Posts Tagged ‘Shinnecock’

Sebonack Golf Club is the final piece of the Triangle of Golf Course Heaven. Head directly through Shinnecock’s Tuckahoe Road, then veer left to Sebonack or right to National Golf Links.

I chose the former and drove up through Sebonack’s pearly gates and approached their massive Victorian clubhouse, which directly overlooks National. I was there for a few days to cover the MGA’s biennial French-American Challenge. The property was hypnotizing, to say the least.

This is what I saw:
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Sebonack has an uncanny ability to transform an amateur photographer into a pro.

On the first day, winds were gusting more than 40 mph, creating the most difficult conditions I’ve ever seen on a golf course.

Taken through the woods on Sebonack’s practice area.

One of my favorite shots…All hands on deck to get to prep the course (No. 3)

The practice chipping green. If you’re like me, you can never get enough of the National windmill. Never.

View of the clubhouse from the first green.

The Great Peconic Bay is everywhere. This was taken down the stairs right behind the first green.

Peel a tee shot on the par-5 13th and you’ll be left with this approach.

par-3 12th the day of the apocalyptic winds. Sebonack’s staff said they see those whitecaps less than a handful of times a year.

Par-5 18th. That is all.

National’s aura is overwhelming. The roots for a Long Island golfer.


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Shinnecock Snow

Remember Robert Frost’s poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay?”  Well, he obviously wasn’t referring to Shinnecock’s fescue in the winter.

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Talkin’ Golf Shots

This course ought to reward golf shots…and guys like myself and Raymond are among the few people out here who can make our 4-irons talk.”

-Lanny Wadkins during the ’86 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills.  Of course, Wadkins went on to finish T-2, two shots short of winner Raymond Floyd.

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On To Shinnecock!

A warning sign, similar to the one found at Bethpage Black. I disregard them both.

I must’ve passed Shinnecock Hills in Southampton over 100 times in my life driving to and from Montauk.  The storied track isn’t more than 70 minutes from my home in Bellmore, yet I only pass it on those brilliant trips to The End.

The Shinnecock clubhouse, originally built in 1892, on a historically hot day in October.

While heading back west on Route 27 after a weekend at a friend’s house, I needed to  sneak a peak at the ’16 U.S. Open venue.  I’ve stared at the red-pinstriped pins from afar one too many times.

The view I'm used to; heading west on Montauk Highway.

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The par-5 4th hole at Bethpage Black.

Well, it’s not a U.S. Open but it’s better than nothin’.

The PGA Tour announced today that it will take the first stop of the FedExCup Playoffs to famed Bethpage Black.

The Barclays, normally played at the end of August/early September has signed on to host the tournament through 2016, including stops at the Black next year and in 2016.

In recent years, the Barclays has held the tournament at New Jersey venues including Liberty National (2009) and Ridgewood Country Club (2010).  This year, the tournament will be played at Plainfield Country Club in Edison, N.J.

“To bring The Barclays to Bethpage Black for the first time, and to return to Liberty National, Ridgewood, and Plainfield over the next five years guarantees world-class venues and competition for golf fans in the Tri-State area,” said Bob Diamond, Chief Executive of Barclays PLC.

Bethpage Black, designed by the legendary A.W. Tillinghast, last hosted the U.S. Open in 2009; a rain-drenched, five-day tournament won by Lucas Glover.  It became the first publicly owned course to host the Open back in 2002, where Tiger Woods outlasted the likes of Sergio Garcia and Phil Mickelson to win his second national championship.

The next available U.S. Open date is 2020, but there’s no word if the USGA plans on returning to Bethpage.  But they did recently commit the 2018 Open to another classic Long Island course, Shinnecock Hills GC.

Below are the venues the Barclays will visit through 2016:

2012 – Bethpage State Park’s Black Course, Farmingdale, N.Y.

2013 — Liberty National, Jersey City, N.J.

2014 — Ridgewood Country Club, Paramus, N.J.

2015 — Plainfield Country Club, Edison, N.J.

