Brad Klein of Golfweek details changes in progress at Bethpage Black in advance of the 2009 U.S. Open.
The work at Bethpage-Black is being designed by architect Rees Jones, with construction work carried out in-house and overseen by superintendent Craig Currier. The work, paid for by Bethpage (unlike earlier renovation work there, which was funded by the USGA) is already well underway, with new tees and at least one major bunker in place, and more slated in the next few months.What a great use of state funds!
The par-70 course, which played 7,214 yards in 2002, is being stretched by 250 yards to 7,464 yards. Not coincidentally, the 3.5 percent additional length correlates closely to the 3.2 percent gain in average driving distance on the PGA Tour from 2002 (280 yards) to 2007 (289.2 yards).Does that mean in 2018 they will...ah forget it.
The two biggest changes to Bethpage-Black are taking place on the only two holes that played to an average score of under par during the 2002 U.S. Open. The par-5 13th hole (avg. score in 2002 was 4.941) is being stretched from 554 yards to 605, with a new tee currently under construction adjacent to a new pump station that is being installed. The hole is also slated to get a new fairway bunker that will pinch the driving area from the left.Glad we're correcting those defects!
This was interesting:
During a site inspection by USGA officials to Bethpage on Tuesday, plans were also discussed by which Bethpage-Black would be develop a density of rough that was not quite as thick, lush and punitive as was the case during recent U.S. opens such as at Winged Foot in 2006 or Oakmont in 2007. Mike Davis, USGA senior director of rules and competitions, who was among those at Bethpage-Black this week, said “the goal would be to have rough that’s penal, but playable – not just chopping out, but would leave players with the chance to advance the ball, even if the spin were taken off and it would be difficult to control.”
That model of rough was first developed at Pinehurst No. 2 in 1999 and represents a refinement of the idea that primary rough ought to be simply a punishment. It remains to be seen how such a rough can be achieved on Bethpage’s notoriously dense, heavily fertilized ryegrass, with some Poa annua, bluegrass and fescue. But course officials have plenty of time to figure that out, as well as to complete installation of those new back tees.
Maybe Phil's wrist injury actually did hit home with the USGA and just maybe someone (well, Mike Davis) has the sense to start telling these courses to throttle back with the rough-on-steroids harvesting?
Maybe Phil doesn't need to write that letter of apology to Oakmont, as Tim Rosaforte suggested?