Got back to playin’ Black opening weekend like the good ol’ days. Last spring I ended up playing the second weekend, as you might recall, breaking a streak of five consecutive years of first day honors.
Anyway, there’s a real lot of good and very little bad to report from thee Black course, which will host the 2012
U.S. Open Barclays in August. It was still a strange feeling, however, when I was standing on the 14th green glaring slack-jawed across Round Swamp Road at the devilish 15th, where the fairway begins to rise toward the heavens, muddled as to how another major isn’t on the radar anytime soon.
Let’s break it down:
- Arrived at the Bethpage Park Motel promptly at 5:30 a.m. and was greeted with more cars than I’ve ever seen parked at the Bethpage Park Motel. My buddy and I even backed into a parking spot we didn’t know existed. We got the last bakery tickets. At 5:30 a.m. Insane #UNGROWGOLF.
- WAIT: Stood outside the clubhouse for 30 minutes, the longest I’ve waited in over a dozen years, until our numbers (109 and 110) were called. Nonetheless, we lucked out as a twosome, 9:04 a.m. on the second day the Black was operating in 2012.
- WEATHER: Unusually warm (an obvious trend of the winter/early spring seasons), but super breezy (isn’t it always?). About a two-club wind on the back nine especially.
- ROUGH: My second shot of the day came from the famed rough, which, not surprisingly, was already tough and rugged. Even though I had a knockdown 9-iron into the first green and a seemingly reasonable lie, the grass still managed to snatch my clubhead, causing me to fly left into super gnarly greenside rough. It will get longer, but damn the Black came out growling.
- GREENS: You might remember last year, when the greens on a few holes were completely ruined. I’m talkin’ dirt. The greens were literally masses of dirt and had to be closed for an extended period of time. Well now imagine the complete opposite. Just tremendous– smooth and true and consistent. Go ahead, eat breakfast of ’em. Sure they’ve ran a lot faster before but it was the second freakin’ day of the season! In three weeks they’ll be 10/10.
- BUNKERS: It’s Jones Beach out there. By far my biggest gripe, probably cuz I found five different bunkers, four of which drew up ungodly lies. Two of the four landed in previous hole left by children who had apparently been digging to China. (Not really, it was just the wind spiking my balls in the sand.) The other two fell victim to criminal rake jobs. I know they just added new sand in a lot of ’em, but good god is there a lot. Too much.
- TIME: We played in five hours flat, which is the going rate for a round on Black. And that’s not playing slow. There was a bit of a holdup on the par-3s, which is the norm. But who the hell cares, you’re out on the damn Black. Look around, sniff the air and then tell me where you’d rather be.
Call in sick to work, disappear from your family for a day, do anything you possibly could to get out there within the next month (before aerations are scheduled). Some of the best conditions you’ll see all year.
And get there early if you wanna play early. Like 1 or 2 a.m. Try making reservations only if you have two hours to kill trying to get through a Belt-Parkway-jammed phone system. And pretty, pretty please take a minute to rake the bunkers PROPERLY so you don’t screw the groups behind you. Especially when they’re invested in a fairly large money game.