He fielded claims that the sign showed up in the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s but could not tab one answer the definitive one.
A column in the New York Post, meanwhile, gave the benefit of the doubt to Mike Asheroff, a former deputy director of state parks who also shared his story with Golf.
According to Asheroff, it was a Memorial Day in the early ‘80s when he got a call about an incident out on the course. A man was trying to teach his wife the game on the challenging course while a frustrated group of golfers stacked up behind them. The situation soon devolved into both parties shooting golf balls into the other and the husband and wife had to be escorted from the course by police.
“I turned to [my employee] at that point and said, ‘Give me a piece of paper,’ ” Asheroff told the Post this week. “I scribbled out the wording of the sign and said, ‘Get the sign shop to make this up and put it by the park register and if anybody wants to play golf on the Black, point it out to them.’ That’s how the sign got out there.”
If only he had thought to trademark that wording, of course.
In various rankings of the most difficult courses in America, the Black tends to come in around 5-7, with The Ocean Course at Kiawah (S.C.) usually ranking No. 1.
The funny thing about the Black is there was a time not so long ago when it wasn’t that popular to play. Prior to the rejuvenation of the course by Rees Jones in 1998 and the arrival of championship golf, the course had devolved in the minds of many into an overgrown challenge that wasn’t worth the slog.
But that’s all different now. Between its exposure on television and the appeal of paying less than the amount of a good dinner to play the same course that Tiger tamed, Bethpage Black is as popular as ever.
Plus, there’s that sign, growing more famous by the year, all while warning, teasing and drawing people to what lies ahead. Never underestimate the power of a good dare.
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