Local players talk about Bethpage Black

1 of 5 Jim Krajicek
Public Property Nobody knows the Black Course like its devoted regulars. We asked several longtime locals what makes the toughest holes on this magnificent muni so menacing. Interviews by Connell Barrett and Joe Passov 4th Par-5, 517 yards Regular: Jon Silverberg, 61, broker Handicap: 11 Rounds at the Black: 500 "It's pretty much a blind second shot because you're hitting over the huge diagonal glacial bunker that runs left to right across and up the fairway. The hole is not particularly long for a par-5, but it's also not a high percentage play to go for it in two because you have deep bunkers short and left, and where there's no sand, there's four-inch rough. Over the green is a four- or five-foot drop to a chipping area. Below that is death." LOCAL COLOR "Getting on the Black is about working the phones. I kept calling one day during a relative's funeral, may she rest in peace. It's what she would have wanted." — Paul Ziomber, 38, police officer
2 of 5 Evan Schiller
5th Par-4, 478 yards Regular: Ray Corrigan, 58, elevator company salesman Handicap: 4.3 Rounds at the Black: 300 "Drive it too far left over the cross bunker and trees block your angle to the green. The approach is tough because the green is elevated some 20 to 30 feet and surrounded by bunkers. You can see the flag, but not the green." LOCAL COLOR "There are no carts on the Black, so your calves are burning. I love playing with first-timers. I tell them on the first tee: 'This course will bore you a new orifice.' " — Charles Cordova, 41, lawyer
3 of 5 John Mummert/USGA
10th Par-4, 508 yards Regular: Bill Schwefel, 47, trader Handicap: 4 Rounds at the Black: 300 "It's a beautiful hole because it's the first one that veers away from parkland into more of a links-style course. You have dunes on the left and trees framing the hole on the right. The key is keeping your tee shot out of the high grass. If you drive it in the rough, just bang it out with a wedge. You see golfers trying all these heroic shots. That's when it gets out of control. One cold day in April I hit a 3-iron out of a bunker here. I split my Noodle in half." LOCAL COLOR "You used to know everyone's name. You walked the corridors and heard your spikes hit the stones on the clubhouse floor. Now it's all fancy. That's the price of fame." — Ernie Bodo, 62, carpenter
4 of 5 John Mummert/USGA
12th Par-4, 504 yards Regular: David Prowler, 50, dry cleaner Handicap: Between scratch and 1 Rounds at the Black: 200 "The tee shot is just brutal. Most of the pros will try to fly the fairway bunker on the left, but if they don't carry the bunker, it's deep enough that they'll probably have to lay up. They've removed the unfair rough between that bunker and the fairway that was there in 2002. It's all fairway now. Play it safe to the right of the bunker, and it's 230 to 250 left to the green. In that case, the hole plays more like a birdieable par-5." LOCAL COLOR "In '02, the country got to see a course we love and know so well. And the pros, they maybe thought, 'It's a muni — how tough could it be?' They found out." — Ed Piechocki, 67, retired highway dept. worker
5 of 5 John Mummert/USGA
15th Par-4, 459 yards Regular: Len Mulqueen, 66, metal fabricator Handicap: 10 Rounds at the Black: 150 "What makes this hole difficult is the second shot. It's long and all carry, and you're walking up some 60 feet to get to the green. There's a reason they call it 'Heart Attack Hill.' If you're in the front bunker, it's probably 8 to 10 feet in elevation just to clear the lip." LOCAL COLOR "Everyone is equal here. It's democratic. Guys from Shinnecock and Winged Foot sleep in their cars to play. The walls come down. Isn't that what America is about?" — Charles Cordova