Tom Doak and Jack Nicklaus, two golf course architects with distinct design philosophies, collaborated to create a dramatic links-style course in the shadow of two classic layouts – National Golf Links of America and Shinnecock Hills. Situated on 300 acres in Southampton, N.Y., Sebonack Golf Club was created on a piece of property that, according to the club’s website, “was long-destined to become a golf course.”
Sebonack, which opened in 2006, features holes offering panoramic views of the Peconic Bay and Cold Spring Pond. Along with the water vistas, the routing takes golfers on a ride of rolling fairways, expansive bunkers and waste dunes, while offering undulating greens that present a challenge of swales and burrows. While the course is impeccably maintained, Sebonack gives a vibe of being rustic. That results in offering a layout that is much different than the more historic neighboring courses (NGLA and Shinnecock Hills).
Sebonack, which is an old Indian word, was the brainchild of Michael Pascucci, who made his fortune in the car leasing business. The current owner of WLNY-TV in Long Island reportedly paid $46 million for the property, and he was able to convince Nicklaus and Doak to work together on the project.
Doak clearly had an influence on the bunkering as there are striking resemblances to Pacific Dunes, one of four championship layouts at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Oregon and host site for the 2006 Curtis Cup Match. Nicklaus’ influence can be felt on the par-3s, especially the fourth and eighth holes.
“My goal was to get the best 18 holes I could out of the property,” Pascucci told Bloomberg news for a May 2006 story.
On bringing together the two architects, Pascucci told Bloomberg: “It was insurance I wouldn’t have any bad holes.”
The course was constructed on property that was once the summer estate (Bayberry Land) of Charles H. Sabin, the former president of The Guaranty Trust Company and one of the founding members of The National Golf Links of America. He also was a close friend of NGLA designer C.B. Macdonald. The entry gates where one drives into Sebonack also were part of the Sabin estate. More recently, the land was owned by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, who used the old Sabin mansion as a convalescent home for its members.
The 28-room Georgian mansion was torn down to make room for Sebonack’s second, third and 18th holes. What was formerly a reflecting pool is now the “Coffin Bunker” on No. 18, which is named for Sabin’s landscape architect, Marian Cruger Coffin.
Sebonack’s routing also is interesting. The first three holes play near the water, but the character changes as holes meander through a forested area. Several holes are also in sandy/scrubby areas. But by the time one reaches No. 11, the golfer is new water for a couple of holes before returning inland. A gorgeous vista unfolds upon leaving the 17th green. Players walk through a clearing onto a high bluff overlooking the Peconic Bay. The closing hole runs parallel to the water, with the Bay to the golfer’s left.
Sebonack also features a 28,000 square-foot clubhouse and several four-bedroom cottages for members/guests to rent when staying on property.