by Jeff Skinner
As a New Yorker I was glad to hear the announcement that Bethpage Black will be hosting the 2019 PGA and the 2024 Ryder Cup. The PGA of America is wise to utilize the best municipal course in America.
The New York metropolitan area has proven over and over again that the biggest sporting events thrive when held in the tri-state area. New York fans are passionate about their sports and golf is no different.
The 2002 and 2009 U.S. Opens that were held at The Black were very successful even with some less than perfect weather. The 1500 acres that Bethpage State Park occupies makes it a natural for major championships and especially all that comes with a Ryder Cup. If you think that previous Ryder Cups were crazy you haven’t seen nothing yet.
But what strikes me is that after such successful and popular Opens at The Black the USGA would walk area from such an attractive and profitable venue. It took some vision and guts to bring the U.S. Open to Bethpage and while the USGA has a handful of clubs it keeps in its rotation it appears they declined to keep The Black as one of them.
Recently things between the PGA of America and the USGA have been a bit testy with all that “anchored stroke” controversy. However there is a connection between the USGA dropping Bethpage and the PGA grabbing a hold of it. It’s Pete Bevacqua. Bevacqua is the current CEO of The PGA of America and when the USGA was holding its Opens at The Black he was a staffer with the USGA.
When New York State needed some answers and action concerning ticket refunds for the rain delayed 2009 U.S. Open the two men doing the negotiating were Bevacqua and then New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. So Andrew becomes governor and Pete jumps ship to the PGA and The Black gets a PGA and a Ryder Cup.
They say this game is all about the relationships you make. And thanks to Bevacqua there’s a good relationship between the PGA and New York State. And that means some big time events for Bethpage Black.
Bevacqua gushed about coming back to The Black, “The thought of having the PGA here in 2019 and then, just five years later, having one of the most exciting sporting events in the world in the Ryder Cup – it’s just a home run for the PGA of America. I’m really excited.”
“As someone who grew up in New York and a golf fanatic – I grew up in golf, started caddying when I was 10 – it never made sense to me that there hadn’t been a Ryder Cup in the New York City area,” he said. “I know a lot of things happen and I realize there are a lot of great sites around the country to have a Ryder Cup, but… maybe I’m biased. But to have the most exciting golf event in the world in this market at a public golf course like Bethpage Black, it’s just a perfect recipe for what we feel can really be a landmark event in golf.”
He is right; The Black is perfect for majors and can handle anything needed for a Ryder Cup. The PGA Championship will be spectacular but that Ryder Cup will be absolutely wild.