I think about the eighth at Bayonne a lot. I’ve had one birdie there and probably eight hundred triple-bogeys. Many things can happen on that hole, and it invariably makes or breaks my round. It’s a long par five. The fairway is pretty wide open but, like almost all the drives at Bayonne, the shot is blind. Usually the second shot on a par five is just a nice easy layup, but on this hole it’s one of the most intimidating shots I’ve ever played. The landing area slopes pretty strongly from right to left and your stance goes that way, too. Everything’s pulling you to the left, and left is dead, in the marsh. All you tell yourself is, “Don’t pull it left,” and of course that’s what you always end up doing. So it takes all this work to get to the green and then you find it’s one of the hardest to putt at Bayonne. It’s big and three-tiered, so it can be difficult to get close to the hole. I love that this hole comes close to the end of the nine, because so many matches change course here.
Golf for me is feast or famine. If I’m working, I never get to play, but if I’m not I have a lot of downtime. I play with two of my friends, and they both have the ability to get home in two on number eight—if they hit good drives. I love it when they go for it because I’ve only seen them hit the green two or three times. If you miss, you’re out of the hole. You’re done. So the eighth never really lets up on you, no matter how you try to play it. It’s really neat that way, and probably the most extreme example of what golf at Bayonne is all about.
As told to Thomas Dunne. Billy Crudup’s new movie, Watchman, opens in theaters nationwide on March 6.