In announcing that Bethpage Black will host both the 2019 PGA Championship and the 2024 Ryder Cup, the head of the PGA of America called the agreement with New York State "a home run." The buzz at the announcement ceremony Tuesday suggested that it might be even greater. It had the feel of a grand slam.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo appeared at Bethpage State Park along with PGA of America executives and other elected officials to formally begin preparations for the PGA Championship, the final major tournament of the professional golf season, and the Ryder Cup, which PGA of America president Ted Bishop called "the Super Bowl of golf."
Attracting both to the state course was considered a big victory by both the state and the association, who agreed that it will be well received by fans at Bethpage, considered the most exuberant in golf.
"New York State 'gets it' and Bethpage State Park 'gets it,'" said Peter Bevacqua, the PGA's chief executive and Westchester County native who referred to the agreement as a home run.
Cuomo said, "It doesn't get more exciting than this. New York State loves golf. We have a great history when it comes to golf."
He pointed out that the PGA of America was founded in Manhattan 97 years ago. He added that this year's PGA championship, in Rochester, brought an economic impact of $75 million. The governor believes the events on Long Island, with their proximity to the city, will be even more lucrative for businesses.
"The cherry on the cake is that it's Bethpage. It is a public course, it is referred to as the people's country club," Cuomo said at a dais that also included both Nassau and Suffolk County executives.
Bethpage Black's reputation was established when it hosted the 2002 and 2009 U.S. Opens. Crowds were louder and more animated than usual golf galleries. State Senate co-leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) recalled that he served as a marshal for the Tiger Woods-Sergio Garcia pairing during the 2002 Open. "This is huge," he said of the new agreement.
Long Island has not hosted the PGA Championship since 1930, at the original Fresh Meadow Country Club in Great Neck (the 1939 PGA was held in Queens). The Island never has hosted the Ryder Cup, a biennial match between the U.S. and Europe that has become the most compelling event in golf.
Bishop said that during a practice round for the 2010 Ryder Cup in Wales, Phil Mickelson "out of the blue" asked why it never has been held in the New York area and that his U.S. teammate Ricky Fowler added, "Man, can you imagine what a great home-field advantage that would be?"
Bevacqua said, "With the excitement of the venue and the excitement of the event -- I mean this as a positive -- that is like the perfect storm."