It’s about the length of two football fields, but for the world’s best golfers, it is 200 yards that can crush the dreams of winning a prestigious golf tournament, or propel a player into glory with an accurate tee shot and a well-executed putt. It’s the 17th hole of the Bethpage Black, where the Barclays Golf Tournament is being held this week.
The 17th hole is considered to be a signature hole of the course. During the 2002 and 2009 U.S. Open Championships, which were held at Bethpage Black, a loud and enthusiastic crowd helped to put a New York stamp on those tournaments. Barclays tournament directors are hoping for that same excitement as players arrive at the challenging hole.
“17 here is a great par 3 as you come toward the end,” said Peter Mele, executive director of the Barclays Tournament. “It’ll be a raucous atmosphere. It’s a birdie hole, but there’s a lot of trouble to watch out for.”
The hole features a green that is surrounded by deep sand traps on all sides and extremely thick rough leading to it. For professional golfers, it is not an extremely difficult shot, but the slightest mistake can ruin a golfer’s score. And for average golfers, the hole can be quite an adventure.
“Can you imagine trying to get out of this rough?” Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano remarked to New York State Senator Kemp Hannon, as the two elected officials led the media on a behind the scenes tour of the course.
Mangano and Hannon were at Bethpage to speak about the benefits the golf tournament will bring to Nassau County. The county executive said that the Barclays Tournament showcases the great sports and entertainment venues Nassau County has. He added that it is bringing jobs and opportunities to the county as well as creating revenue, all while having an event that is enjoyable for residents.
“This is a great public course with access to all our residents who will be able to enjoy the world’s best golfers, up front and close, right here in Bethpage,” said Mangano. “What a wonderful time it will be.”
Hannon added that the tournament would bring in tourism and cash to the local economy. He also said that the structure of this tournament, in which only 125 players are invited to compete, is appropriate for a New York sporting event. Players earn points during the golf season, and only those who are in the top 125 are invited to participate in this tournament.
“In New York, we’re really used to champions,” said Hannon. “This is really in keeping with that because the best golfers in the world are playing here in one of the best tournaments in the world.”
According to Mele, all net proceeds from the tournament go to local charities. He said he hopes that they will exceed last year’s total, which was $1,250,000. According to Brian Nevin, communications director for the county executive, among the charities that will benefit are Island Harvest, United Way, American Heart Association, and the Boys Club Hicksville Region. For more information, visit www.barclaysgolf.com.