Klein on Design: No. 18 at Bethpage

Lucas Glover plays his tee shot on the 18th hole during the 2009 U.S. Open.
Lucas Glover plays his tee shot on the 18th hole during the 2009 U.S. Open. ( Getty Images )

Monday, June 22, 2009

Yards: 411

Architect: A.W. Tillinghast; Rees Jones (2000)

Where: Farmingdale, N.Y.

Event: U.S. Open, June 18-21

It’s great because . . . it’s much better for the average player hitting driver from the middle tees than for the U.S. Open golfer laying up from the back. From a dramatically perched tee, the hole plays to a bellowed fairway that’s littered with bunkers on both sides. The approach plays to an elevated green set in front of the clubhouse. It all makes for great visuals and a demanding tee shot that has to thread the deep sand and thick rough.

It would be even better if . . . this wonderful stage didn’t produce disappointing theater. Rees Jones’ reworking of A.W. Tillinghast’s original design effectively takes driver out of the equation for long hitters. There’s little reward for hitting a bold drive because the carry past the narrow neck of the fairway is 315 yards from the back tee. That means everyone lays up to the 37-yard-wide fairway short, leaving a 175-yard approach. That’s a bit of a letdown for the 18th hole of a U.S. Open. The last array of bunkering should be removed, giving strong hitters reason to consider hitting driver, because they’d obviously prefer hitting wedge in rather than a 7-iron – provided the risk/reward ratio is more balanced.

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