With the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black just about nine months away, John Feinstein's 2003 book, "Open: Inside the Ropes at Bethpage Black," suddenly becomes relevant once again. In fact, it's most timely right this second, because the book is not so much about the U.S. Open golf tournament itself as it is about the preparation and planning that goes into it as soon as the final putt drops on the previous year's championship.
Anyone interested in the history of the Black Course at Bethpage and how it was transformed from a rundown, aged municipal course into one of the most feared Open sites of all time will enjoy it. Those who like reading about the business of planning for such an event, including local vs. state government haggling, TV network negotiations, and just general local interest should get a kick out of it as well.
But those looking for a book that is purely about the game of golf should steer clear. It is heavy on behind-the-scenes glances at the day-to-day workings of the USGA and very light on pars and bogeys -- and even lighter on birdies.