Sebonack Golf Club Celebrates Grand Opening

Bearing fruition to one of the most highly anticipated design collaborations in recent years, Sebonack Golf Club, co-crafted by Jack Nicklaus and Tom Doak, marked its grand opening on August 23. The opening of the Southampton, N.Y., layout was marked by a press conference and first-tee ceremony before hundreds of invited guests, members and media. Heralded by some as "the most highly anticipated new private course in the country," some feel Sebonack is poised to capture acclaim as a "modern classic."

Situated on 300 waterfront acres next to the historic National Golf Links of America and Shinnecock Hills Golf Course, most of Sebonack's holes offer panoramic views of Long Island's Great Peconic Bay and Cold Spring Pond. The course, which is meant to look weathered despite its infancy, features contoured fairways, expansive bunkers and waste dunes, and undulating greens with swales and ridges.

"Both Jack Nicklaus and Tom Doak have given Sebonack a lot of their attention and time," said owner Michael Pascucci. "My goal in securing this extraordinary alliance of experience and talent was to get the best 18 holes out of this piece of land as possible. What I had hoped for was to have Tom's minimalist style successfully mesh with Jack's strategic mind as history's greatest golfer and one of its finest designers, in order to result in a course of beauty and a pure test of golf skills. I believe we have achieved something very special with Sebonack."

Both designers agree that together they have crafted a course "that is better than either of us could have done alone." Nicklaus, who was captivated by the property the first time he saw it, said, "One of the reasons I agreed to do this project is that I enjoy working with other people. I am always interested in other people's ideas and what I might glean from them. I think Tom has some great ideas on how to go about golf course design. I have my own ideas, and I would think the ideas I used have impacted him. The Sebonack project has influenced us both in positive ways, and it was a very pleasant experience. We are very proud of the end product."

Doak, who once said of Sebonack that "it's hard to imagine a project bigger than this one," thinks he definitely benefited from the experience of working with Nicklaus. "The experience of the collaboration with Jack has encouraged me to be bolder in the future," Doak remarked. "I'd like to design a course for a professional event someday, and I think because of the Sebonack experience I understand the mindset much better after working with Jack and his team."

Sebonack measures 7,316 yards from the back tees, plays to a par 72 and is a challenging, but not intimidating, course. Three other sets of tees test golfers with yardages of 6,803, 6,230 and 5,310, respectively. The par-5, 560-yard 18th runs along the bluff of Great Peconic Bay and may be soon regarded as one of golf's most dramatic finishing holes. The par-4 11th is viewed by Nicklaus and Doak as one of the most beautiful of any at Sebonack, but it has teeth and requires a precise drive and an accurate downhill second shot.

Of the most difficult holes on the course, the par-4 second, Doak states, "Everything we had to work with at Sebonack is on display here: dunes, trees, the wrinkly contours of the fairway, and Great Peconic Bay on the far right. The green site is tucked among the dunes reminiscent of Ballybunion or Pacific Dunes and has a big false front to it like the 14th hole at Augusta National." According to Nicklaus, the second hole might take members the most time to figure out how to play.

A charming par-3, the 182-yard "bye" or 19th hole is also incorporated into the layout. Unresolved bets may be settled here, a tradition found at many courses in Great Britain.

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