Bethpage State Park (Black Course)

Golf Course Review by: Bill Satterfield

Quick Facts

Designer:  A.W. Tillinghast in 1936

Cost:  $50-$60 for New York residents, $100-$120 for non-residents Click for current rates

Phone Number:  Phone: (516) 249-0700

Course Website:  Official Website - Visit Bethpage's official website by clicking on the link provided.

Directions:  Get here! - 99 Quaker Meeting House Rd., Farmingdale, New York

Photos:  See additional photos of Bethpage (Black)

Accolades: Ranked 42nd (8th for public course) on Golf Digest's 2013-14 Top 100 Greatest Golf Courses in America and 8th in the state of New York. Host of 2002 and 2009 U.S. Open.

What to Expect: The first thing you should expect at Bethpage Black is a high score. This is one of the best and most challenging layouts the U.S. Open (2002 and 2009) has ever featured. I mean c'mon, this course features one of the most famous signs in golf: WARNING - The Black Course Is An Extremely Difficult Course Which We Recommend Only For Highly Skilled Golfers. If that isn't a good enough reason to know what to expect then I don't know what is. The course is one of the best parkland layouts in America and features some beautiful Tillinghast bunkers, just one water hazard, long rough, and big trees. Where the Black course lets its guard down is on the greens; as a group, they have got to be the flattest greens a Top 100 course has ever boasted. The Black Course is a special track and delivers one of the few times that Joe Public can tee it up on a U.S. Open layout.

Signature Hole:  4th - 517 Yard Par 5 - With the trees framing this beautiful fairway that features criss-crossing bunkers and plays uphill on this double dogleg, it is no doubt that the impressive par five 4th hole at Bethpage Black is the signature hole of the course.

Bethpage Black 4th
4th Hole at (517 Yard Par 5)

By the Numbers:

Tees Par Yardage Rating Slope
Blue 71 7468 76.6 144
White 71 6684 73.8 135
Red (Women) 71 6223 77.0 152

Individual Hole Analysis

Best Par 3:  8th - 210 Yards and 17th - 207 Yards - I just couldn't decide which par three was better so I am featuring them both. The downhill 8th hole boasts the only water hazard at Bethpage Black in the form of a pond that sits short of the green while a lone tree on the right grabs the golfer's eye and seems to have a gravitational pull on tee shots. The 17th hole is the most bunkered green on the course and turns the putting surface into a virtual elevated island. It is an attractive and intimidating view from the tee which makes it all the more rewarding if you can walk away with a par.

The only water hazard on the course is found next to the 8th green
8th Hole at Bethpage Black (210 Yard Par 3)
The green or the sand?  There is a 90% chance your ball ends up in one of those two places
17th Hole at Bethpage Black (207 Yard Par 3)

Best Par 4:  5th - 478 Yards - A double dogleg par four is a fairly rare treat in golf and the 5th hole at Bethpage Black is the best example I've ever played. The fairway slopes left to right while a large bunker and trees await a tee shot that travels too far to the right. A tee shot up the left side may shorten up the hole but it also will partially block the green and require a high draw into a well protected green. It is a fantastic hole with options, risks, rewards, and beauty; all of which combine to make one fine hole.

A double dogleg par four with a sloping fairway and elevated green are excellent elements on this par four
5th Hole at (478 Yard Par 4)

Best Par 5:  4th - 517 Yards - Many critics call this hole Tillinghast's best par five design ever and I concur. The bunkering is gorgeous and the double dogleg is reachable in two but requires a pair of fantastic shots to climb the hill and find this elevated green.

Tillinghast's best par five ever
4th Hole at (517 Yard Par 5)

Birdie Time:  2nd - 389 Yard Par 4 - While the second hole can be difficult because it plays to an elevated green, it is a sub-400 yard par four that doesn't require driver off the tee and plays to a very flat green. With a green this flat there is always a good chance of dropping a putt from long distance.

A flat green and the shortest par four on the course are a good combination to land a birdie
2nd Hole (389 Yard Par 4)

Bogey Beware:  15th - 478 Yard Par 4 - This uphill dogleg left hole is tough in every sense of the word. The hole doglegs late so there is very little distance you can cut off on this long hole that features a tight fairway and the most difficult approach on the course. The green slants hard from back-left to front right and the putting surface is virtually blind from the fairway below. If you miss the fairway and find Bethpage's notorius deep rough, just pray that bogey is all the worse it will get for you.

Ask any pro at the 2009 U.S. Open and they'll tell you this hole is Bethpage's stiffest test
15th Hole at (478 Yard Par 4)

Final Cut:    Grade A+

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