Back to The Black: Hurricane Style

by Jeff Skinner

What do you do when a hurricane is approaching and everyone one around you is preparing for 60 mph winds, ten inches of rain and everything else associated with a hurricane?  If you’re a normal person you hunker down with a few days of supplies, cross your fingers and hope that the worst doesn’t hit you.

But if you’re a golf addict with a bad jones for a round of golf you head out to the course.  If you are really sick you head to a tough course.  But if you are terminally ill with the golf obsession you head out to Bethpage Black.  That’s what I did on Sunday with three other mentally disturbed golfers.

I had been trying to get back on The Black for a few months but between our schedules, work, weather, aeration, early sundown and a half dozen other variables the best we could do was Sunday at 12:50.  As Hurricane Sandy headed up to New York the four of us were confident we could play but we were certain to be soaked to the bone and we prepared accordingly.

Luckily, there were some less confident golfers who cancelled their tee times so before we left Sunday for the ride to Long Island I was able to trade up to a 12:05 time.  After we showed up at Bethpage and checked in we were told to head right out to the first tee and we would probably go right off.  Now that’s about as rare as making a birdie on the 15th at The Black.  Nobody ever birdies the 15th and no one ever “tees right off” at The Black.

Amazingly, that’s just what happened.  With a chance to get on the course earlier and therefore have no worries about the setting sun ending our round early, we passed on our warm up and headed to the starter’s shack.  And yes, due to a bunch of cancellations all we had to do was wait for one group on the tee to clear and we were off.

So we got our wish: playing The Black in cool, wet, windy conditions as Sandy approached.  Playing The Black is no easy task.  It is long and difficult and a chore even in the best of conditions but with a three club wind howling at us and no roll on a rain softened course we needed to have our head examined for taking on such a foolish challenge.

The four of us proceeded to hack our way around The Black and after a few holes we were warmed up enough to start making some pars.   The weather was surprisingly accommodating as there was little rain and all we needed to battle was the wind and of course Mr. Tillinghast’s creation.

Two of my group were playing The Black for the first time and they wouldn’t have missed the chance for anything.  If the course is open, we are playing was their rallying cry and a little rain or a hurricane wasn’t going to deter them.

The four off us took the weather as a challenge and tried to appreciate the fact that we were playing one of the toughest courses in the nation and doing it under the toughest of conditions.  We were golfers and real golfers don’t care about the elements.  Our scores reflected the challenge but all of us were glad we made the choice to test The Black on the toughest of days.  And a tip of the cap to all those golfers that braved Sandy’s winds to walk The Black: we weren’t the only fools out there.

This was my second excursion on The Black and on the first trip we were treated to a tornado that left the area without power for a week.  So maybe the golf gods are trying to tell me something; first a tornado, then a hurricane.  What’s next a tsunami?

But I know even if there was a forecast for a tsunami or an earthquake or whatever I would probably be right there again, alongside all those other addicts, walking The Black.  After all, this addiction is incurable and The Black is…well, The Black.

Click here for a link to The Bethpage Pro Shop.  It is full of the history of Bethpage and plenty of great info on The Black and all things Bethpage.



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