Course Notes: Bethpage Black
|Hole 1 – Knowing your club distance is a big plus here. It’s good to land in the fairway always, but even if you do not a nice punch shot from the rough will still save par. On the drive I use full back spin to carry the trees.
The second shot here is the most critical component. Landing under the hole is the best option for both pin placements, but the front pin placement it is vital for an easy birdie putt.
|Hole 2 – A nice drive on the fairway will leave you perfect for the second shot. If you hit the rough it is difficult to get up to the green. Normally in 40-50% rough I add 20 but on this hole you’re best to add 30.
Second shot is deceiving. Use your original math to get the up, for me it’s half if I’m using my pitching wedge, but most of the time I’m using my Cleveland in which case it’s 1/3. Whatever you came up with divide that by 2. With my Cleveland’s I use no spin and hit it flat, but with my PW I use 90% back spin to help stop it.
|Hole 3 – Tricky little hole for a nice tee shot. Back pin placement from legend tee’s I normally hit my 225 3 iron unless I have wind against me. Front tee is a more difficult shot, but bellow the hole is the best option if you can get it there. A par can be made even with a bad drive on either pin location and with a great drive I’ve made many birdies here.|
|Hole 4 – There are a couple of different ways to play hole 4 and I’ll tell you my way. First you have to land on the fairway to make the second shot. If you hit the rough then this will not work for you.
The second shot I play to the green left of the flag. Make sure to hit it hard enough, you want to roll to the bottom of the green into the fairway on the backside.
My 3rd shot is a pitch shot. My formula for this shot is a little different because I’m using half roll.
Example: I’m 19 yards from the pin with 12 wind in my face. I subtract 5 from the shot which gives me a 14 then I add 1 for the wind so my shot is a 15 pitch with half top. (Please note that this is from experience and you may have to play with it a little) Before I shoot in first person view I move the box on the flag to the right until the left edge is touching the pole. I’ve made several eagles this way, but also always guarantee myself a birdie because I’m inches from the hole.
|Hole 5 – The first trick on this hole is to make sure that you hit the fairway because the elevation of the second shot makes it near impossible to hit the green from the rough.
It is rare that the pin is not in the back but the approach is almost the same except that with the pin in the back I take 2 to 3 yards off my reading, any more than that and I’ll hit short. The ball will roll out no matter what I use 90% back spin. If the pin is on the right side I do not take anything off my shot.
The putt if you landed on the green is rarely below the pin. I normally land beside it after the roll out. Beside the pin and above it makes for a tough putt. This par 4 is a par hole, and do not feel bad if you get a bogie. I’ve had very few birdies here.
|Hole 6 – A relatively easy birdie hole even if you land in the rough. However, the sand trap will take away that birdie quick. Because of the drive you need to determine two things. First you are hitting at an angle. I use the little triangle at the end of my aim marker and the little map to help me judge where the ball will land. If you drive with full top spin and hit the middle of that hill you will roll out for a fantastic drive in the fairway. If you hit the rough on the left there is a good chance that you will roll out of it, but if not you are still in good standing. The rough here is fairly easy to punch out of and land on the green.
Pin placement does matter here as the forward pin has a much easier putt for birdie, the back pin it’s best to be below the hole although the break is not that bad beside it or above it.
|Hole 7 – Tough hole to make a birdie, and a par can be tough as well if your second shot is not right on the money. On the drive I try to layup as close to the trees on the right as I can. This of course will not work if you cannot get past the trees. If you can’t you will have a longer second shot, but at least it will be a safe shot.
There are two pin placements here and the back pin is my favorite, I just don’t get it that often. If it is the back pin I only use a ¼ back spin and take 5 off the distance for the roll up. You may have to practice this technique a few times to get it dialed in.
The most common place for the pin is the front right behind the sand bunker. If you are far and can’t get there play the fairway with top spin to roll up on the green to the left of the bunker. Hitting that bunker is not fun to get out of, and the rough surrounding it is even worst.
If you can get there on this pin placement be sure to hit it with full backspin. It will still roll, but occasionally I get a nice position for a putt. Hitting past the flag, which I do most of the time leaves me an ugly downhill putt, that I rarely make but do at least save myself the par. If you have to play to the left you will have another tough putt, but remember to play this hole for par. I rarely make birdies here and have had more bogeys than I can count.
|Hole 8 – I’m not a strong par 3 player. I never look at a par 3 as a birdie hole, but I always look at them as a par hole. The only tips I can give you here are the following. If the pin is in the front it’s best to hit below the hole, although that is tough to do. On this hole I’m always short or long left or right. There is no rhyme or reason for it. The back pin which you see rarely is a much easier putt than the front and I make birdies on that location more than the front pin.|
|Hole 9 – A fairly easy hole if the conditions are right. On the drive as long as I don’t have wind in my face I can clear the bunkers to get farther into the fairway. This approach makes the second shot easier. The more loft you have on your club the easier it is to stop it. If the wind is in my face I will play a little right of the bunker because the fairway slopes right to left and if you hit to close to the bunker then you may roll in or possibly be in the rough.
