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Officials thrilled NY State Open will be held on Bethpage Black despite pandemic

A 2018 aerial view of the Bethpage Black

A 2018 aerial view of the Bethpage Black golf course. Credit: Jeffrey Basinger and Raychel Brightman

The Met PGA breathed a huge sigh of relief last week when the state gave it the go-ahead to stage the New York State Open on the Black Course at Bethpage, where it has been played annually since 1994.

“In the local championship landscape, the New York State Open and the Met Open stand side by side as the premier events,” said Jeff Voorheis, executive director of the Met PGA. “They have the feel of  a mini tour event, both in the calibre of the players and the purses, which are both in excess of $100,000 total.”

The State Open, which had been scheduled for its regular dates last week but postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, will now be played Aug. 25-27 on the Bethpage venue that is the very symbol of championship golf.

Darrell Kestner, the head pro at Deepdale, won that first State Open on the Black, backing up his win at the Albany Country Club in 1993. The highly accomplished club pro, now 66, sees the Black as defining the state championship.

“When you have a golf course that’s held U.S. Opens, a PGA and is going to have the Ryder Cup, for the young kids all across the state to have this venue at Bethpage Black is a reason everyone wants to play,” Kestner said. “It is Bethpage  Black. If you can play well there you can play anywhere in the world.  It validates your game, a true test physically and mentally.”

Because of the pandemic, this State Open won’t be conducted quite like the others. There will still be a full field of 144 playing three rounds. But players are being advised, even before qualifying begins, that it’s likely that caddies won’t be allowed and they will have to carry their own bags or use a pull cart. That could change.

Players will keep each other’s scores, but won’t exchange the cards at the end of the round and the cards will be photographed rather than kept by officials. The big tent behind the 18th green, the golf central of the tournament, won’t be there. Nor will there be an awards ceremony.

And no spectators.

“We’ve agreed with New York State not to allow spectators on the golf course,” said Voorheis, who added that sponsors Lenox Advisors and NFP have stayed on board. “It’s unfortunate because it’s a seasonal highlight for our great players and their families. It’s a tradeoff to have the event at all.”

Still, it’s the State Open.

“If you look across the country, it’s probably one of the best state opens in the U.S. because of its location,” said Kestner, who also won the Met PGA assistants championship on the course in 1982, the first time he ever played on the Black. He tied the course record of 65 along the way.

“Just playing Bethpage Black, even before the U.S. Opens, it was renowned as a world-class golf course,”  Kestner said. “When the State Open went there, I was lucky enough to win it.”

Bartholomew, Prince winners

Jean Bartholomew, a teaching professional at the Engineers Country Club in Roslyn Harbor, won the Lincoln Women’s Met Open at her home club on Wednesday, shooting her second consecutive 73 for a 146 total. It was her third Women’s Met Open victory.

Carter Prince of the host Huntington Crescent Club won the 97th Long Island Amateur Championship on Wednesday, defeating Max Siegfried of the Meadow Brook Club 5 & 4.

ACES

Marian Aidikoff, Cold Spring CC No. 11, 111 yards, 3-wood

Terry Brennan, Pine Hills No. 17, 132 yards, 8-iron

Mitch Cohen, Hamlet G&CC No. 13, 157 yards, 7-iron

Ed Gottlieb, Pine Ridge No. 7, 117 yards, pitching wedge

Brian Jackson, Port Jefferson CC No. 11, 158 yards, 5-hybrid

Joe Kastrati, Cherry Creek Woods No. 2, 182 yards, 6-iron

Ed Lee, Oyster Bay GC No. 12, 117 yards, 9-iron

Joe Malone, Forest Park No. 9, 156 yards, 6-iron

Frank Mauro III, Eisenhower Red No. 5, 130 yards, 8-iron

Gordon Pagano, Middle Island Dogwood No. 3, 145 yards, 7-wood

Tim Roche, Hamlet CC No. 11, 151 yards, 4-hybrid

John Rokee Jr., Pine Hills No. 17, 143 yards, 9-iron

Rich Schaub (ex-Shirley) Saints GC (Port St. Lucie, Fla.) No. 16, 127 yards, pitching wedge

Linda Wels, Muttontown CC No. 14, 127 yards, hybrid

Stewart Yaker, Harbor Links Executive No. 6, 115 yards, pitching wedge Sherry Youner, Cold Spring CC No. 3, 117 yards, 7-wood

Aces and other golf news can be sent to jeff.williams@newsday.com. Aces can also be sent to sportsdesk@newsday.com.

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