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To protect its sheets, Bethpage abuses bad players, bots

Demand for tee times at New York’s famous metro station is as strong as ever. But complaints about the reservation system have increased.

New York State Parks

Bots beware. The people of Bethpage State Park come to you. Some bad actors: beware, too. Managers of the country’s most popular municipal golf courses are battling abuse of their busy booking system.

In an email sent last week to registered golfers, the management of Bethpage, which oversees five 18-hole courses on Long Island, including the famous Black Course, announced a series of policy changes aimed at deterring those who try to play the program for their money. or entertainment benefit.

The changes, some of which have already gone into effect, include cancellation limits and frequency limits and the elimination of doubtful accounts. A new reservation section has also been created to ensure that only verified New York State residents get 7-day advance reservation access to the park’s quintet of courses, the Black, Red, Green, Yellow and Blue.

In addition to laying out those policy shifts, the email warned against the use of bots or “any third-party service” that advertises access to the Bethpage sheet, while warning that any golfer “caught trying to sell a tee time, exchange. time, or try (sic) and bypass the booking system” will have their account permanently suspended. “In some cases,” the email said, “State Park Police may need to be involved.”

The strong message comes as Bethpage faces a larger version of a challenge facing many courses across the country in the wake of the pandemic-era golf crisis: demand for tee times outstrips supply.

While this imbalance is new at Bethpage (especially on the many-times major championship Black Course, where generations of golfers have slept in their cars in hopes of landing the coveted spot), a new digital tilt has begun. years of age. In an email to, Bethpage State Park director Scott Matson said strong demand at the facility has remained since the Covid-spike. No big change there. “The increase we’ve seen,” Matson wrote, “is in the form of complaints from our golfers who often can’t make reservations, because they leave early every night at 7pm,” when new reservations are made available online. .

Why they go so fast is another matter. One reason, it seems, is that many golfers get the wrong limit, either by creating multiple accounts under different profiles, or booking appointments to cancel them only by meeting friends, family members or playing partners, among other conclusions. In its email to registered golfers, Bethpage executives said they spent the past several months checking “all accounts” in their booking system and found hundreds of people with duplicate accounts. Those accounts have been deleted, the email said. To prevent such accounts from being created in the future, a new residency verification process has been implemented, requiring users to submit an emailed copy of their New York driver’s license or valid New York State ID.

Under the new cancellation policy, on the other hand, golfers will be allowed to cancel or change reservations up to eight times in a calendar month. Any further corrections will result in the suspension of their account. This law will start on July 1 of this year. Some tee time restrictions have been set. Starting this week, bookings on the Red Course, which were previously unlimited, have been centralized every 14 days. The Black Course limit will remain the same: one booking every 28 days.

Throwing one’s way into the first ticket of a log-filled course is a tradition as old as bribing the starter, but that analog approach has given way in a big way to hiding proprietary, high-tech tools. The impact was felt far beyond New York. In Los Angeles, where city and county officials once had serious concerns about bots and third-party vendors in the municipal golf system, public outcry over those issues grew too much this year to find a response; a $10 booking fee was recently added to prevent the resale of tee times.

How common bots are in the Bethpage system is hard to say. In an email to, park director Matson said Bethpage’s reservation system has a Google security feature if it senses “unusual or automated things from the user’s device on the other end.”

“We know (the boots) are there, not just for golfing,” Matson said. “But we haven’t seen consistent, foolproof evidence of them working to protect tee times.”

As for third-party buyers, “a couple of places popped up during the violence,” but those were closed, Matson said, with the help of the New York State Park Police. “We haven’t seen any evidence of this recently but we know there are rumors from people who play golf.”

Another way to gauge the type and extent of the problem may be to see how effective the remedies are. In their email to registered Bethpage golfers, park officials expressed hope.

“We know that some of these changes may cause confusion among the golf community, but we hope that these changes will allow more users to get bookings going forward.”

Josh Sens Editor

Golf, food and travel writer, Josh Sens has been a contributor to GOLF Magazine since 2004 and now contributes to all areas of GOLF. His work has been honored in The Best American Sportswriting. He is also the author, with Sammy Hagar, of Are We Have Any Fun Yet: the Cooking and Partying Handbook.

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