Long Island is home to over 140 golf courses, but never before has it seen one with as much opening acclaim and fanfare as Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton. Opened for play this year, Sebonack has been the most anticipated golf course in the nation since Michael Pascucci purchased 300 acres of land adjacent to National Golf Links of America in July of 2001.
Sebonack is one of the most unique courses ever created. Certainly the most notable feature of its development is the collaboration between Tom Doak and Jack Nicklaus, two of the foremost golf course designers in the world. Nicklaus, a longtime friend of Pascucci’s, was the only designer in mind when the property was acquired, but after being impressed with the designs, writings, and ideas of Doak, Pascucci decided to play the role of matchmaker between these two brilliant golf minds. While the two are responsible for over 200 courses around the world, never before have they had the opportunity to work together. The layout and feel of the course is evidence of the experience of both of its designers. Combining Doak’s renowned routing and Nicklaus’s unmatched eye towards spectacular shotmaking, Sebonack reflects the talents of both designers, and the result is a whole that is much more than the sum of its parts.
From an aesthetic perspective, Sebonack is a marvel to behold. Thanks to its idyllic peninsular location and a great variety of elevations, nearly every hole affords golfers a view of either Great Peconic Bay or Cold Spring Pond. Sebonack was obviously built not only to be playable, but beautiful, as well. Most holes have been completed since the summer of 2005, and they have spent the past year maturing under the watchful eye of Garret Bodington, former superintendent of The Red Course at Bethpage. Despite the urge to unveil Sebonack for play, the decision not to rush its development has been very wise. Each hole is a masterpiece in its own right, and as a collective whole, Sebonack is one of the most beautiful courses in existence. Even Mark Twain would have a hard time having his goo walk spoiled at Sebonack.
Although it is brand new, Sebonack has been thrust into an area of historical golf significance. Situated alongside both Shinnecock Hills Golf Club and National Golf Links of America, Sebonack only adds to what may be the most golf-rich area of land in the entire world. Like its neighbors, Sebonack is a private course, and only the wealthy need apply. Although exact figures have not been released to the public, it is suspected that a membership to Sebonack is the priciest in the country.
As legend has it, the marriage between Michael Pascucci and Sebonack was borne from love at first sight. He bought the property just two months after first seeing it, and cost was apparently not a concern. It is estimated that after all expenses—the purchase of the property, zoning regulations, a legal fight to be allowed to build a golf course on the site, and the construction cost of the course itself—Pascucci and his group of investors have sunken over $100 million into Sebonack.
Pascucci has made it no secret that he wants Sebonack to be one of the best golf courses in the world. The amount of money and effort that has gone into the course is a testament to that. While facing opposition from environmentalists and preservationists during the zoning process for Sebonack, Pascucci appeased them by allowing 95 acres of the property to be kept as a wildlife preserve. He also donated $1 million to the town of Southampton and 50 acres to the Southampton College marine science program. His commitment to protecting the integrity of the land ultimately led to Sebonack becoming a reality. This respect for the environment can be seen through the work of Doak, a designer famed for his minimalist stylings. Hardly any land was required to be moved during the construction of Sebonack, and in no way does that detract from the finished product. The site formerly known as Bayberry Land seems like it was made for golf.
If it seems like Sebonack is extravagant, that’s because it is. Pascucci and his team of investors have spared no expense in their quest to make Sebonack a delight to the discerning golfer. From the moment one steps on the course, it is evident that Sebonack has an aura of greatness about it. After such a tremendous first impression, it’s clear that Sebonack’s potential is nearly limitless. Sebonack is the newest kid on the richest golf block in the world.
If you don’t see a few of Sebonack’s holes appearing on a “Best Holes” list sometime soon, then your reading material must not be current. Take the 8th hole, for instance. A 180-yard par-3, this hole features a small, kidney-shaped green that is flanked by one bunker in the front and two in the back. Oh, and there’s also a 150-yard water carry to worry about. The 570-yard par-5 13th is also a site to behold. Running parallel to a stretch of beach alongside Cold Spring Lake, the 13th is drivable in two only by those who ate an enormous bowl of Wheaties in the clubhouse prior to their round. But as intimidating as the 13th is, it isn’t even the longest hole on the back 9. That distinction would belong to the bestial 15th, a 625-yard monster that could easily double as an airport runway were it not for the three bunkers that separate the fairway from the lay-up landing area. And you will be laying up, especially with the prevailing winds blowing off the approaching shore directly into your face. These are just three examples of a course full of amazing holes. With one of the greatest shotmakers of all-time designing the course, expect to experience quite a few more interesting predicaments. Sebonack dazzles from the 1st tee to the 18th green.
With the effort and expense that it took just to make Sebonack a reality, you can be sure that this East End masterpiece will be here for a long time to come. It’s the first course in a while that refuses to settle for being merely good, and instead goes for greatness from the moment of its inception. Mike Pascucci has something special in Sebonack.