When I play a tough track like Bethpage Black, I always start out with the best of intentions. Forget distance--keep it in the fairway. Lay up anywhere you can't make it without a miracle. When you're in the rough, wedge out. Still, sometimes it only takes one hole where even the best of intentions don't count for much.
This is the eleventh at the Black. It's a 421-yard par four that I usually do fairly well on. This day, feeling cocky for parring the more difficult 10th hole, I pulled my drive hard left. Not quite a duck hook, but maybe a goose with a crooked neck. Anyway, I wasn't lucky enough to land in the bunker but rather found the ball about three feet short of it. The rough was so deep and I was so far from the fairway, I knew I couldn't get out sideways. I would take an unplayable, but the nearest drop would still have been in the ka-ka--and I couldn't drop in the bunker because that would be closer to the hole.
Finally, I took one hearty swipe to try to hit the ball into the bunker. It moved a foot closer but still in the hay. Got there in the second try though, hit to the center of the fairway with an eight iron from the sand, and eventually walked off the green with a triple.
My thanks to playing partner Tom Ralph, who was playing the Black for the first time that day and brought along his camera to memorialize the occasion.
Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a romantic thriller about blood diamonds in the Congo