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1 Since Bethpage State Park's first courses opened in 1935 with a $1 green fee, the park's five tracks have hosted 17.1 million rounds. The busy Black course gets 35,000 to 38,000 rounds a year—only half as many as New York City's busiest, Clearview Park Golf Course in Queens, which is known for its matchless views of the Throgs Neck Bridge.
2 If you go by its slope rating of 148, Bethpage Black is four strokes easier than the Ocean course at Kiawah Island and seven shots easier than Pine Valley.
3 Farmer Thomas Powell bought the land in 1695 from Native Americans who signed away their rights by writing X's on a sheepskin deed—the first X's ever scored at Bethpage. Powell named his turf after the Biblical village of Bethpage because it sat between towns called Jerusalem and Jericho.
4 To prep Bethpage Black for the 2002 U.S. Open, Rees Jones added 1.3 million square feet of sod and 9,000 tons of sand. Keeping the course in shape requires 40 tons of top dressing and 20,000 pounds of grass seed per year.
5 Just before the '02 Open, Michael Jordan and New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani each sent word that he wanted to play the Black. Giuliani got on. Jordan got rejected. After a Bethpage Black practice round in '02 Tiger Woods tipped his local caddie $100. The usual caddie fee is $75.
6 The course record of 64 was shot by White Plains, N.Y., pro Craig Thomas, who calls the Black "the world's most tiring round, physically and mentally" but "won't be surprised" if someone breaks his record next week.
7 During the rainy second round in 2002 Phil Tataurangi birdied the 7th hole, one of the longest (489 yards) par-4s in Open history, this way: driver, driver, 25-foot putt. He made one of number 7's two birdies by the 156-man field. This year the hole will be 36 yards longer.
8 The USGA's giant Merchandise Pavilion will offer more than 500,000 Open-logoed items, from $2 ball markers to $1,350 art prints. The USGA expects to sell 110,000 hats during the tournament, an average of 15 hats a minute.
9 The lunar module used in some Apollo Missions was built at Grumman Aircraft, not far from the course. Nearby is the spot where Sonny Corleone was ambushed and killed at a Long Island Causeway tollbooth in The Godfather.
10 The nearest lodging is the Bethpage Motel on Hempstead Turnpike, where rooms go for $79 ($89 on weekends) and manager Louis Cohen gives golfers free bagels and coffee. Say you read about his motel in SI and Cohen will give you $5 off—no kidding!