BETHPAGE HOSTS FOR FIRST TIME
By John R. Craig
Later this summer, the best amateurs around the Capital Area and the state will have a chance to join the likes of Tiger Woods, Lucas Glover and Jeb Buchanan and become a champion at Bethpage Black
. That’s because this year, for the first time, the famous municipal course is hosting the New York State Golf Association’s signature event
, the Men’s Amateur.
“We found a time that worked and just lined it up to make it happen,” the NYSGA Assistant Executive Director Andrew Hickey told Capitalareagolf.com. “Bethpage was very important for us.”
It has that famous sign behind the first tee box, is known for players camping out all night get a tee time and hosts all comers. Rumored for months, on Monday, the NYSGA officially announced the 95th NYS Men’s Amateur will be played on Bethpage State Park’s Black Course August 8-10.
Andrew Hickey, NYSGA
Hickey says it’s been a dream of his ever since he read John Feinstein’s book, “The Open,” recounting how Bethpage State Park’s venerable “Black” course landed the U.S. Open. The learned of the back story and, until then, didn’t know that part of the golf business. Now he expects to get the same interest when the Men’s Am is played at a course like Oak Hill in Rochester.
“That’s kind of our target, somewhere in the 600-700 (entry) range,” Hickey said. “We’re way ahead of last year already and kind of on those target numbers. It’s funny, a lot of people don’t sign-up or register until the last week.”
Before now, the closest the NYSGA came to Bethpage was 2013 when it lined up the “Red” course only to find out there was a conflict with the New York State Open. That forced them to move the Men’s Am to Schuyler Meadows Club in Loudonville for the first time. When that happened, the powers that be looked at the calendar once and for all.
Loudonville’s Jeb Buchanan is presented with the winning check at the 2015 Lenox Advisors New York State Open by Scott Greenfield, Managing Director of Lenox Advisors, Inc., at Bethpage Black on Thursday, July 16 in a playoff. Photo: Paul Giordano/Met PGA.
New York State Director of Golf Kevin Cassidy, who is from Albany, stops to pose for a picture with friends, as he makes his rounds at Bethpage in 2009.
Traditionally, the NYS Open (pros and ams) and the Porter Cup in the Rochester area were conflicts for players. So, instead of playing it the second or third week of July, the NYSGA moved its crown jewel event to early August last year, playing it at Mohawk Golf Club. But even when the trophy was handed out, they couldn’t say definitively where the 2017 version would be played – until now.
Hickey credits Kevin Cassidy, the NYS Director of Golf Operations and an outstanding Capital Area golfer, with helping to make this happen. Hickey joked to Cassidy: “What would it take?” Cassidy met with Betsy Wintenberger, the Bethpage park director, and despite a full calendar and a “bucket list” mentality, they were able to make it happen.
“We decided to move the championship to August to avoid both of those so now we don’t have that conflict,” said Hickey. “There are so many tournaments that go on in New York State between the Metropolitan area, all the local district golf associations, so there’s hard to find a week where there’s no conflict.”
Lucas Glover won the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black.
BIG EVENTS AT BETHPAGE
Bethpage is a name brand that will excite golfers for sure. Tiger Woods won the U.S. Open in 2002, the first time the national championship was played on a truly public municipal course; Lucas Glover won the rain-delayed U.S. Open on a Monday in 2009 and Phil Mickelson was T2 for a sixth time; Loudonville’s Jeb Buchanan, an aspiring tour pro, won the 2015 NYS Open on The Black, a course he calls his favorite.
In two years, the PGA of America joins the fray, bringing the PGA Championship there in 2019 and the Ryder Cup in 2024. The Barclays, the first round of the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup Playoffs, was played there last year and in 2012 and it will be played again there in 2021 and 2027.
“We found an opportunity to play,” Hickey said.
The deadline for entry is Friday, June 16. Ironically, that’s the second round of this year’s U.S. Open. The NYS Men’s Amateur is open to male amateur golfers who are members of the NYSGA with an up-to-date Handicap Index not exceeding 7.4, issued by a golf club which is licensed to use the USGA Handicap System. Players can only register online (www.nysga.org). Call the NYSGA offices with any questions at (315) 471-1372.
