Posted July 01, 2014

Sergio Garcia Surprises Golfers at Bethpage Black With Free TaylorMade Drivers

News

Sergio Garcia was the villian at the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black, but he was greeted like a hero last week when he returned to New York’s most famous muni with free drivers for everyone.

Snagging a tee time at Bethpage Black in Long Island is notoriously difficult. Not to mention actually getting around the course that welcomes you to the first tee with a warning sign about its difficulty. Throw in Garcia watching you tee off on the opening hole with a full gallery surrounding the teebox, and you’ve experienced a fraction of what it’s like to be a PGA Tour pro.

Thanks to TaylorMade, several unsuspecting players were lucky enough to do just that at Bethpage Black.

Garcia waited in a nearby parking lot until 8 a.m. the Tuesday morning after the U.S. Open before walking down to the driving range. He approached the booth, paid for his driving-range tokens and grabbed a large bucket of range balls from the nearby stall. Some players prepping for their tee times didn’t even recognize the ninth-ranked golfer in the world as he walked to one of the green mats on the right side of the range. A crowd soon gathered around Garcia as he warmed up with an iron. The jokes started coming when Garcia pulled out his driver.

“Windshield!” one player called out as Garcia bombed one to the edge of the range. “No, he didn’t even reach the fence,” another replied.

“These are Bethpage Black special low-compression range balls,” someone said. Garcia replied, “You’re right, they do feel funny.”

 

With all the attention on Garcia, the players barely noticed the swirling camera crew filming Garcia’s every move and the TaylorMade tour van parked behind him. Then blue-shirted TaylorMade employees barreled out of the back of the van with staff bags full of the SLDR S drivers and set them up under a huge TaylorMade tent. That got more attention.

“Who wants more distance?!” someone bellowed into a megaphone, and players began to jockey for their spot in line to be fitted by Garcia and to receive all sorts of TaylorMade gear. Garcia helped players with their swings, recommended the proper specs and sent them to the tent to grab a new shiny driver.

“This was so cool,” said Brett Emsden, a native of nearby Huntingdon. “When I checked in, one of my buddies said Sergio was at the range. I thought he was talking about another member of our foursome. Not the Sergio.”

“I was so nervous,” said Steve Blanck, who was at Bethpage celebrating Father’s Day with his dad. “I couldn’t even get my ball on the tee. But a free driver and fitting from Sergio is a great way to cap off this trip.”

Blanck rushed to his 8:57 a.m. tee time from the driving range opposite the clubhouse. Set up on the first tee was a full gallery and camera crew, complete with Golf Channel’s Tripp Isenhour emceeing the opening tee shots of every player with a tee time between 9-10 a.m. Steve Dudley, whose high school’s home course was Bethpage Black, was one of the first groups off the tee and striped his tee shot right down the middle.

“They gave us a driver, which was unbelievable,” Dudley said. “I was totally shocked and nervous because this was the first time hitting the driver on the course.”

IMG_2307

Garcia watches as players demo the latest TaylorMade SLDR-S.

Garcia went back-and-forth with every player with a huge smile on his face as they stepped on the tee, giving away dozens of balls for shots landing in the fairway while TaylorMade staffers held up “Quiet” signs to replicate a PGA tournament experience. It was a vast difference from the first time Garcia was on the main stage at Bethpage Black. At the 2002 U.S. Open held at Bethpage, Garcia came under fire from the galleries for his constant gripping and re-gripping of the club and incessant waggling, eventually leading to Garcia giving the fans a middle-finger salute.

“He’s gotten a gazillion percent better,” said Joe Rehor, director of golf at Bethpage Black.

Rehor said the TaylorMade event was all part of a plan that came together in a month’s time to bring Garcia back to Bethpage Black. TaylorMade wanted a well-maintained public course that was in great shape, and Bethpage checked all the boxes.

“We wanted the real Bethpage guy who was pushing another guy out of the way to get his free driver,” Rehor said. “It was all natural. This is the place they should be launching this stuff. This is the grassroots of golf. This isn’t a high-end country club where you have guys walking around with their noses up in the air. You have the salt of the earth here.”

For more news that golfers everywhere are talking about, follow @si_golf on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube video channel.

65 comments
Paul Ranck
Paul Ranck

I love Sergio no matter what anyone says.

TLavonLawrence
TLavonLawrence

Bribery.  Shoring up reputations since the dawn of time.

CitizenKaykay
CitizenKaykay

You are welcome at Compass Pointe in Maryland anytime....

jradam77
jradam77

Anything to improve your image Sergio?!

John Williams
John Williams

Hopefully some of those "hit the ball Sergio" idiots were there and enjoyed the crow Sergio was serving.

Todd Litoski
Todd Litoski

Hey Sergio. how bout sending one of those bad boys to Mr Tigerob.

Glenn Burns
Glenn Burns

Back in 79 when I was JFKs high school's golf captain, we paid 75 cents for a bucket and $6 to play the Black. Sorry I missed Sergio. Good times. We cleared the left side fence with range balls easily and used persimmon drivers.

Gerald Teigrob
Gerald Teigrob

Hey Sergio I need a driver that works for me. Any left?

Daren J. Mongello
Daren J. Mongello

I love Bethpage but $38 can only be had if you are a senior and walking. Black is $60? during the week, $70 something weekends and double that if you are out of state. Great facilities with 5 courses but the fee structure is abusive for a state park.

Clay Russell
Clay Russell

If there's a hole Craig,Sergio will spit in it!!

Mark Williams
Mark Williams

These guys were at the Black course....that's a $130 weekday fee. I think it would have been better received at a smaller club is all.

Chad Mardesen
Chad Mardesen

Bethpage is a $38 daily fee muni...it's a state park course.

Amir John Sheikh
Amir John Sheikh

Oh no, Orlando Mejia. This IS how he's received by fans. Fans of GOLF... All the rest of that sh*t is for the tabloid-ish crowd...

Orlando Mejia
Orlando Mejia

Regardless of what the media makes him out to be.... i am a fan... Amir John Sheikh

Amir John Sheikh
Amir John Sheikh

Well said, Chad. Sad that people reply without knowing the subject...

Mark Williams
Mark Williams

Yeah because guys playing Bethpage need top of the line free drivers. Do it at a small club!

Johnny Bello
Johnny Bello

I agree, this is one of the reasons there has been a decline in new golfers, these guys don't seem to understand who they need to target to grow the game!

Chris Son
Chris Son

Gene Kang danm if you knew a lot this you could of gotten a new driver.

Pat Oneal
Pat Oneal

Ooooh - - wish I had been there !

Jerry Nepomuceno
Jerry Nepomuceno

Do he gave away all the drivers that he lost with in all those tournaments that he choked in. That's a lot if drivers.

Eric Wakefield
Eric Wakefield

Awesome. Went away from Taylormade 4 years ago. Moving back gradually. Love the driver and 3 wood. Want the irons. Sweet. Sergio Garcia, great move. Couldn't get tiger out to do this.

Chad Mardesen
Chad Mardesen

Bethpage is a public course...$38 daily fee course on a state park. It doesn't get a whole lot more muni than that.

Michael Brian White
Michael Brian White

If they are golfing Bethpage Black...do they really need free drivers!? How about doing that at the local muni course.

Christian Bondorff
Christian Bondorff

It's not cool. It's the very rich giving to the already well of..That money should be used for a better purpose.

JstAnothrAnimal
JstAnothrAnimal

I wish someone would show up at my muni with a new Titleist 915D3 8.5*........please???  =)

Powered by WordPress.com VIP
 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 97 other followers