PGA Championship Prep Tees Off

The PGA Championship comes to Bethpage State Park next year.

For the first time in its century-long history, the PGA Championship will be coming to Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale. The tournament, which is among the four golf majors in the professional circuit, will make Long Island the center of the golf world’s attention from May 16-19, 2019. On July 12, the officials in charge of getting the course ready held a ribbon cutting for their new headquarters: a trailer in the middle of a parking lot.

“We’re excited to bring the PGA Championship to you, Bethpage, Nassau County, and the state of New York,” said tournament director Scott Reid during the ribbon cutting. “This is such a storied location for the PGA.”

Bethpage Black, the hardest of the five Bethpage State Park courses, has been home to a few PGA events in its history, having hosted U.S. Open tournaments in 2002 and 2009. Most recently, the course was home to The Barclays in 2012 and 2016 as part of the FedEx playoffs. Beyond its history of hosting tournaments, Reid found it important to bring the championship home to the state where the PGA Of America was first formed.

“We have a great history with the state of New York,” said Reid. “Our organization was founded in New York City. The very first PGA Championship was in New York. We got a lot of people that speak very highly of Bethpage so it was a natural to look at coming here.”

While getting the course ready for the third weekend of May is a top priority right now, public concerns over the traffic on the island will be among the top concerns when the event begins.

“We are very fortunate to have a partner in the state of New York,” said Reid. “Right off the bat, we have access to Jones Beach for our general public parking. We’ll park everyone at Jones Beach and bring them in by shuttle. It’s a short ride, but it’ll help alleviate a lot of the congestion in this area. We’re also working with the Long Island Rail Road to promote using the train service to come out here. We will set up at Farmingdale train station so you can take the train, get off, and bring you over.”

The championship will also be working with law enforcement and various transportation agencies to make sure everyone gets to the tournament quickly and safely, while also trying to be courteous to those on the Island trying to move around the massive event.

“We will do everything we can leading up to those critical months to make sure we convey the messages about what we are doing to help with the transportation,” said Reid.

As for how they are preparing for the weather now that the tournament is moving to May for the first time since 1949, Reid said that they are hoping the weather in March as they build the foundation won’t be as bad as last year.

“I think we feel very good about May itself as it relates to what the weather should be like for the actual championship,” said Reid. “Certainly, we got some potential challenges leading up to the championship because we’ll start building all the infrastructure starting March 1. At the end of the day, we are going to get it done. The great thing about Bethpage Black is that it’s kept in top condition all year round.”

Charles Robson, the General Chair of the 2019 tournament and Garden City resident, noted that the location is the perfect location for player development and giving the PGA a platform to promote itself.

“It’s a great championship test in terms of the playability. The players have amazing respect for it,” he said. “It’s large so it allows for a lot of people to come, watch, and be part of the championship. You got a couple hundred thousand golfers a year that come to Bethpage who will be able to identify with the PGA Championship. It promotes not only the game but the local economy.”

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran talked extensively at the ribbon cutting about how Long Island will benefit from hosting the event, especially economically.

“It’s expected that 1,800 temporary full-time and part-time jobs will happen, along with $100 million of money in economic generation,” said Curran. “That’s a very, very big deal for us. We’re just so grateful for this wonderful and fruitful relationship.”

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Christopher Birsner
In addition to being the editor of the Massapequa Observer and Plainview-Old Bethpage Herald, Chris Birsner is the sports editor for Long Island Weekly and often contributes gaming articles to the arts and entertainment publication.

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