News & ToursJune 19, 2009

Maybe next time

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. -- Among the many cliches you'll hear in a week like this, one in particular is usually followed by a shrug of the shoulders. "There's nothing you can do," players say when asked about the rain. "Everyone's got to deal with it."

It is an unwritten rule of golf that you're not supposed to complain about the weather. But that's a rule for the players. When you are a golf fan or a journalist -- or in my case, both -- you are allowed to lament a missed opportunity for one of golf's great stages.

Consider the headlines of the Daily News his morning: "Wet A Mess" reads the front page. "Soaked" says the back. For the second time in as many Opens here, rain has become more than just a small part of the story, leading to the inevitable conclusion in some minds that Bethpage Black is nothing more than well-manicured swampland.

Which, as anyone will tell you, it's not. An otherwise diverse test both off the tee and into greens, the Black after being pelted with rain can now be described by many players in only a few words: "Long." "Wet." Did we mention "ridiculously long?"

But again, those are the breaks. The USGA can't control the weather, but it can decide whether it ever wants to come back to Bethpage Black. No one should be so short-sighted to hold it against a course for two weeks of disastrously bad luck in seven years. But then, courses have been penalized for even less than that.

It wasn't Shinnecock's fault that the USGA botched that Open. And by that measure, it wasn't Oak Hill's fault that it produced Shaun Micheel as a winner instead of Tiger Woods.

Fair or not, certain things resonate about tournaments -- and by extension, tournament venues -- that have little to do with the venues themselves. With that in mind, one can only hope that Bethpage Black gets to be known for something other than puddles on the greens.

-- Sam Weinman

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