When people discuss Sebonack the discussion can only commence with these two words -- Michael Pascucci. It was Pascucci's vision as owner and founder that top tier golf was built on eastern Long Island and doing so immediately next to two of the biggest giants in all the game -- Shinnecock Hills and the National Golf Links of America. Moving the project along was no small feat and deserves major plaudits. Just getting the right property alone took six years.
Then going through the endless rounds of plan reviews and myriad of needed approvals that would have stopped just about anyone else. But Pascucci persisted -- and succeeded. One can only imagine if such old time clubs as Shinnecock NGLA would have ever been completed if facing today's array of environmental reviews and assortment of local government sign-offs.
Initially, Pascucci was going to have just Jack Nicklaus design the course since the two are most familiar with one another through Pascucci's membership at The Bear's Club in Florida. After getting word from his son about the effort Tom Doak had created at Pacific Dunes -- Pascucci reached out to Doak and wanted to gauge his interest for the design. The catch was neither man would do the design solo -- it would be a joint effort. Now, given the egos of the respective parties, the idea of "blending" specific philosophies into one of the very last available parcels of land in eastern Long island for a golf club development was likely to be a major challenge but the end result clearly speak for itself.
Sebonack starts near the water and then moves interior for much of the outward half. The benign opening hole belies what you face at holes #2 and #3. The former is a world class two-shot hole that generally plays into the prevailing wind. The tee shot must avoid trees that hover near the tee and a series of bunkers in the drive zone. The putting surface is simply top notch with a devious false front that's eager to capture the half-hearted approach.
The 3rd plays back the other way and is a test of driving and with the approach. You hit downhill and then follow with an uphill approach to a green superbly placed on a diagonal with a massive deep frontal bunker.
The mixture of holes is of a high level. The long par-3 4th is followed by a quality short par-4. The details are constantly included throughout the outward side and it pays to have quality approaches because the contoured greens do not suffer fools gladly.
The inward half plays to a par-37 and begins with two stellar par-4 holes. The 10th plays 413 yards and features a green that's elevated with plenty of contour. The long par-4 11th that follows is a stout par-4 -- turning left in the drive zone and mandating two well-executed shots.
The strength of Sebonack rests on a constant changing of situations faced throughout the round. There's no easy to discern predictability and with the varying winds that generally blow one has to be able to play the fullest range of shots to succeed.
The ending par-5 is something Mr. Pascucci wanted to have. Both Nicklaus and Doak were intent on a long par-4 but the resourceful owner wisely knew a concluding par-5 would be the best way to end the round. The hole runs parallel to the Peconic and can be reached with two strong shots.
So where does Sebonack rate given the ultra high bar that is Long Island golf? In my mind, the course blends a wide range of different hole types. The turf quality is also second to none and when the weather cooperates the time spent on property is clearly what Mr. Pascucci envisioned for his members and their guests. Sebonack had a high bar to meet given the pedigree of its nearby neighbors. The Nicklaus / Doak partnership managed to clearly produce a layout that takes the strengths of each architect and merges them into a final product where high quality shotmaking is front and center in concert with the beauty of the Long Island landscape. Credit Michael Pascucci with an end product that delivers on all fronts.
M. James Ward
Date: June 04, 2019