Host of the 2002 & 2009 US Open, Bethpage State Park represents the best public golf in the US has to offer.  Best know of the Black course, Bethpage offer five total courses – Red, Green, Blue, Yellow and Black.  Bethpage is a true test of golf, available to the average player and pro alike.
 
In 1912, the railroad magnate Benjamin Yoakum bought 1,368 acres of woodland and farmland in the Bethpage area. In 1923, the Lenox Hills Country Club, on land leased from Yoakum, opened as a semiprivate 18-hole course designed by Devereaux Emmet, the architect of the Garden City Golf Club. Years later Lenox Hills would be transformed into the Green Course.

Yoakum died in 1930 and four years later, in the midst of the Depression, the Bethpage State Park Authority was created by State Parks Commissioner Robert Moses. Construction of the clubhouse and three courses, under the supervision of the legendary golf architect A. W. Tillinghast, began in 1934 as a federal Works Progress Administration project that employed 1,800 men.

On Aug. 10, 1935, the Red and Blue courses opened, along with a revised Green Course and the Bethpage clubhouse, a Colonial-style building with a circular drive.

Tillinghast, who designed Winged Foot and Baltusrol, is also considered the architect of the Black Course by Bethpage officials despite the claim by Joe Burbeck that his father, Joseph Burbeck, the original Bethpage superintendent, was the Black’s real designer and that Tillinghast was merely a consultant. The Black opened in 1936.

In 1958, the Yellow Course was added. It absorbed some of the holes on the Blue and new holes were added to fill out both courses. In 1982 and again in 1987, the Black Course was refurbished; the bunkers were filled with new sand and restored to their original shape.

But those renovations were merely a touch of rouge and lipstick compared to the architect Rees Jones’s surgery transforming the Black Course into the site of the 2002 US Open.  Playing 7,214-yard and a par 70, Bethpage Black was the longest golf cours in Open history to that point.  Tiger Woods, winner of the 2002 US Open, was the only play to finish under par with a three under (277).

This is a working draft.  If you have news/articles/additions, please send them to me here.

Footnotes
  • NYTimes: GOLF; U.S. Open Is Returning To Bethpage Black in ’09
  • NYTimes: U.S. OPEN; At Bethpage, Five Courses and a Long History
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