2016 — Bethpage State Park’s Black Course, Farmingdale, N.Y.

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Shinnecock Hills has officially been acquitted of all manslaughter charges.

For seven agonizing years, the East Coast’s oldest and most storied course sat on major championship death row. It was ready to join the ancient Indian burial mounds and whiskey bottles it was built upon. Combine its sentence to the wrap Bethpage Black received in 2009, and we’re looking at two of America’s most unwanted.  It spelled apocalypse for Long Island golf.

It was nearly an unforgivable sin, that fateful June Sunday in 2004.

The greens the USGA (United States Golf Association) purposely setup to roll as fast as racecar wheels erroneously morphed into a racetrack.  Tap-in putts weren’t falling into cups, they were falling into adjacent bunkers.  Silky-struck approach shots heading for the flag bounced off greens like they were hitting a trampoline.

There’s no denying the carnage that day; 28 players shot 80 or worse. No player was able to break par. For crying out loud, Phil Mickelson three-putted from five-feet on his 71st hole with a lead (oh wait, that’s normal).

But the folks at the USGA found vindicating evidence. They delved into the country’s history books on golf and rediscovered Shinnecock’s glowing presence within them. They scrolled to the line where it explained the Southampton club hosted the second national championship ever, in 1896, and was one of the five founding clubs of the USGA.

They presented convincing parallels the venue draws to St. Andrew’s in Scotland.  The fact it’s the birthplace of championship golf in America, stretching back when three-shotters (today’s par-5s) and mashies (mid-iron) were in. The unique links-style features it so obviously dons; conflicting winds gusting from the north, the Great Peconic Bay and from the south, the Atlantic; gnarly fescue and prickling blueberry bushes posing off fairways; jagged sand dunes unshaped by human hands.

Or maybe they simply made the case that Shinnecock is indeed the mecca of U.S. Open courses. After all, Stanford White, the architect responsible for the original Madison Square Garden, designed the clubhouse (which is said to be the country’s oldest).

Shinnecock Hills deserved a mulligan and that’s exactly what the USGA gave it on Wednesday. One ugly afternoon doesn’t tell a story that’s more than 100 years rich.  You can’t look at the three most recent championships hosted there (1986, 1995, 2004) and deny the greatness of the victors. Despite the conditions in 2004, the tournament was still decided on the last few holes. Isn’t that what you want in an Open?

Giving Shinnecock the lethal injection would’ve meant terminating one of the most fertile golf landscapes in the world.  The USGA doesn’t owe Long Islanders anything.  But it owes golf a whole lot. We can just pray the same mistake isn’t made.

We can pray someone turns on the sprinklers.

Editor’s Note: Story also appears on

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The USGA made rumors official Wednesday morning when they announced that the U.S. Open will return to Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in 2018.

The announcement, which came a day before the start of the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club, awards the storied Southampton club it’s fifth U.S. Open. Shinnecock Hills’ first, in 1896, was the second Open ever played.

USGA President Jim Hyler said Wednesday they were thrilled to return the national championship to one of the “countries most-storied venues.”

“We are confident that Shinnecock Hills will provide a true challenge for the world’s premier players, as it has for more than a century,” he said.

However, the return to Shinnecock didn’t come without debate.  The course received heavy criticism —by both the players and public —the last time it hosted a U.S. Open in 2004, which was won by South Africa’s Retief Goosen. Many players said the USGA’s setup was unfair and that the greens were nearly unplayable. The lack of rain and water made the conditions rock solid, which prevented incoming approach shots from holding the greens.

Hyler admitted the USGA let the course get away from them on the final round and said they used that as a “wholesome learning experience.”

The 2018 Open will be the eighth USGA championship played at Shinnecock and it’s the only club to host U.S. Opens in three different centuries.

“The only thing that’s going to be done at Shinnecock Hills are some new teeing grounds,” said USGA Executive Director Mike Davis. “And the whole reason for that is to try to, in our opinion, bring the wonderful William Flynn designs back into play.”

Editor’s note: Story also appears on

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