PEBBLE BEACH, California — Jack Nicklaus has repeatedly said, with the confidence that made him the greatest major champion of all time, that the U.S. Open will head someday to Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton. Here this week, Mike Davis, the CEO of the U.S. Golf Association confirmed that it is "a possibility."
There is no telling how likely that is, given the competition to host an event that is booked through 2027. But Nicklaus at least twice predicted that it will happen for the course that he co-designed with Tom Doak, a venue that hosted the 2013 U.S. Women’s Open.
Speaking at a Long Island Association luncheon recently, the 18-time major winner said, “I think we’re going to get the U.S. Open out there…and it won’t be long.” He wrote something similar when he served as guest editor of Golf magazine last month,
Davis, interviewed at this year’s Open here, said, “It’s one of many courses that has offered an invitation to host it. When it gets to that, there’s actually a team — I’m not necessarily engaged in that any more — but I daresay that there are probably 25-plus courses that have interest. The team does an analysis of every single course. I think it’s fair to say of every one of those that I’ve seen, is there a possibility? Absolutely.
“Courses that submit an invitation normally don’t do so if there’s just no chance,” referring to Sebonack and its founder/owner, Davis added, “They hosted a great Women’s Open for us, they have a great person, Mike Pascucci, who is in charge of it. It sits out there among royalty with Shinnecock and National.”
The Open is scheduled to return to Southampton, at Shinnecock Hills (which is visible from Sebonack), in 2026. Still, the endorsement of Nicklaus, who is a good friend of the USGA ans Pascucci, does not hurt Sebonack’s candidacy. “Absolutely not,” Davis said.
USGA propelled the Black
Carp all you want about the USGA. The organization has earned its share of criticism. But there is no denying one huge positive it achieved in turning Bethpage Black into a major championship site and world-class venue for public golfers.
A massive leap of faith under David Fay, then the USGA’s executive director, brought the 2002 and 2009 U.S. Opens to the state park — something that had seemed incomprehensible. “I’m glad it worked out. People I know were going to call it 'Fay’s Folly,’” said Fay, who retired from the USGA in 2010 and is here, working as a rules expert for Fox.
“It was the first real 'muni’ to have an Open,” he said, referring to municipal courses. “You know the musical, 'A Chorus Line?’ The opening song is, 'I Can Do That.’ Well, after Bethpage other places said, 'I can do that.’ ” He cited the 2008 Open at Torrey Pines as well as the 2015 Open at Chambers Bay, both daily-fee courses.
But the real enduring legacy of bringing the Open to the Black Course is the conditioning that began with the massive improvements that the USGA planned and paid for. “That makes me very proud,” Fay said. “Those golfers are very passionate.”
He added that the passions went on full display in the 2002 championship won by Tiger Woods, a development that Fay believes helped the New York area heal after 9/11. The former USGA head added that the whole concept of a People’s Open always resonated with him as a New Yorker who grew up as a caddie, in a family that did not belong to a country club.
“There were a lot of people there who deserve credit: Dave Catalano, Craig Currier, Bernadette Castro, and the governor at the time, George Pataki,” he said, referring respectively to the then park director, superintendent and state parks commissioner.
Fay watched some of the PGA Championship on the Black last month and still was impressed by the look and feel of the place. “It is,” he said, “going to be a fabulous site for the Ryder Cup.”
Bob Vachris, Glen Cove GC, 11th hole, 158 yards, 3-hybrid
Bonnie Perlmutter, Willow Creek G&CC, 16th hole, 96 yards, 9-iron
Howard Teichner (of Plainview), Pinehurst (N.C.) No. 2, 17th hole, 155 yards, 9-iron
Allen Weitman, Harbor Links GC, eighth hole, 196 yards, 5-wood
John Specce, Town of Oyster Bay GC, 12th hole, 100 yards, 9-iron
Arlene Horowitz, Old Westbury Overlook, fifth hole, 119 yards, driver
Lori Resch Schlewitt, Greens at Half Hollow, 12th hole, 137 yards, driver
Mark Grundleger, Smithtown Landing, second hole, 145 yards, 7-wood
Michael Glen, Sandy Pond GC, fifth hole, 105 yards, 7-iron
Tom Kammerer, Heatherwood GC, 15th hole, 125 yards, 9-iron
Frank Maniaci, Heatherwood GC, sixth hole, 154 yards, 6-iron