I have to say that Sebonack is for me the best new course that I've played in a rather long time.
It had a mountain of press to live up to, it has illustrious immediate neighbours, it is frightfully exposed in the world of golf in many ways and despite all that it just plain and simply impressed the absolute hell out of me. To imagine that Tom Doak the once enfant terrible of golf opinion, perhaps once thought of as cannon fodder by one Jack William Nicklaus (If Jack ever read the early editions of Confidential Guide)would pair so brilliantly with Mr Nicklaus to build a course that is simpatico with a wide variety of golfers world-wide is an accomplishment in itself. Kudos to Mr. Pascucci. It tests the great player and provides fun for the average player. Situated on a phenomenally beautifully site it is tastefully done - and really commands attention in so many ways without shouting.
It is simply brilliant in every sense of the world.
The routing takes you over the plot of land twice in a twisty turn-y way in an unfolding of variety without really creating the feel of mandatory returning nines. Design balance is evident without forcing it so. They are in no way symmetrical or mirror images, there are no odd ducks, the closest being the par 3 eighth over water, but it could just as easily have been a blind hole, a dune or some arts and crafts land movement. But in the end who really minds a do or die shot once in a while, it's not 250 yards and thankfully nothing like Jack's Island green that otherwise mars the Ritz in Jupiter, Florida (which I also found on initial and repeat plays jarringly odd) which is fairly representative of JWN's recent improvements in overall style.
Certainly those that know me can perhaps feel some comfort in calling me a bit of a Doak butt-boy, but in reality, I've Criticized Tom Doak's work, too, so that won't work. Even Pacific Dunes to me suffered a little from parallel/transitional par 5's but they have their saving graces at the greens so that's for another day.
At any rate I've shown only a few of my own photos and am relying on another for an additional few fill-in photos, I don't really like to throw out a lot of photos of such a private enclave, anyway, so here goes.
I really like a somewhat softie opener: please no par 5's, not a ball-buster four and also no par 3's too early in the loop as each of these bog down the get away. I want to play golf! A drive and pitch with a demanding green complex is a great and versatile start.
One forward tee
Short four to start, any one of a number of options work, but short game on right from the first two greens which are both severe by anyone's judgment. Number one is shallow and clearly has strategic flexibility in approaches to quadrants differing. Two is long and hard and uphill and perhaps a bit too demanding on the shortest hitters and some ladies, but the green and surrounds have lots of ground movement and get your pulse racing. Third green gives a bit of a break with larger and softer contours and this ebb and flow of really racy slope-y greens and more rounded heavily sloped ones is a repeating pattern on the greens. Par 4's run from drive and pitch to needing a long iron or hybrid even after a well-struck shot. Changing wind effects, ground contours (Eleven!) and many more uphill shots than JWN would have allowed on his own are present over and over.
A natural pond comes into play on the par 5 thirteenth and the afore-mentioned man-made one fronting the eighth are all the water in play, rather remarkable for a modern golf course with JWN's team at the site. Mr. Nicklaus as a professional golfer loves the black/white effect of water on the precision of a shot as do all professionals earning their keep on a stroke play basis. Little is seen at Sebonack. it is indeed a lovely piece of land used very well, I suspect that Mr. Doak had a lot of input into the final routing.
For me the par 3's were ranging from nine to four iron; one par 5 was well within reach and two were out of the question, one begging why one might ever try?
Clubhouse from first Green
The clubhouse is a classic Hamptons structure, more reminiscent of A graceful large home than a banquet hall; warm, polished and understated with a locker-room layout encouraging social intercourse and a deck inviting you to linger longer than you should.
A truly superior course and a comfortable, even homey club.
Two from the tee
Two from behind-pt
Three from behind-pt
Par three fourth-pt
Sixth green complex and contours - a great example of expert shaping mimicking and enhancing nature-pt
Powerful seventh contouring a tour de force!-pt
Ninth complex - a par 5 enticing from 250 and 50 yards-pt
The extraordinarily thrilling tee shot on number ten-pt
Below ten green and a very demanding pin, the way r likes them-pt
Sixteen in a very tight pin position-pt
Seventeen severely tucked-pt
Eighteen in all its glory-pt
(-pt) thanks to a regular reader for contributing several of these photos
Overall Quality of Individual Holes:
Rest of Club: