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Carl Rogers

I think that Tillinghast had a reputation for doing great par threes.  From my detached view point the 3rd and 10th at Winged Foot West are world class inland par 3 holes.  Are any of the Bethpage black one shotters as good?
« Last Edit: May 14, 2009, 08:34:27 PM by Carl Rogers »

Anthony Butler

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Specifically on the 10th at Winged Foot. It's a great hole but due to the increased length of iron shots amongst the pros, the hole does not present the challenge it once did.

In the '97 PGA, Davis Love played two phenomenal shots on the 10th with a 5iron on Sat/Sun. Saturday he hit a shot with about 2 yard fade which sat down right next to the pin on the front. Next day he used the same club back in his stance and the ball landed in the same spot and ran up the green right to left towards the pin which was tucked behind the bunker on the left. Just two shots from what was the most impressive exhibition of ball striking I've ever witnessed.

At the '06 Open with the Pro V1 as opposed to the Titleist Professional, it looked like a hard 7 if the pin was on the back and an perhaps an 8 iron to a front pin location. Quite a change from Ben Hogan's '3 iron into some guys bedroom'.



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The par-3's at Winged Foot West are certainly HARDER.  In addition to the two you mentioned, #13 is very difficult. 

The par-3's at Bethpage Black are more visually interesting and varied, thanks to topography on #8 and #14.

The better set?  I guess it depends on what you are looking for in a course, but I would give the slight nod to Winged Foot's short holes.  The third at Bethpage is really the only mediocre hole among the eight.


I think it's a good/valid question, but, from what tees ?

And, how would those not having played from the back tees be qualified to answer the question ?

As an addendum to your question, are the par 3's at Winged Foot East better than the West and BPB ?


As partial answer to Pat, the par-thress on the Black are decidedly more variable in both distance and angles than the West. Consider the 14th hole. The tee box is HUGE and very wide. With the new front left tongue the hole can play as short as 130-yards to as long as nearly 190 yards by placing the tees back left and the hole back right. I think everyone is going to be pleasantly surprised as to how this hole plays. By far the easiest in 2002 it will not be now.

Tom, I disagree with your assessment of the third hole, especially with the new back tee. Here again is a large green that runs long and angular to a series of tees that increase their own angles toward the green. It is hole where the smart player learns to play for areas rather hole locations as just a bit of miscalculation can get you into serious trouble short & in bunkers or just long and over the green and downhill.

I think the weakest of the par-threes on the Black is the one that is near unanimously loved by all... the 17th. I'm sure that will surprise many, but it really isn't a difficult hole. The modern golfer, especially the professional, has more problems in accuracy rather than distance. With the green as wide as it is, an accurate shot distance-wise that is straight will always find the putting surface where very few three-putts will happen.

The 8th hole will also be viewed in a new light this year. With plans to vary the tees and with the front putting surface now recovered, the pond is now DEFINITELY in play as will be the back bunker when the hole is back there.

I am also of the opinion that the 10th hole on Winged Foot West is the finest par-three that Tilly designed and is amazing in its subtleties. With a slower green speed for the 2006 Open the USGA was able to use back hole locations, especially the killer one back left. It is a glorious hole!

I believe the two sets offer very different challenges and varieties and that, as sets, they are equal...


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How long is the third at Bethpage now?



From the far back of the new back tee to the furthest spot on the back left side it could be stretched to nearly 250 yards. I believe the USGA plans to play it as short as 210 to as far as 230+ yards for the Open.

Each tee box is not only further from the green but steps back left as well. The back tees almost bring the tree line in front of the tee into play for a far back-left hole location.

Mike Davis wants to challenge the players by bringing the full-course into play on a hole-by-hole basis. Some days there will be up tees and holes others back ones. Mixing and matching will bring a consistent overall course distance but hole-by-hole there will be some pretty good changes. For example, the 8th hole will see a forward tee on one of the lower ones when the hole is cut into the very front of the green and an upper tee when it is cut far back right. The distances may be so dramatically different as to present very different holes to the players. This Open will definitely be one by a very adaptable and thinking player rather than someone who devises a plan that they will stick to.

Sam Maryland


From the far back of the new back tee to the furthest spot on the back left side it could be stretched to nearly 250 yards. I believe the USGA plans to play it as short as 210 to as far as 230+ yards for the Open.

This hole can really be a bitch from 150yds, I can't imagine having to play it at 210yds much less 230.  Bunkers short aren't a big deal but long is brutal, and depending on the angle keeping it on this green from those distances will be very tough.  Not that I think guys will flip it back into the bunkers on the other side but I def think a bunch will hit it across the green into the rough (assuming they go long that is).

Robert Mercer Deruntz

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   You must have never played the 17th under normal Black conditions, much less tournament conditions.  The 17th is very far away from being somewhat easy.  Not to be boastful, I can strike the ball with most of the guys playing Bethpage next month and always approach the 17th carefully in the NY Open.  The NY Open is usually both won and lost on the 17th.  There is usually a tricky left to right wind or vice versa and the green's elevated position combined with serious firmness makes it very difficult to hold a mid to long iron.  The only guys who held the front left pin last year landed in the rough or fringe, everyone else was chipping or pitching back 60 feet to the pin.
   The 14th may have variety in distances, but has been ruined by Reese.  The Back shelf is an ugly ill fiting addtion.  The left bunker is a stupid framing feature that might offer some form of penalty to a wayward ball, but I highly doubt it can match the rough Craig is capable of growing.  The falloff behind the green is so severe with unbelievably brutal rough now--I was not the only player to almost make a hole in one and walk away with an other instead last year.  Tilly did not design features that created such extreme penalties for misses of less than literally 3 feet.
   As for the 8th, it is an awesome hole.  The left framing bunker has dimiinished the aestheitics of the hole, but the green expansion with the elasticity makes it one of the best par 3's to be found.  There are some really great pins in the middle right that were not used in the last US Open, but have always created interesting results because of balls hung up on the hillside.  This rough is perfect because some balls bounce all the way out close, some end up with completely unplayable lies, and some end up with very possible up and down opportunities.



Understand that by no way am I saying that it is easy, but that its challenges are not as great as those presented by the other threes. I also said that this view would surprise many.

For me a great deal has to do with the mental approach to how the Black should be played. You said, "The only guys who held the front left pin last year landed in the rough or fringe, everyone else was chipping or pitching back 60 feet to the pin." I would NEVER go at a left hole location, rather playing it to the center of the green and being very happy with a 25-30 foot 2-putt. It is because of the width of the green that one is able to do this. Try getting a front hole position directly behind the bunker close... near impossible to do so, but again, dead center and one faces a makeable 25-30 foot putt.

You can't play 3, 8 & 14 that way.

Actually, that is why the front right side of the green needs to be restored. It used to be much larger and served as a true second side. It provided some really challenging hole locations and forced players to be exact in shot placement as the only safe bailout location was up on the larger normal green tier.

By the way, I have about 400 rounds on the Black going back to my first one in 1967 in every possible condition including tournaments.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2009, 07:26:17 AM by Philip Young »


Philip Young,

Aren''t WFW's putting surfaces far more complex, putting a premium on putting, recovery and the approach.

Aren't BPB's more like Baltusrol's Lower ?

Does distance or increased length equate with quality or difficulty ?

Analyzing and comparing holes from tees that only the best golfers in the world can handle doesn't seem like a valid exercise when evaluating the entirety of a golf hole
« Last Edit: May 15, 2009, 08:19:28 AM by Patrick_Mucci »

Steve Kupfer

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I think the the Third at BB is very representative of the course in general (with exceptions, of course)--the difficulty is GIR, where surfaces are in large part relatively flat, particularly compared to WFW. There is no abundance of 6 foot sliders at the Black. The challenge in getting to the third from the reported 232 yards is the lack of depth.  If that yardage stands up, then a back left placement on Sunday will be fun to watch, albeit only the third hole of the day. Has anyone played it recently to assess how penal the rough will be immediately behind the left side of the green?


Just a few thoughts ...

The 17th at BB is vastly underrated by a great many people. Agree with those who have stated the case. When the pin is flush left or even right it's not e-z to get anywhere near the pin. You also have the elevated nature of the left fronting bunkers which will claim any shot not fully executed.

WFW's 10th is superb hole but I agree w Anthony -- it loses it's luster somewhat because of today's technology with improved clubs and balls. Hitting a Hogan 3-iron is one thing -- but today it's no more than a mid-iron at best.

I also see BB's 3rd as just a long hole with little flavor. I give points to how the green is angled and frankly I think the hole would play much better with a shorter distance than the inane search for more and more length in stretching it to a max of 230 yards.

The 8th at BB is a solid hole -- likely made even better by Rees expanding the rear portion of the green along with the backside bunker that's there now. I see the 14th as a so-so hole -- the 7th at WFW, a hole of comparable length, is a better design.

Overall, for me, WFW gets the clear nod in terms of overall consistency -- but BB's 8th and 17th are both well done holes.


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