Bethpage Black will stage the U.S. PGA Championship for the first time 2019 in what is a new era for the major as it becomes the second of the year.
The U.S. PGA Championship has always traditionally been the fourth and final major of the year in August, but this year it switches to May to become the second after the U.S. Masters at Augusta.
The streamlining of the majors was designed to create a consist path of one per month and it is Bethpage Black which gets the honour of staging the first U.S. PGA since the switch, with Brooks Koepka bidding to defend the title he won at Bellerive Country Club in 2018.
Bethpage Black History
Bethpage Black is one of five publicly-owned courses forming part of Bethpage State Park. It has a rich history having first been opened for play in 1936.
Bethpage Black may not have hosted any of the previous 100 U.S. PGA Championships, but the course has staged two majors already—the U.S. Open in 2002 and 2009 when Tiger Woods and Lucas Glover each won the title.
Located in Farmingdale, New York, Bethpage Black has also hosted what is now known as The Northern Trust during the FedEx Series PlayOffs with Nick Watney and Patrick Reed triumphing in 2012 and 2016 respectively. That event will return to Bethpage in 2021 and 2027.
Bethpage Black will also host the 2024 Ryder Cup having been named as the host course for the 45th edition of the bi-annual contest between the United States and Europe.
Bethpage Black Course
Bethpage Black is regarded as one of the toughest in the United States and will offer a serious test for the world’s best when they tee it up between May 16-19
At 7,468 yards, the par-71 (or par 70 for both US Opens) Bethpage Black has been described as a brute of a course. But despite the difficulty it sits comfortably in the top 50 of Golf Digest’s best golf courses in the United States. It is among the top 10 in New York too.
The renowned sign at Bethpage Black reads: “Warning. The Black Course Is An Extremely Difficult Course Which We Recommend Only For Highly Skilled Golfers.”
Three-time major winner Jordan Spieth sums up the general opinion of Bethpage Black, saying: “This course is up there with the hardest probably top five courses I’ve ever played in my life.”
So what makes it so difficult? The length is the obvious starting point and the resulting need to be particularly accurate from the tee. The greens, with the odd exception, aren’t undulating but it is getting there unscathed that is key to scoring well.
With just two par-5s for majors with the normally par-5 7th hole played instead as a long par-4, the birdie opportunities on longer holes are limited. At the same time, only one of the four par-3s measures less than 200 yards making Bethpage Black no easy beat.
The par-5 4th hole will be one of the risk and reward options for those wanting to go birdie hunting, while a quartet of par-4s—holes 5, 7, 10 and 15—will be others the leading players target to pick up a shot if the prevailing wind is in the normal direction.
But as has been seen before with Bethpage Black, tiptoeing around and avoid damage to a round is the way to play this beast.