenomenal because you'll have to choose."
Peter Bevacqua, the CEO of the PGA of America who grew up in Westchester and played the Black once a week as a teenager, is not worried. He said course setup guru Kerry Haigh will focus on it in a few years. "The good news," Bevacqua said at the news conference to announce the 2019 and 2024 events, "is that it's one of the best layouts in the country."
Nick Bova of Friar's Head in Riverhead, who had to drive all the way back to Bethpage Red last year for one hole of a darkness-delayed playoff, and lost it, this year won the Met PGA Assistants title on the Red without any extra holes . . . New York State Open champion Danny Balin of Burning Tree in Connecticut, who beat Bova last year, won the Met PGA title recently, then headed to England to try for his European Tour card. The word in golf circles is that, between tournaments, Balin has been giving golf lessons to Gary (Baba Booey) Dell'Abate, the producer of the Howard Stern Show.
Fresh Meadow pro Matt Dobyns is in England, playing for the U.S. against Great Britain/Ireland in the PGA Cup . . . Former Long Island Open champion Tom Sutter of Golf Manhattan, an indoor facility on 39th Street, won the Met PGA Senior Championship at Pine Hollow . . . Darin Goldstein of Noyac Golf Club won the Long Island Mid-Am title at Cold Spring Country Club.. . . . Scott Ford and Mike Caporale won the Met PGA Senior-Junior tournament Monday at Timber Point.
Steve Chung of Dix Hills carried a fairway bunker on the 493-yard par-5 fourth hole at Bergan Point golf Course Monday, then hit a 203-yard 3-hybrid over a corner for a double-eagle 2 . . . Postscript to the Thursday column on hockey players' golf skill: Islanders forward Josh Bailey, who is not a low handicapper, said, "You don't want to be that good a golfer, because that means you're going home early every year."