Hooray for the sun! Finally the sun has come out and golf can resume. The crowd was enormous – some say around 50,000 spectators – and they were quite vocal and very appreciative of the players. I took the local shuttle from downtown Bethpage and within fifteen minutes I was there. My plan was to walk all the holes of the course – and I did – my feet are a little sore, my sneakers quite muddy, but it was great! I remember the holes when I played there years ago before it became a US Open site — and let me tell you – it is tiring! For the golfing public, you may take a golf cart on the other four courses. But if you want to play the Black, you must walk. It is a walk up and down hills, and these guys trying to get in as many holes as they can today is a test of stamina and endurance. A little side story – for those of you who happen to be here in the wintertime – the first tees of the Green and Black Courses are the prime places to go sleighriding……….. It was still very muddy along the spectator paths and the crosswalks across the fairways – you can see the brown color on the TV picture – and it was worse than what it looked like on TV. My plan was to walk all 18 holes, so when I arrived I immediately crossed the street to the 2nd hole, and walked from there. One of the first groups I came upon was Fred Funk, Stuart Appleby, and Todd Hamilton. The crowd clapped politely for Appleby and Hamilton, but they went nuts for Fred. Every shot he hit, they cheered, and he acknowledged them with a smile and a wave. I made my way up to the par 3 8th hole – the one with the water in the front — and that is where I caught up with Anthony Kim, Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson. What a head of hair Rory has – you know it is him from a mile away. Phil Mickelson played with Ernie Els and Retief Goosen – that grouping had a few extra State Troopers… Followed Phil and his group for a couple of holes – then continued onward in my quest to walk all 18…. One funny story was when Phil was putting for birdie on the par 3 8th, some guy yelled from the crowd “Phil….aim 3 balls to the right!” Only at Bethpage can you get spectators that play the course and can say they had that same putt that Phil had. I made my way back across the street to the 15th, aka the “corral hole”. It is called that because many years ago there was a little corral with horses living there…. you can still smell the horses in the area, as the Bethpage Riding Academy is just down the street…. Also, years ago when you played the 15th — it is a long uphill hole– after you played and walked through the woods to the 16th, there was always an older gentleman there selling golf balls. He had a very nice selection — but I never bought any! Made my way back up to the 18th green and watched some players, then walked over to the practice putting green and watched Padraig Harrington. He is a big guy! I never would have thought that. On TV, he looked like your average size player — but up close Padraig is built like quarterback.. I went to the practice range (the Yellow Course), and watched Stuart Cink, Billy Mayfair, and some others. What I would love for golfers to do – and I recommend it to my students – is go to the range and watch them practice! They have such nice, balanced, effortless looking swings that I think people are expecting them to swing out of their shoes. Most are very surprised how nice and smooth they are — so everyone – please work on your balance! Obviously they work out and are very strong — but if you work on your flexibility and strength and work on your balance – you will be very happy with your golf game. Overall, it was a very pleasant day. I was quite tired when I arrived at my sister’s house this evening — but it was worth it. I will be back tomorrow. I am praying for some halfway decent weather because the forecast does not look promising……..
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