The U.S. Open returns to Bethpage State Park’s Black Course in Farmingdale, N.Y., for the second time in seven years, June 18-21, with GCSAA Class A member Craig Currier becoming just the second superintendent to host more than one U.S. Open at the same facility.
Paul Jett, CGCS at Pinehurst (N.C.) No. 2 was the first, hosting in 1999 and 2005.
“I think it’s going to be even better than the last time,” said Currier, who has directed golf course management operations at Bethpage’s five courses for the past 12 years. “We’ve had another seven years to get everything ready and just the way we want it. In addition to the actual playing surfaces, the entire facility is dialed in. Last time, people were wondering if a state park could actually pull it off. Now that we’ve ‘been there [and] done that,’ I think everyone is a bit more comfortable. The only thing that I really worry about is the weather. I just want it to be dry the week of the championship more than anything.”
Bethpage State Park became the first publicly owned facility to host the U.S. Open in 2002. Built in the mid-1930s, Bethpage State Park was designed by architect A.W. Tillinghast. The Black Course was refurbished in 1982 and again in 1987, and then the USGA spent $2.7 million in 1997 to have Rees Jones renovate it in anticipation of the 2002 U.S. Open.
The greens and tees were rebuilt and laser-leveled as part of the 1997 renovations. A new irrigation system was installed, as well as additional drainage, and the bunkers were restored to reflect original Tillinghast design and style, including all-new sand. A new maintenance facility was also constructed, using state funds, to replace the one built in the 1930s.
The Black Course was merely tweaked in preparation for this year’s U.S. Open. The changes amount to about 225 yards of added length in the form of new championship tees on seven holes, some recontouring of fairways, and new or renovated fairway and greenside bunkers on seven holes. Currier also attempted to make the rough less thick by reducing fertilizer and overseeding.
The USGA will set up the Black Course at par 70, 7,426 yards, with the rough of Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass and fine fescue cut at graduating heights starting at 1 1/2 inches closest to the fairway, 2 1/2 inches six feet out, and four inches 20 feet out. Currier will have the bentgrass greens rolling at 14 feet on the Stimpmeter. The Black Course will boast three of the longest par 4s in U.S. Open history this year. The 525-yard seventh will be the longest par 4.
Tell Us What You Think!
You must be logged in to post a comment.