The telephone call-in system is rigged, they all say, so they
come here, to the Bethpage State Park car line, trying to nab
one of the 10 to 15 tee times reserved for walk ups at the famed
Black course. Those in line must heed the rules (right) or risk
the wrath of the other waiting golfers. SI got in line on a
recent Friday and stayed until Saturday morning to document the
quest to play the host course of the 102nd U.S. Open. --Cameron
Brian Fortune (middle) had pole position but loses it when he
leaves his car for more than an hour. He nearly comes to blows
with Bethpage veteran Louis Pow (left).
Fortune's out; Dave Wild, 33, takes over space number 1. The bad
news: "My TV's not working," he says of the set in his backseat.
"I'll do this only once in my life," says Wild, showing his I.D.
to staffer Kara Grand. (Golfers are allowed just one round at the
Black in '02 before the Open.)
Wild hits the links (sausage variety) with carmate Eric
Trenaman, who says, "This is an excuse for a night with the boys."
Trenaman, Lou Seeley of space number 8 and Wild. "I grew up on
this course," Seeley says. "I want to play it before the pros get
Park staffer Mickey Walsh (left) hands out green bracelets and
bakery tickets (numbers 1-4), both of which are needed to play.
Eric Trenaman (right) and brother Gary, also in the first
foursome, catch a few last desperate winks before their date
with the Black.
The herd senses tee times are close at hand. After a long, cold
night, it's almost time to hit the range and start warming up.
Eric, Gary, Dave and pal Kyle Piechucki pay the $39 greens fee.
The bracelets, new this year, must be intact. They're designed to
foil brokers who in the past paid car-sitters up to $100 for
After a one-hour frost delay (and a 27 1/2-hour wait) Eric,
nervous, hits the first shot: a low liner. It could be a long
day--welcome to Bethpage Black.
TWELVE COLOR PHOTOS: JOHN IACONO (WALK UP LINE)