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South Williamsport, PA
United States

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The Return to Black

A happy belated Mother’s Day to all of you moms. My lovely childbearing parent flew in from California to celebrate. It turned out to be a splendid weekend, but GG had a few issues with her inbound connection. We ended up driving to Wilkes-Barre just to save her, and that is why I missed my

A happy belated Mother’s Day to all of you moms. My lovely childbearing parent flew in from California to celebrate. It turned out to be a splendid weekend, but GG had a few issues with her inbound connection. We ended up driving to Wilkes-Barre just to save her, and that is why I missed my deadline. True story. I have documentation.

I’m amazed at the number of yard signs and billboards for this primary. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a beautiful thing, but I can’t believe the amount of cash everyone spends on a local election. Throw in the plethora of print and radio ads, and these figures are absolutely stunning. Big business just for a few votes in Lycoming County. Campaign finances and advertisements are a big deal, but they should never determine the outcome. Do some research and vote for the best candidate this fall. Don’t go with the ones who have the biggest wallets. Donald Trump came to Williamsport? Say what? This is amazing.

As of this writing, the 2019 PGA Championship is underway, and the world’s greatest are battling it out at Bethpage. This incredible public golf facility in the middle of Long Island, NY provided the backdrop for this year’s second major tournament. The Black Course at Bethpage is an awesome track, and AW Tillinghast designed it. The same dude who created WCC and Eagles Mere. It is totally open to the public, and many of us golf nuts have spent the night in the car hoping to land a tee time. The Black is by far the toughest and most famous of the five courses. There is a sign that reads, “The Black Course is Extremely Difficult Which We Recommend Only For Highly Skilled Golfers,” next to the first tee box. Raincheck?

The Black Course became the very first PUBLICLY owned and operated golf course to host a major championship. Sure. They have played at other ‘public’ sites like Pebble Beach or Whistling Straits, but these cost an arm and a leg and are mainly resort courses. Bethpage is different. It’s truly something FORE everyone, and it is rather inexpensive.

Tiger Woods won the 2002 US OPEN. He was the only golfer to break par in what many still consider the most exciting and challenging tournament ever. The USGA shattered attendance records and created one of the loudest atmospheres in all of sports. Trust me. I was there. It was more like a rock concert than a major golf championship. It was immediately dubbed as the PEOPLE’S OPEN and a huge win for the USGA. The golf industry was booming, and there wasn’t a need for Billy.

The US OPEN returned to Bethpage in 2009. Lucas Glover won the tournament, and it wasn’t the same without a big name. Both Tiger and Phil Mickelson struggled, but the massive crowds continued to cheer. The Black Course also hosted two Fed Ex Cup Barclays in 2012 and 2016. The 2019 PGA Championship was Bethpage’s third major championship. Awfully impressive for a 90 hole public golf facility

This magnificent venue and I have an interesting relationship. My first job out of college was with the United States Golf Association. I was actually stationed at Bethpage gearing up for the 2002 US Open. Yes. I got to meet several big names, but most of my time on Long Island was a blur. I was on the USGA Operations Team, and we were responsible for everything outside of the golf. Parking, logistics, fencing, signage, and security. It was the year after 9/11, and it was complete madness. Somehow we pulled it off.

I did get to golf the Black Course a handful of times. My friends and I played for tips once, and that was a huge mistake. The Black is a monster, and it definitely lives up to the hype. Routinely tackling 460-yard par 4s in the wind isn’t a blast. I holed out my second shot from the fairway on the difficult 15th. It’s a very challenging uphill dogleg and finding my ball in the cup was one of my most memorable experiences in golf. It was definitely a five iron, but I don’t remember the exact yardage. Ask me again in a couple of years.

I really enjoy watching the pros playing courses that I know. It puts things into perspective, and you quickly realize how talented they are. The folks at Bethpage aren’t your typical fans. They are obnoxiously loud and dressed like average Joes. I will say that the 15th hole played the most difficult in round one. It only gave up four birdies. And no one holed out from the fairway for an eagle 2. Cheers.

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