A rave review for Bethpage Black

    The Black Course at Bethpage in Farmingdale, NY, on Long Island, is inarguably one of the best daily fee courses in the nation, right there with Whistling Straits, Pebble Beach, the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, and the hot courses of Bandon Dunes.  Golfers who post their impressions online and in such media as the Zagat survey of top courses tend to give Bethpage Black higher marks than another public-fee U.S. Open course, Torrey Pines.
    I've never played the Bethpage course but will make a point of it after receiving the following review from GolfCommunityReviews reader and contributing photographer, Elliot deBear, who played the Black on Friday.  Elliot is much traveled and has played most of the better daily fee courses in the nation.  His own impressions follow, although he left the camera home in order to concentrate on his game.  Our loss apparently was his gain.

    On Friday I played Bethpage Black...FROM THE TOURNAMENT TEES!!!  First off, my friend Mark called up and got an 11:57 tee time. $55.00 for the round. They don't allow carts so everyone walks either with a pull cart you can rent or you can ask for a caddy with 24 hours notice @ $40 plus a $20-$25 tip. Club house and pro shop are terrific. I dropped $200 on logo shirts before I even teed it up.
    We were matched up with two single-digit players who turned out to be great guys. Other than my buddy, none of us had ever played Bethpage so we agreed to walk back to tournament tees and play from the yardage plates even though no tee markers were set up. We decided to go with the experience and see the course from the pros standpoint.  I play to a 9 and my goal was to break 90.
    The Black Course is simply fantastic. Besides being in great shape, the course is probably the most interesting layout I ever played.  It is magnificent to look at from almost every vantage point. The card lists the blue tees at 7,468 with a 76.6/144 slope rating and a par of 71. The card, however, doesn't account for two new tees. I have no idea what the yardage is from the tournament tees, but suspect it is around 7,580.  This is the hardest track I ever played bar none.  [It features] thick rough and natural traps framed with fescue and a big variety of large, mature trees framing the course.
    Some of my favorite holes included the 230-yard par 3 third, 608-yard par 5 thirteenth and certainly the uphill 411 par 4 18th coming back to the clubhouse.  And, of course there is the #1 rated handicap hole, the par 4 15th. The card says 490 yards from the blue tees...who knows what it is from the tourney tips, but it's a magnificent view looking out to the fairway (you need binoculars to see the green). It's looooooong. The real view is when you look back to the tee from the green and see what you just played. Wild.

    I can't imagine this course when it is set up for the Open when they grow the rough another three inches, narrow the fairways to 20 yards on many holes, lengthen the rough from tee to fairway where, in some cases, it's a 240 to 250 yard carry to the fairway, and speed up the greens to a 13 stimp.
    This course is a bear to walk now. To do it 4 days in a row with an Open set-up is unfathomable to me. These guys will need to be in the greatest shape ever and mentally sharp.  This is a public venue open to one and all.  If any of you decide to make the trek and have the chance to play Bethpage, you will not be disappointed.  [The course] is just a brilliant test of golf in every way.  I achieved my goal of breaking 90, with an 87 as the golf gods let me score a number of up and downs.  I felt privileged to have had the experience.

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