When the 2002 U.S. Open came to Bethpage, I was too young to enjoy or appreciate the event. When it came again in 2009, I was only starting to appreciate its power. As Bethpage prepares for its latest PGA event, the Barclays, in the summer of 2012, I’ll be ready. You should be too.
I never actually attended the ’02 or ’09 U.S. Opens, but in some ways, I didn’t really need to. The excitement generated by the world-famous Black course and the world renowned event diffused from the course and into the surrounding area. No location was impacted more than the Bethpage State Park, where The Black course resides.
Throughout the Open week in 2009, I spent my time running the trails surrounding the golf courses – and enjoying the sudden mayhem in the usually tame state park. I saw cars (nice ones) lining every inch of the park roads, kids on bikes trying to bypass security through the course’s many unguarded entry points, and police everywhere. In the parking lot, ticketholders in polos walked determinedly to a line of buses that shuttled fans to the course. Even after the tournament, a friend and I rode the buses to enormous souvenir tents for half-priced (where 50% of extremely expensive means just plain expensive) merchandise. It was like experiencing the atmosphere of a Yankee game while putting in a run, while enjoying the scenery of the state park (and, of course, not actually watching the game). For the price of zero dollars, I’ll take that combination every time.
Though the air at a PGA golf event in Bethpage may equal the level of intensity at Yankee Stadium, the type of atmosphere it creates is certainly different. For one, instead of traveling to see the pros, the pros travel to us (as even the most distant Long Islander is closer to Bethpage than 99% of the PGA). As fans and nearby residents, we play a unique role of host. We want to show the world how Bethpage/Long Island takes in a golf tournament. Add that sense of blue collar pride tied to Bethpage’s identification as a public course (nearly all famous courses are private) and the buzz emitting from the last two Opens was distinctly jocular for a golf tournament. Only at Bethpage do Sportscenter anchors mention “rowdy fans” and “golf” in the same sentence.
When the excitement returns to Bethpage this upcoming summer, take a trip into the state park for a run, hike, picnic, or at the least walk the streets of the Bethpage/Farmingdale area (Bethpage Black is actually in Farmingdale) – especially if you’re looking to save money and are unsure of your ability to watch an entire round of professional golf. The Barclays may not attract the cameras of ESPN and front paper coverage, but it’s one of the most well-known tournaments outside of the four majors and has always been associated with a certain air of prestige. This summer, experience firsthand the rare treat of Bethpage and PGA golf.
This Article was Written by Scott Bickard.
The views and opinions expressed on this web site are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Long Island Media, LongIsland.com staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.