Written by Denise Nash Thursday, 18 June 2009 11:04
Before the professionals have a chance to golf on Bethpage State Park’s difficult Black Course, some celebrities and one lucky contest winner had the chance to test the field. And everyone agreed – it is a tough course.
Golf Digest hosted a U.S. Open Challenge on Friday, June 12 that featured former NBA star Michael Jordan, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and performer Justin Timberlake with contest winner Larry Giebelhausen rounding out the foursome.
This was the second year for the challenge that was sparked after Tiger Woods and some other professional golfers said that an average golfer couldn’t break 100 on a U.S. Open golf course under U.S. Open conditions. Golf Digest held a contest with the lucky winner getting to golf alongside three celebrities and try and prove the professionals wrong - that an amateur could in fact break 100.
Chicago-native Giebelhausen won the contest and represented the 73,581 contestants that submitted a six-word essay to explain why they think they can break a score of 100 and also included a 60-second video supporting their six-words.
His essay read, “I’m a cop. I’ll shoot low.”
The four amateurs played the Black Course, with its 7,426-yard layout, the second longest in U.S. Open history that boasts three par fours that are more than 500 yards. The nationally televised round was played under the same course conditions and USGA Rules that the U.S. Open competitors will face this weekend.
The amateurs faired well - Ben Roethlisberger shot an 81, Michael Jordan an 86, Justin Timberlake an 88 and Larry Giebelhausen a 101.
“Every golf course we play from now on will seem easy,” said Roethlisberger.
Timberlake praised his competitor. “Ben made some great shots today and that’s what you have to do, make great shots and grind out putts. I’ve never seen a bigger swing with that kind of control,” Timberlake said of Roethlisberger. “The only guy who has that big of a swing with that kind of control is [professional golfer] John Daly.”
Giebelhausen, who was “thrilled” to get this opportunity, said that people will say the golf course was tough, “and it is.”
“And they’ll say the golf course was long, and it is. And the golf course beat them, well, some might say that. But I think I kind of beat myself. But that’s the way it is. Life goes on,” he said.
The challenge also gave spectators a preview of the U.S. Open course that Jordan said local players should be proud of.
Bethpage “is in my top five, without a doubt,” said Jordan. “I’ve played a lot of courses. I’m a member at Medinah. This golf course, people around here should be proud of it.”
Golf Digest’s challenge was done in association with the USGA and NBC Sports.
“The Challenge — through Golf Digest’s lead–up stories and the NBC broadcast of the competition — was a creative way of giving people a peek into what goes into setting up the U.S. Open every year,” said USGA Executive Director David Fay. “It also provided a fun, informative platform through which we could promote some of our other core programs, including the USGA Handicap System, our role as equipment regulator and our impact — through our Green Section — on golf course conditioning. So we’re delighted to participate again and to see how the average golfer fares on a very challenging golf course set up under U.S. Open conditions.”
The challenge will air on NBC as a 90–minute television program on June 21, prior to its final round telecast of the U.S. Open.