Bethpage Black a beast, but only for 17 holes

Published 3:00 a.m. ET May 10, 2019

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (AP) — The warning sign attached to a waist-high iron fence overlooking the first tee is there for a reason. The Black Course at Bethpage State Park is an extremely difficult course, recommended only for highly skilled golfers.

The public course is strong enough to have hosted the U.S. Open twice and now gets a PGA Championship.

In short, Bethpage Black is a beast — all 17 holes of it.

It’s the 18th hole that leaves so much to be desired. The 411-yard closing hole is not a strong par 4 that defines so many major championship courses, like Oakmont or Southern Hills or Merion. It is not a reachable par 5 that can produce two-shot swings at the finish, such as Pebble Beach or Valhalla or Torrey Pines.

It’s really not much of a hole at all.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a bad hole,” Rickie Fowler said. “You have so much going on through the rest of the golf course, and then you kind of just cruise in. Bethpage is just a big golf course. With the 18th hole there it’s like, ‘All right, we’ve put you through enough trouble today.'”

The hole is the second-shortest par 4 at Bethpage Black. It starts on an elevated tee to…

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