Before Bethpage Black shut down for the U.S. Open, public golfers were waiting up to three days in the parking lot for early-bird tee times. This week, the course is a bit busy. But when the Black reopens for public play, here are three ways to hit the jackpot without turning your Mazda 626 into a Motel 6.
PHONE A FRIEND
Bethpage uses an automated tee-time reservation system (516-249-0707; registration required). New York State residents can reserve times up to seven days in advance; out-of-staters have a two-day window. "It's a huge advantage to know someone from New York [state]," says Paul Ziomber, 38, a Long Island cop who has nabbed over 1,000 Bethpage Black tee times. Only one person in your group has to be from the Empire State, "so if your best friend from kindergarten lives in Queens, have him call!"
When calling, persistence is key. New tee times, released daily at 7pm, vanish in minutes. "Most guys give up by 7:15, but the trick is to call and call, looking for cancellations," Ziomber says. "I call on my lunch break, at midnight, when I wake up at 2am to pee. My wife thinks I'm having an affair. I once called during a relative's funeral! But it's worth it. It's the Black!"
Ziomber adds, "If you get a fast-sounding busy signal beepbeepbeep! try later. If it's a slower signal beeep... beeep... beeep you're almost through. Keep dialing." Thank you, phone whisperer.
No long-distance love? Weekdays are best for walk-ons, Ziomber says. "You will get out as a single. Twosomes have a 50-50 shot. A foursome? About 10 percent. People cancel or run late, and there you are, like a vulture!" Arrive early and check the TV monitor that shows the next open time. "It might be at 3pm, which is a long wait, but at minimum you can grab that. Keep watching the screen a prime slot might cancel, and it's yours." But forget weekends and Jewish holidays. "Too busy. No chance. Mayor Bloomberg isn't getting out."
For more insider tee-time tips from Ziomber or to hire him as your Bethpage Black caddie email him at Zsquad523@aol.com.
For a cool $500 per person, NYGolfShuttle.com promises to secure your tee time and provide round-trip transport (assuming a Manhattan pickup). Owner Phil Betito, 50, works the phones so you don't have to, and charges a pretty penny to boot. "Hey, people pay the same for Pebble Beach," Betito says. "With us, you can play a U.S. Open course and travel in style." And by "style" he means "a minivan."
(Note: Bethpage is not affiliated with this or any outside tee-time service, a course spokesperson says.)
$500 per person (includes greens fee and round-trip transport from Manhattan); NYGolfShuttle.com, 800-679-7011
Bethpage State Park
Bethpage Black will be closed through June 27 for the U.S. Open. Regular summer tee times (approx. 6am/5pm) resume on that date.
New York State residents, $50 weekdays, $60 weekends; out-of-state residents, $100 weekdays, $120 weekends.
Bethpage Black is closed Mondays