Bethpage Black – Observations on Setup & Conditions
Personally, I enjoy going to tournaments during the practice round days. I like to avoid being stampeded by crowds. More importantly, I can gain a better sense of the course set-up.
Bethpage Black is notorious for being a beast of a golf course, that is to say, LONG. For the U.S. Open, it’s playing a grizzly 7,426 yards and only a par-70. (I know, it’s not like that hasn’t been emphasized enough already.) I could tell just from walking it that it’s a force to be reckoned with. I felt like I was on a hike as I stomped up and down the course from the elevated tees and greens to the steep sidehills. Then again, I’m out of shape.
I scoped out the different layers of the rough. At a glance, the first few cuts didn’t look terribly thick. But once I “felt” them, I could tell that the balls sits down more than you’d think- which has the makings for a difficult shot out. From the tee, players will be forced to punch out with a wedge or short iron. And if they knock it in the tall stuff, then good luck finding the ball.
That said, the players better make sure they’re hitting it straight as an arrow. Fairways and greens. Well, isn’t that always the point? Yes, but it’s especially important at Bethpage, where an errant shot will NOT be forgiven. Experts keep emphasizing that big hitters have an advantage, particularly if conditions remain damp. Fact. There are a few par 4s that are over 500 yards and some have to hit long irons and hybrids into them. But I feel like the guys that don’t necessarily kill the ball will be fine if they’re striking it well.
At the moment, the greens are soft. So the players have better control of the ball around the greens. But if they firm up, it will be much tougher to get-up-and-down, especially from the rough. Point being, keep missed shots in the short grass. Look for the guys that hit the most greens at the top of the leaderboard.