arizona golf arizona golf arizona golfBOOK REVIEW

Golf for the People: Bethpage and the Black

By Kiel T. Christianson,
Senior Writer

LANSING, MI - This year, the U.S. Open will be played for the first time on a public course, The Black Course at Bethpage State Park, New York. As such, this Open has already been dubbed "The People's Open," which is appropriate, since Bethpage Golf Club has been called "The People's Club" since its birth in 1932.

In his soon-to-be released book, Golf for the People: Bethpage and the Black, author Philip Young relates not only the history and legend of the course, but his own very personal connection to the Black. The book is highly recommended for all golfers who love the game as much for its history as for its challenge.

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The Black Course (Bethpage Black) opened in 1936. Designed by legendary A. W. Tillinghast, the course is considered by many to be not only Tillinghast's best work, but the epitome of U.S. golf course design. The Black is demanding, so much so that there is actually a sign at the first tee reading: "The Black is an extremely difficult golf course and is recommended only for the experienced player."

Mr. Young grew up near Bethpage, and recounts numerous anecdotes and stories, all individual, sparkling threads in the tapestry of the Black. While a few of these stories verge on the overly sentimental, one cannot help but appreciate the impact of this quintessentially American course on the lives of so many people who love the sport.

The book comprises 12 chapters. The best of these are the first, eighth, and tenth. The first chapter details how the park and the courses there came into existence. (The first golf ball was struck on the site way back in 1688.) The eighth chapter gives a play-by-play of May 11, 1962, when Mr. Young's older brother set the course record on the Black - a remarkable 62 during a tournament of Seminary students. (He never did become a priest, raising the suspicion of a deal with the Devil…) And the tenth chapter consists of an interview with Rees Jones, the esteemed golf course architect who renovated the Black to prepare it for the historic 2002 U.S. Open.

Although there are no photos of the course planned for the first edition of this book (which will be released on April 23rd, the 70th anniversary of the opening of Bethpage State Park), golf buffs will gain an immediate respect and appreciation for this year's U.S. Open venue.

People associated with the Black have always said they would like to see the pros play the course, to see how good they really are. This year, we will all get a chance to see both how good the pros are, and how great the Black is.

Ordering Information

Starting April 23rd, the book will be available to the public as follows:

Via the Internet:
From the publisher 1st Books Library at (,, or
By phone to 1st Books Library (888) 280-7715

February 10, 2002

Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management. The information in this story was accurate at the time of publication. All contact information, directions and prices should be confirmed directly with the golf course or resort before making reservations and/or travel plans.