Designed by William Mitchell, opening for play in 1962, the Ocean course at The Club at New Seabury has a split personality.
The Ocean’s outward nine loops down to the Nantucket Sound in dramatic fashion before the inward half doglegs its way through tree-lined corridors to the northeast of the clubhouse.Bruce Hepner, former Renaissance man, has already renovated the Dunes, the club’s second course, and will complete a restoration of the Ocean course in 2020.
The Mitchell design was clearly a major addition to the Cape Cod scene when it first opened in 1962 but over the course of time the layout became tired and the '60s design motif clearly was out of touch with a style that truly needed updating given its promising setting.
The course is a tale of two different presentations. The outward nine more aligned to the course's name with the 2nd and 3rd holes -- both strong par-4's -- are the only holes in all of Cape Cod situated immediately next to the ocean. The rest of the nine plays in an open area and wind velocities can vary dramatically.
The inward half is closeted in a tree line and the holes are literally sequestered from one another.
To say the two sides are radically different from one another is a major understatement of epic proportions.
To the facility's credit, the hiring of architect Bruce Hepner is a most promising situation. Hepner worked under Tom Doak before branching out on his own and it will quite interesting to see what shakes out from his efforts.
The course will be closing in September and not reopen till the end of May '20.
I was briefed on some of the key improvements that will happen and Hepner's work could very well radically change and improve the layout that exists now.
The key issue will be more than updating the design - it will be whether the layout can be prepared to create a legitimate firm and fast test where the bounce of the ball is a central dimension. Right now, the roll of the ball is fairly limited. Can Hepner do just that? Can management sustain that effort once the work is done?
The Ocean Course also needs a new name -- the intersection with the water is extremely limited and more of a marketing ploy than actual reality.
The two nines are clearly going to remain different but Hepner's task could very well set the stage for a "new" unveiling that can elevate the course to a heightened level it has yet to achieve.
We shall see.
M. James Ward