- Garret Bodington knows every inch of the terrain, every blade of grass and grain of sand at Sebonack Golf Club
. Working seven days a week with or without the benefit of sunlight, the club's superintendent has put his heart and soul into the course that he helped develop prior to and since it opened in 2006.
In 2003, Bodington moved to Sebonack from Bethpage
State Park to work with Sebonack owner Michael Pascucci and course designers Jack Nicklaus and Tom Doak to create an experience that led Golf Magazine
to name it the best new private course in 2006. Last month, the course that once existed only on a blueprint, and before that in the minds of its architects, was given the ultimate seal of approval from the United States Golf Association - it was awarded the 2013 U.S. Women's Open Championship.
"It's a big feather in the cap," Bodington said. "I think we'll look back in 20 years and be amazed at what we've been able to do."
Its youth made the assignment a mild upset, yet the pristine grounds and beautiful views of the Great Peconic Bay from nearly anywhere on the course speak for themselves. The club's membership fees, which hover around $500,000, steer the less-than-considerably well-to-do elsewhere, Yet, it adds to a mystique that the likes of Shinnecock Hills and Maidstone
used to muster. Bodington believes that because the Open will offer a rare glimpse at the club's layout will draw spectators in droves as much as the high quality of golf.
"If you haven't had an opportunity to see it, you really should," Bodington said. "It's breathtaking. On 13 or 14 holes, you can see the water. It's so beautiful. A lot of people don't realize the topography of the property. There's so much native restoration here to make it look like the Shinnecock grasslands, and with the wildlife that's here, it's going to be a neat treat to have people from all over the country come here and see what we have."
From almost anywhere on the course, golfers are treated to a view of Great Peconic Bay.
Bodington, who worked on the bunker crew at three Masters in the 1990s, helped turn Bethpage Black into a frenzied event in 2002 when Tiger Woods
carded a score of even par to emerge victorious. Bethpage welcomed 42,500 ticketed fans per day to set a U.S. Open record that was matched by this year's Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, CA. Even with the fanfare, Bodington is prouder of the opportunity to shine the spotlight on Sebonack, with the world watching intently.
The 16th hole is an example of the club's hilly topography.
"When I tell people that, to me, Sebonack is bigger than the 2002 Open, people look at me like I'm crazy," Bodington admitted. "When I started working at Bethpage, I renovated the course and worked on it for five years. Here I had the opportunity to work with Michael Pascucci, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Doak on a team that created Sebonack, and now I get to prepare for it for a national open."
The Open will be the first ever on Long Island, and first in New York State since Winged Foot hosted the 1973 U.S. Women's Open, won by Susie Berning. Southampton will truly be the epicenter of women's golf in 2013; National Golf Links of America
, Sebonack's neighbor to the east, was awarded the Walker Cup, which pits America's top golfers against players from Britain and Ireland. National hosted the original Walker Cup in 1922.
Earlier this month, the USGA
met with club officials for a preliminary review of how Sebonack should or might be altered for the 2013 event. Sebonack figures to play at roughly 6,900 yards, or approximately 200 yards more than this year's installment, hosted by Interlachen Country Club in Edina, MN. Distance will not be an issue; Sebonack can be extended to as many as 7,400 yards, which would accommodate the LPGA
's top hitters, including the 65 players who average better than 250 yards off the tee in 2008. Sebonack's fairways are generally wide and uniquely intertwined, a sharp contrast from the tree-lined holes at Interlachen, although Bodington concedes they'll likely be brought in slightly.
Sebonack expects to play at about 6,900 yards for the U.S. Women's Open.
"A lot of the girls will be able to let it rip," he said. "At some places they might pull out a 3-wood, but they'll probably be using a driver quite a bit here - Sebonack is a challenging golf course. It's going to really stand up on its own."
A golf die-hard, Bodington said he can't remember the last time he missed a U.S. Women's Open on television. Before no time, the game's greats such as Lorena Ochoa and Paula Creamer
, up-and-comers like Seon Hwa Lee, as well as stars yet to be determined, will invade Sebonack and test its merit. Preparing the grounds for major championship golf begins now, even one that's five years down the road. Come 2013, one can expect the already immaculate Sebonack to be at her very best.
"When you work enough tournaments, you understand that all the preparation that you do in the years leading up to the event is what pays off." Bodington said. "I want everyone to leave on Sunday night and say 'wow, what a great tournament that was.' "
Last month, the course that once existed only on a blueprint, and before that in the minds of its architects, was given the ultimate seal of approval from the United States Golf Association - it was awarded the 2013 U.S. Women's Open Championship.