Yes, our golfing journey has landed us in downtown Manhattan! After playing Pine Valley yesterday, we drove our rental car back to the Newark airport and got a ride into the city. After a few beers we were off to bed around midnight excited for our round at Bethpage Black early in the morning.
Having your alarm go off at 4:30AM is never fun. It is especially tough when in Manhattan.
Bethpage Black is a public golf course located in Farmington, New York. It’s about a 45 minute train or car ride from Manhattan. Getting on the black course can be challenging. On the weekend it requires camping out in the parking lot. During the week, we were advised to get to the course no later than 6:00AM as the pro shop opens at 5:30AM and then dispenses tee times. We got a private car from our hotel at 5:00AM and arrived at Bethpage State Park around 5:35AM. Once there, we noticed the line of golfers waiting to secure a tee time on one of the 5 championship courses at Bethage. At the window, we were disappointed to learn that the black course had just reopened after being closed for a week for aerification. What a bummer! Additionally, the first tee time was being delayed until 9:00AM because the superintendent needed more time to get the course ready for play. We purchased two spots at 9:06AM and proceeded to have some coffee (and breakfast).
At breakfast, Ashley and I decided we didn’t want to sit around for 3 hours to play the black course so we went back to the pro shop and purchased 9 holes on the blue course. We teed off at 6:36AM on number 10 of the blue course and had a very pleasant 9 hole warm up with two retired locals, Mike and Pat. The course was in decent shape with a few memorable holes. My favorite was number 12 which was a 473 yard dog left left par 5. It was a very challenging hole which demanded a right to left tee shot and had a small green on top of a hill. Overall, Ashley shot 43 and I shot 41. However, taking full advantage of his shots; Ashley won $10 on the blue course.
Walking to the first tee of Bethpage Black Course was quite intimidating. First, we had to walk by the sign below. Second, there was a small gallery of people watching on the railing above the first tee. Third, the starter informed us that the fairways and greens were recently aerified and that the rough was still very long. What a difficult setup for one of the hardest courses in the world.
On the tee, we met our two local playing partners, Ted and Jim, who were both singles out for their weekly round on the black course. Bethpage Black is probably one of the best deals in golf for locals. While Ashley and I paid $130 for our round; Jim and Ted only had to pay $65.
Bethpage Black opens with a difficult 430 yard par 4 which demands a well placed tee shot. The 2nd hole is a tight uphill short par 4 which also demands a well positioned tee shot. Since the course was recently aerified and the greens were covered with sand; Ashley and I decided not to get caddies. In hindsight, we probably should have. Ball position is a premium at Bethpage Black and we were constantly in poor positions. After an average start for both of us, we came to the famous par 5 4th hole. The 4th is a visually stunning golf hole as can be seen below.
Overall, the front nine at Bethpage is a challenge. I particularly liked holes 4 through 6. Neither Ashley nor I played very well. Ashley shot 47 and I shot 43. Our Nassau bet was even as we headed for number 10.
The back nine starts with a difficult par 4 which extends to the edge of the property. The wind was starting to blow pretty hard and our games were leaking a little oil. At one point, I thought Ashley was going to give up because his game was not cooperating with his mind. I got a little cocky and was throwing verbal jabs at Ashley. Unfortunately for me, Ashley stepped up his game and came back with 4 pars over the last five holes to win 2 bets on the back. Overall, I shot 84 (43-41) and Ashley shot 93 (47-46). Even with his poor round, his strong finish enabled Ashley to win $40 on the black course and $50 overall for the day at Bethpage.
After our 27 holes, Ashley and I visited the restaurant to have a few beers. We were served by the same woman who helped us earlier named Ginger. Ginger had a fabulous personality and was obviously a very hard-working woman. She served us breakfast at 6:00AM and then drinks at 3:00PM. We shared our story with Ginger and promised to put her in our blog. Cheers to you Ginger!!
Being our last round of the trip, we decided to have a big night out in Manhattan. We hooked up with a few friends of ours, Jed and Mick, and Jed was kind enough to get us all into the Boom Boom Room at the Soho House. It was a fun night with many stories but the wake up call at 4:30AM sucked… One thing I will remember next time visiting Manhattan is that 4:30AM wake up calls are brutal especially 2 days in a row!!