Designed by the great Jack Nicklaus and Tom Doak, Sebonack Golf Club sits just to the west of famed Shinnecock Hills where they held the 1986 U.S. Open won by Raymond Floyd, 1995 U.S. Open won by Corey Pavin, and 2004 U.S. Open won by Retief Goosen. Sebonack is cut out of the dunes and offers great views of the Great Peconic Bay and Cold Spring Pond. They have rerouted the course just for this week's Open which means there are now three par 5's on the back nine and only one par 5 on the front.
I knew we were in for a tough test when we walked up to the first green and noticed the 8-foot tall false front that will repel any iron shot that isn't struck perfectly to the correct distance. The front nine has some scoring opportunities with the short par 4 fourth hole, where the USGA could move the tees up and tempt players to drive the green, however we won't be so bold. The par 3 seventh hole plays over a massive pond and can play anywhere from 185 yards to only 95 yards depending on the tee placement.
The first three holes on the back nine are probably the toughest on the course, with two long difficult par 4s followed by the par 3 12th hole that reminds me of the postage stamp at Royal Troon (the green is very tiny and it slopes away from you). The first two par 5s on the back will be longer and only reachable in two if they move the tees up, but the final three holes are a long uphill par 4 with a wicked green at 16, a downhill par 3 17th that is well bunkered and has a back right hole location where the only part of the flag you can see is the top because of a massive dune, and the downhill par 5 18th that will be reachable in two provided you don't snap hook your first or second shot into the Bay.
First 18 Hole Practice Round
This morning we teed off No. 10 with professional Amelia Lewis. It was great playing a practice round with only two players and a foursome in front of us, because then we could hit multiple shots into the green. After going around all 18 holes yesterday and putting on the greens, we focused on getting our sight-lines off the tee, hitting different iron shots into the greens so we know how the ball will react, and how to use the slopes to get at different hole locations.
This is by far the best golf course layout, design, and conditioned course I have ever seen. There is a lot of room off the tee in the landing areas, but the greens are so sloped that there are basically three to four small greens in one because of how they are sectioned off. The premium this week will be on iron shots into the greens and putting, not a surprise at a U.S. Open. Casie hit the ball great off the tee today ... she was carrying the driver 255, she hit a lot of very solid iron shots, and she is doing great with the speed of the greens.
This course is a long walk, with uphill and downhill slopes, as well as the fact that there aren't too many flat spots on the grounds so we are just going to play nine holes in the morning tomorrow, and focus on chipping and putting in the afternoon. The Open will be televised on ESPN2 from 2-6 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and 2-5 p.m. on NBC Sunday. More updates to come tomorrow, but for now I'm going to apply the Aloe after getting torched out there despite wearing sunscreen.