Inside the Ropes at Bethpage Black
Tiger Woods has called the U.S. Open "the most difficult national championship." With Open, John Feinstein goes behind the scenes to tell for the first time the full story of how the 2002 U.S. Open Championship came into being-how a public course was transformed into one of the most difficult and surprising in the tournament's history, and how the greatest golfers in the world rose to its almost insurmountable challenges.
The Black course at the public golf club in Bethpage, New York, has long had a mythic status among golfers. Designed by legendary course architect A. W. Tillinghast in 1936, it is known as a work of genius-with long fairways, gorgeous vistas, and roughs and bunkers that stymie all but the very best golfers. It is a course where any player can compete, but its cult reputation means that golfers often have to camp overnight in the parking lot to get a tee time the next day. The 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black was the first time in history that golf's greatest championship had been held at a true public course. Open is the full drama of that championship, from the moment that officials first considered holding it there until the last putt rolled in at dusk on Sunday. Along the way, John Feinstein reveals the full glory of golf as it's never been explored before. He digs deep to find out what it really takes to make golf's most famous event worthy of the champions who compete in it. He tells the remarkable story of the artisans who transformed the Black from a downtrodden and rough-around-the-edges public course to one that top pros hailed as "unbelievable" and "the toughest par-70 I've ever played in my life." He also tracks the drama of the masters who battled for supremacy at the Black-Tiger Woods, Sergio Garcia, Nick Faldo, Phil Mickelson, Jeff Maggert-to show how true champions respond to the toughest conditions.
Open is the story of people who devote their entire lives to golf, both behind the scenes and inside the ropes. Their struggles and exhilarations as they master the monster known as Bethpage Black make for a story every golf lover will want to read again and again.
Feinstein (A Good Walk Spoiled) chronicles the years spent renovating "chewed-up" Bethpage (N.Y.) Black for the first-ever U.S. Open held on a municipal course and the biggest ever net profit, at $13 million. Many of the behind-the-scenes people he describes (such as former U.S.G.A. president David Fay), though colorful and colorfully drawn don't quite pull readers into the 2002 event. Feinstein swings for significance, too, complete with references to September 11, which seldom land near the flag of portent. But unlike his earlier golf bestseller, crossover appeal fades fast. His account is impeccably researched and written with you-are-there clarity, yet the buildup stretches over three-quarters of the text, leaving the best for last but not rewarding readers' patience. Successive chapters "Countdown," "Last Rehearsal," "Final Preparations," "D-Day" keep putting off the moment until late in the book when Feinstein writes, "It was time to start playing golf." The skirmishes over which network gets broadcast rights or how 42,000 spectators can be accommodated just don't excite the way a neck-and-neck round does. With so many anecdotes devoted to politics and economics, even devotees may skip ahead to the later chapters centering on Tiger Woods, as the narrative fails to generate much game of its own.
I grew up in the shadow of Bethpage Park. I played there. I caddied there. And, l learned the game of golf there. There were many times, while reading this book,that the hair on the back of my neck stood straight recalling memories from my years (60 years) at Bethpage. I knew, many times, what the author was saying. Bottom line? I know I speak for all the people and friends who also have fond memories of Bethpage and the "Black" in particular, when I sat "thank you Mr. Feinstein for taking me back to my youth through the pages and chapters of your book. I could not put it down".
For any golfer who has watched an open on tv or been to one in person this is a must read. A true behind the scenes look at what it takes to pull it all off. A very easy written very well. You will not be disappointed.
Just like all of his books
An excellent read for true fans.