11 things that make Bethpage Black, home of the 2019 PGA Championship, one of the most difficult and quirkiest courses in the world

Patrick Reed walks through the tall grass at Bethpage Black.

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Patrick Reed walks through the tall grass at Bethpage Black.
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Jamie Squire/Getty Images

  • This weekend, the best golfers in the world will meet in New York at Bethpage Black to compete in the PGA Championship.
  • Bethpage Black is a course with plenty of history and has played host to some outstanding tournaments in the past, most notably, the 2002 and 2009 U.S. Open.
  • The course on Long Island is also notoriously difficult and even warns the players before attempting to conquer it.
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The greatest golfers in the world have gathered at Bethpage Black this weekend to compete in the 101st PGA Championship.

While Bethpage Black might not be as iconic as Augusta National, it’s a course with plenty of history, that has played host to some outstanding tournaments in the past, most notably, the 2002 and 2009 U.S. Open.

Bethpage Black presents an interesting challenge to golfers. Between its length and its notoriously tricky rough, the course is sure to cause chaos even for the most cool-headed of golfers.

Below we go through what makes Bethpage Black one of the most challenging courses players will face all year.


The course is notoriously difficult.

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It’s in the title of this post, but it’s worth saying again – Bethpage Black is not a course for the faint of heart.

When Tiger Woods won the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black, he was the only golfer in the field to finish his four rounds under par. Phil Mickelson finished in second, shooting even par, with Jeff Maggert (+2) and Sergio Garcia (+3) as the only other golfers to finish better than 5-over.

Bethpage Black has a way of humbling even the best golfers in the world.


Three of the course’s par-4 holes measure longer than 500 yards, and three others are at least 470.

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Jamie Squire/Getty Images

So what makes Bethpage Black such a challenge? First and foremost, it’s a long, long course, measuring a whopping 7,459 yards over its 18 holes with just 70 strokes to par.

The most treacherous stretch of the course comes at Nos. 10, 11, and 12, where players face three straight par-4s, two of which measure longer than 500 yards.

While other courses reward a strong drive with the opportunity to hit a relatively simple iron onto the green, Bethpage Black demands perfection from both the drive and approach in order to reach the green in regulation.

Due to the split-start of the groups at the PGA Championship this weekend, some players will be forced to take on this difficult set of holes as soon as they step to their first tee box of the day.


Bethpage Black is a public golf course, and widely considered one of the best in the country.

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While many of courses that host majors have exclusive membership, Bethpage Black is a public course, open to any and all players ready to pay the greens fee.

Golf Digest named it the eighth-best public course in the country, putting Bethpage Black among the likes of Pebble Beach, Whistling Straits, and Shadow Creek.

Even the most passionate golfers are rarely afforded the chance to play at courses like Augusta National, which remains solely for members, guests, and those taking part in the Masters. But Bethpage Black is a course for the people.


Bethpage State Park is actually home to five golf courses, with Bethpage Black the most daunting of the five.

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For those hoping to play some golf in the Long Island area but unsure if they are up to the challenge presented by Bethpage Black, never fear!

Bethpage State Park features an impressive five courses of 18 holes each – Green, Blue, Yellow, Red, and Black, with Black being the most difficult of the five.


A sign warns the players that casual golfers might be better off finding a different course.

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In case the distance and scores from professional golfers weren’t enough to steer away any casual duffers, Bethpage Black even has a sign warning those that approach.

“WARNING,” the sign reads. “The Black Course Is An Extremely Difficult Course Which We Recommend Only For Highly Skilled Golfers.”

The origins of the sign were a mystery for a long time, but the New York Post reported ahead of the 2019 PGA Championship that the sign came about thanks to Mike Asheroff, who was the deputy regional director for the Long Island State Parks in the 1980s.

“We went out there and some guy had decided he was going to teach his wife to play golf on Memorial Day on the Black Course,” Asheroff told The Post in a telephone interview. “There were four or five empty holes in front of them and a foursome of very angry Asian golfers behind them. They were getting upset with the man and the woman and their English wasn’t good. To hurry them up, they hit several balls into him and his wife. He turned around and hit the balls back at them. They all became extremely angry.”

Asheroff was eventually able to get the slow group off the course and settle the situation but to avoid future conflicts, he scribbled down the copy of the sign and sent off parks superintendent Eric Siebert to get it made.

And thus, the most iconic image of Bethpage Black was born.


The course is so long, it takes a 15-20 minute ride to get from the clubhouse to the 10th tee.

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Again, this course is long, and due to the layout of Bethpage Black, it takes quite a ride to get from one side of the course to the other.

While this won’t be an issue for the final rounds of the PGA Championship, on Thursday and Friday half of the field – including the group featuring Tiger Woods, Francesco Molinari, and Brooks Koepka – will be starting from the 10th tee, meaning that players will have to venture out to the other side of the course before starting their round.


The rough… is rough.

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Jamie Squire/Getty Images

As if Bethpage Black’s length wasn’t already enough of a challenge, the course punishes those that veer off course with some brutal rough, from a difficult second cut just off the fairway, to a few stretches of tall grass should players miss wildly.

Because of the distance of the course, players that are used to playing relatively straight can often find themselves out of position after attempting to push a drive or a long iron as far as it could go.

The result is a bit of chaos, and in some cases, a complete unraveling from some of the best golfers on the planet.


Fans can also be a factor.

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Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Bethpage Black doesn’t have the rowdy fans that have made the Waste Management Phoenix Open famous, but the New York crowd has made itself known at past major events held at the course.

At the 2002 U.S. Open, fans openly heckled Sergio Garcia as he attempted to chase down Tiger Woods atop the leaderboard. Could the crowd once again be a factor this weekend?


It’s just the fourth course to host both the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship in the past 25 years.

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Christian Petersen/PGA of America/PGA of America via Getty Images

While many courses have been lucky enough to host both prestigious tournaments throughout their history, in the past 25 years it has become a fairly rare occurrence for one course to host both the PGA Championship and the U.S. Open.

This year, Bethpage Black will join Winged Foot, Southern Hills, and Oakland Hills as the fourth course to host both tournaments in the past quarter-century. Bethpage Black will also play host to the Ryder Cup in 2024.


Only walking is permitted on the course.

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Despite its length, Bethpage Black does not offer the option of taking out a cart for the round that will send golfers nearly 8,000 yards around the course. Instead, players can opt for a pushcart or a caddie to carry their bag.

This year, however, there will be an exception to this rule, as John Daly, who won the PGA Championship in 1991, will play from a cart due to issues he’s having with his knee.


New York residents can get a tee time for just $65.

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Not only is Bethpage Black a public course, but it’s also rather affordable!

For New York residents looking to play the course, greens fees for 18 holes cost just $65 on weekdays and $75 on weekends, with discounts available to those who opt for a twilight tee time.

At the other courses at Bethpage, playing 18 holes can be as low as $38 as long as you are willing to play in the middle of the week.


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