At the P.G.A., Bethpage Black Has Everything Except Much Water

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The pond was strategically placed in the original Depression-era design of the course by the golf architect A.W. Tillinghast, who used the only significant water from the property to create the long, forced carry from tee to green. It was a challenging shot, one that made it much more daunting when the flagstick was placed in front of the green about 10 meters from the pond.

"People love par-3 water holes," Jones said. "There is the challenge. There is the visual. The whole hole is ahead of you. It is a defining setting in golf."

But over several decades of play, including tens of thousands of rounds by recreational golfers, many of the distinctive features of the Tillinghast layout are veiled by overgrowth or erosion. The eighth green, for example, shrank dramatically, and a receding green meant that the incriminating location at the water's edge was no longer an option.

But in the 1990s in an inspiring nod to the daily golfer, the revered United States Golf Association decided to bring the featured event, the United States Open, to that bastion of the weekend blower: the muni, a term for a public course that is owned by a city, province or state where golfers change their shoes in the parking lot and the door is open to everyone.

It was a noble experiment, but the Black Course, where some fairways were no more than random grassy areas, was desperately needed to redecorate. The many years of restoration that Jones remembered began in 1997.

As far as the eighth hole was concerned, the first thing Jones outlined for his renovation was not so much a revision as a repair – he would extend the green back to the water. Today it is again ten paces from the famous pond of the cave.

Jones also built a new raised tee and added a plateau – "a terrace", he called it – to the back of the green. When the flagstick is on that extra layer, the hole may require a considerably longer tee-shot and one-to-two clubs play longer than when the pin is near the pond. Jones also re-contoured the bench in front of the green to make it steeper.

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