NYSGA PRESS RELEASE
For the first time in 50 years, the New York State Men’s Amateur Championship is headed back to Long Island. The world-renowned Bethpage State Park Black Course will host this year’s championship from August 8-10.
It will be the 95th edition of the venerable amateur golf championship which has recently been held at a few noteworthy upstate courses including Schenectady’s Mohawk Golf Club in 2016, Kaluhyat Golf Club at Turning Stone Resort in 2015, and Syracuse’s Bellevue Country Club in 2014. This will be the first time the Men’s Amateur will make its way to Bethpage since the tournament’s humble beginnings in 1923.
“It’s been a goal of mine since I started at the NYSGA to bring the Men’s Amateur back to Long Island and find a course that would generate a high level of excitement,” said Andrew Hickey, Assistant Executive Director of the NYSGA. “This will be an incredible championship not only because of the venue, Bethpage Black, but also because of our partnership with the management team at the Bethpage State Park.”
Each year, hundreds of amateur male golfers attempt to qualify for the championship. After the process of holding a dozen sectional qualifiers throughout the early summer and exempting a small group of qualified individuals, the field is eventually narrowed to 156 players. The tournament format is 72 holes of stroke play throughout three days, with 36 holes on the final day of competition.
The last time this championship was held in Long Island was in 1967 at Nassau Country Club, won by local and distinguished amateur golfer John Baldwin. Over the years, quite a few other prominent Long Island amateur golfers have claimed the title when the tournament was held in the region. This year’s championship will present a great opportunity for the many talented amateur golfers in New York’s Metropolitan area to compete on an impressive, close-to-home venue.
Entries are still open to male amateur golfers who are members of the NYSGA with an up-to-date Handicap Index not exceeding 7.4, issued by a golf club which is licensed to use the USGA Handicap System. All players must submit their entry prior to the New York State Golf Association tournament’s entry deadline on Friday, June 16, 2017. Players may register online through the NYSGA website (www.nysga.org). Entries submitted via mail, email or fax will not be accepted. Please call the NYSGA offices with any questions at (315) 471-1372.
Photo: PGA of America
About Bethpage State Park’s Black Course: A.W. Tillinghast’s legendary design boasts a tough, 7,465-yard track compete with tight fairways, high rough, well-placed bunkers and small, fast greens. It is the most difficult of the five park courses and known as one of the longer and more challenging courses in the country. In recent years, it has become a popular choice among many of the most acclaimed professional golf tournaments around. The trend began in 2002 when the USGA hosted the first US Open on a public venue (won by Tiger Woods) and then returned for a second time in 2009 (won by Lucas Glover). The Barclays was played there in 2012, 2016 and is set to continue its streak on the site in 2021 and 2027. In 2019, the course will host the PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup in 2024, both for the first time.
The Ganson Depew cup goes to the New York State Amateur Champion
NYS Men’s Amateur Championships in Long Island: The inaugural NYS Men’s Amateur Championship took place in Long Island area when Garden City Golf Club volunteered to host the event almost a century ago. On October 24, 1923, sixty-one competitors teed off for a chance to be the first name etched onto the prestigious Ganson Depew Cup, that now proudly displays 94 New York state men’s amateur champions. The eventual winner of that first championship, in a match play format, was Edmund Driggs. Jr. Over the 95-year history, the NYS Men’s Amateur Championship has been held in Long Island on five occasions including Garden City CC in ’23 and ‘33, Lido CC in ‘25, Lakeville CC in 30’, Siwanoy CC in ‘39 and Nassau CC in ’67.
About the New York State Golf Association:
The NYSGA is an Association of Member Clubs, represented by over 130 Committee Members, that exists with the purpose of promoting and conserving the traditions of golf throughout New York State. Each year since its founding in 1923, the NYSGA has conducted The State Amateur Championships. The eleven current state championships, for all genders and ages, are played on the courses of NYSGA Member Clubs. Additionally, the NYSGA conducts various USGA sectional qualifiers and the annual Amateur Series consisting of over 35 handicapped tournaments between May and October. The NYSGA also provides club services such as The GHIN Handicap System, Course Rating & Measuring, Rules Education, and finally, the NYSGA Scholarship Program has aided hundreds of worthy students over the years to offset costs associated with higher education. Stay up-to-date with the NYSGA by following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.