Anytime you hand pro golfers five par-5 holes in a round, they’re likely to make a ton of birdies. Add the drama of team match-play competition, then flip the order of nines so that the course winds up on a famous, reachable par 5 with water, and – presto! – you have the makings of a thrilling event. In this case, it’s the seventh Solheim Cup, a biennial event pitting 12-player teams from Europe and the United States Sept. 20-22.
The setting is storied old Interlachen Country Club, 16 miles southwest of downtown Minneapolis. Interlachen dates to a 1911 layout by Willie Watson that was thoroughly transformed into its current guise by Donald Ross in 1919. Bobby Jones made headlines there in 1930 when he won the U.S. Open, the third leg of his Grand Slam.
The course subsequently hosted the 1935 U.S. Women’s Amateur (won by Glenna Collett Vare), the 1986 USGA Senior Amateur (won by R.S. “Bo” Williams) and the 1993 Walker Cup (United States over Great Britain & Ireland, 19-5).
Interlachen, also slated for the 2008 U.S. Women’s Open, is ranked No. 50 on Golfweek’s America’s Best classical courses list ...
What’s the longest course ever to host a U.S. Open?
What’s the first daily-fee facility ever to hold the event?
What’s the first U.S. Open venue with a warning sign on the first tee?
The answer to all three questions is . . . Bethpage State Park’s Black Course in Farmingdale, N.Y., 25 miles east of midtown Manhattan. The par-70 layout measures at 7,214 yards.
Public golfers line up the night before to pay $31 green fees. And when they reach the first tee, a sign greets them: “WARNING: The Black Course is an extremely difficult course which we recommend only for highly skilled golfers.”
The Black Course – ranked No. 26 in Golfweek’s America’s Best Classical Course list – is the best-known of a five-course state facility that annually plays host to 280,000 rounds. It opened in 1936, designed by A.W. Tillinghast in conjunction with longtime park superintendent Joseph H. Burbeck. It quickly gained a reputation for being the toughest course on Long Island.
Even as course conditioning and maintenance lagged, the basic design of the holes shined through. In August 1997, the course closed for 11 months while architect ...