Note: The bunker and brush around it is almost an impossible shot. Aim for fairway and play it safe. If in bunker play the fairway to the right. If in rough above bunker don’t expect to go far even with a punch shot, play for fairway.
There are two pin locations and the close pin is the easiest to get to. The back pin you have to hit over sand, and unless you land the green just right there will be roll out. The back pin is a tricky putt if you are above it or beside it, but it’s makeable. There is definitely a possible birdie here, but I consider the hole a par hole.
2nd shot you want to hit the green so be sure to add in the up on the shot. I use 90% back spin and the ball will stop. If you hit the rough right before the green the ball may roll out past the flag leaving yourself a slight downhill putt.
|Hole 10 – There are two different pin locations on this hole. The forward pin is easy, but the back pin anywhere but directly under the hole is a tough putt. I would say out of all the putts on Bethpage Black this hole tops the chart.
Your second shot is a long one with a slight uphill, so getting a nice stop on the green is tough.
|Hole 11 – Pretty straight forward par 4. There are two pin placements here and the back pin which is on the left is the easier of the two. The close pin you will need to hit over sand and stop the ball. Both pins should be played short, which is tough if you are playing the close pin. Hitting past the pin will give you a downhill putt, left or right of the pin there is a slight break.|
|Hole 12 – The drive here may be made over the center of the sand trap for a good spot on the fairway. Be sure to know that your club can hit the distance but legends only need to clear 260 yards.
There are two pin locations here and the front location deserves being precise because of sand, and rough. The back pin tends to play a little long and I normally add 3 or 4 yards to my swing. The front pin I play exact because I would rather be short with a chip shot than to be long and putt downhill.
|Hole 13 – This hole is a par 5 but as a legend with 605 distance I’ve only eagled this one a couple of times on my third shot to the green. It’s definitely a birdie hole if played correctly.
On my drive I try to stay to the right of the fairway so my second shot with my 3 wood I don’t have to worry about the rough much.
My second shot is normally my 3 wood, and in case I might hit the sand I lay up to the left of the bunkers.
My 3rd shot is normally a punch shot to the green but here is where it gets tricky.
Front pin location is the worst. Above or beside the pin you are left with a tough birdie. Try to land under the pin if you can for an easy putt. Back pin location is not as bad as front pin and the putts around it although not easy are far easier than the front pin.
If you have to chip or pitch the best position is below the hole. Beside the hole you have a lot of break to adjust for.
|Hole 14 – This is one nasty par 3. Getting a great drive may give you a birdie, but I’ve only had a couple on this hole. The green is vicious almost every way you look at it. I would like to say that being short of the flag is the best option but by doing that you take away your chance for a hole in one. Read the wind, set your line and hope for the best. I normally par this hole, but I’ve had a share of bogeys here as well.
Only other tip I can give you on this hole is that the green seems just a tad slow, I would add at least 1 to your shot if it’s uphill.
|Hole 15 – Many players hate this hole and I can understand why. Personally I like the hole because it offers a great challenge. First thing is first and that is to ensure that you hit the fairway on your drive. I’ve never been able to make it to the green from the rough although I have come close.
The second shot here is the important shot. To get a clear prospective of the shot use the rear camera on the mini map. Move your aiming box to the right until it covers the 115 marker between 107 and 108. That is the area that you want to hit the green. I use 80% back spin just to help stop the roll up. You want the ball to take that line and it will roll back toward the hole. Don’t over hit the ball or you will land on the top and that makes for an impossible putt.
The next tip I can give is that if you are unsure about the angle aim a little higher and the ball sometimes rolls back into the cup!
Back pin on this hole play it a little different. There is still an ugly putt, but on the approach get your total distance and subtract 5. You are going to roll and it’s better to stop on the green then to have to chip that nasty shot from the back rough.
|Hole 16 – Some say this hole plays long about 5 or 6 yards, but when I add on the extra I go long. If you find yourself falling short on this hole then give the extra yards a try and I hope it works for you.
It doesn’t matter pin placement both have breaks on them. The catch here is to get close enough to the hole that you don’t have to deal with the breaks. This hole can be a birdie if you land nice on the second shot.
|Hole 17 – The only tip I can give you on this hole is to get your measurements correct, and use backspin to stop the ball. Remember that if you are a little short and hit the edge of the rough before the green you are libel to roll to the other side of the green. The putts are not tough on this hole and I’ve even made a hole in one here before. This is a birdie hole if you have a nice drive to the green.|
|Hole 18 – This hole has a couple of factors to be aware of. Doesn’t matter pin location it is best to be short of the pin. Past the pin or right or left you have a difficult putt. This hole is normally a par hole for me because stopping the ball short of the pin is difficult when the pin is in the back. You have sand to hit over and if you are short you have an even more difficult shot that might lead you past the pin as well.|
In conclusion you can see that the back 9 is a bit more challenging than the front 9. The course is a ton of fun to play, and with a little practice you may make this your favorite course. To each his own, but this is the basics of how I play the course, and you may have learned something or even saw something different than the style you play. Give it a whirl and let me know your thoughts in the comments bellow.