Farmingdale, NY — Clocking in at 7,426 yards (see scorecard), the 2009 U.S. Open , played at Bethpage State Park’s Black Course, presents a truly challenging test of golf. This year’s set-up includes some interesting wrinkles, including 212 more yards 2002’s set-up – also played on the Black Course.
Mike Davis, the USGA’s Senior Director of Rules & Competitions, had this to say about the 2009 set-up, “we want to introduce more risk/reward, and that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to be an easier test of golf.” Davis went on to say, “…we want to give the players a choice. Do you want to play conservative, or do you want to be more aggressive? And if you go to the latter and you pull it off, we want you to be rewarded with a birdie, perhaps even an eagle. But if you do try it, and you don’t pull it off, we want to see you penalized.”
This year’s field will have to contend with three par-4s over 500 yards, including the longest in Open history. The monster 525 yard par-4 7th hole plays longer than the par-5 8th hole (only 517 yards). The longest hole on the course is a 605 yard par-5 on the 13th hole. The longest hole in U.S. Open History registered 667 yards at 2007 U.S. Open played at Oakmont.
Multiple teeing areas per hole and reworked greens offer Open officials the ability to change a hole’s look from day to day. A prime example is the par-3 8th hole, which can play from 135 yards to 230 yards in length. Mike Davis considered the shorter tee box and reworked 8th green, “I think that’s a classic risk/reward (scenario), saying, ‘Do you want to try to hit your wedge, 9‑ and 8‑iron right to it?’” Davis further worked through the options, ” if they land on the green with too much spin, they can spin back in the water; and if they land short it’s going to go back in the water. So they could play safe and hit it 10 yards beyond the flagstick, but now they have a tough putt coming down.”
New to Bethpage, but not the Open, is graduated rough. Ranging from 1 ¾ to 6 inches deep, the three cuts of rough penalize a player the further off line his ball goes. As with the past few years, the USGA is trying to ‘fit the penalty with the crime.’ Practically that means allowing players to make shots out of short rough close to the fairway, but penalizing players who hit errant shots with 4 to 6 inches of raked rough.
The 2009 layout features slightly widened fairways over 2002’s set-up – averaging 29-yards. And as always, the greens will be rolling fast – 14+ feet on the Stimpmeter is the stated goal.
The 2002 U.S. Open, hosted at Bethpage Black, made history as the first U.S. Open to be contested on a truly public golf course. The state owned course handles more than 30,000 rounds per year. In fact, Bethpage is the largest public golf facility in the world with it five 18-hole golf courses. Read more Bethpage history here. The 2009 U.S. Open will be played on June 18 – 21.