Really, Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y., is in its infancy.
No wonder, then, that GCSAA Class A superintendent Garret Bodington talks like a proud papa. After all, this week he gets to showcase the golf course where he has been employed since ground broke in 2006. Sebonack is at the center of the golf universe as staff prepares to host the U.S. Women's Open. First round action starts Thursday, June 27.
"To be part of a team that brought this all together, it's going to be a lot of fun," Bodington says.
Bodington is no stranger to high-level competition as he has been on staffs that have hosted a Champions Tour event (Desert Mountain Golf Club), the Masters (Augusta National) and the U.S. Open (Bethpage State Park – where he was the superintendent at the Black Course).
Bodington can even draw on his days as a college student at Rhode Island where he competed at the NCAA Division I level for the varsity hockey team. He parlayed that into a gig as an emergency goaltender for the National Hockey League's New York Islanders. He still practices with the team on occasion, calling it "a nice escape from work."
Despite having a wealth of experience in hosting men's events, he sees no difference in conditioning Sebonack for the women.
"I view it as the same in preparing for a men's event. We will be focused on providing the best conditions possible," Bodington says. "We do have wide fairways. Our greens will be our defense."
In a recent interview with Newsday, Bodington indicated the course is firming up after going through a period of 8 inches of rain in eight days.
He also recently took some time during a busy week to share his thoughts on the big event with GCSAA's monthly publication, Golf Course Management magazine:
Q: Obviously for an event such as this, weather plays a key role. How is that aspect of it shaping up?
A: Right now, the weather's perfect. Let's continue to get that. Either way, the wind here is going to have a huge impact on the championship.
Q: How so?
A: Well, we're one mile from the Atlantic, and right on the water at Peconic Bay. If it blows 10 to 15 miles per hour, you'll probably see about even par win it. If it doesn't blow like that, 2- to 4-under could be the winning score. But if it really blows, which will make it even harder, 4- to 6-over might be what we'll get.
Q: Describe the golf course.
A: We have some wide fairways. No. 3 is 100 yards wide. The true defense of the golf course, though, is the greens. Jack Nicklaus (who co-designed Sebonack with Tom Doak) did the strategy here, and he made it challenging. Tom did the look and the routing. The USGA wanted some minor adjustments to the fairways, and we have adjusted the rough line to be 6 inches. They didn't want it to be unplayable.
Q: Will Nicklaus or Doak make an appearance this week?
A: I know Tom is coming. I don't know if Mr. Nicklaus will be here. We do, though, have Nicklaus here; the Nicklaus Pavilion is left of the first hole, adjacent to No. 18.
Q: You have some peers nearby who are lending a helping hand. What have they done for you?
A: The camaraderie out here is so strong. Jon Jennings (CGCS) is right by us at Shinnecock Hills, and he has hosted majors. We have a lot of experience with people like him around and our crew. (NOTE: Jennings' daughter, Sam, was the first female caddie at Sebonack.)
Q: Did you ever think about pursuing the National Hockey League?
A: A former teammate of mine told me a long time ago I made a wise choice to become a superintendent, rather than traveling through small towns to play minor league hockey.
Q: When you practice with the Islanders, do you ever feel as if you could make it in the NHL as a goalie?
A: For an hour and a half, you can start to think you're a pro for that time. There have been some times when I came off the ice that I felt like I could probably play with them. Then I came to the realization my game was just on that day.
About GCSAA: GCSAA is a leading golf organization and has as its focus golf course management. Since 1926, GCSAA has been the top professional association for the men and women who manage golf courses in the United States and worldwide. From its headquarters in Lawrence, Kan., the association provides education, information and representation to nearly 18,000 members in more than 72 countries. GCSAA's mission is to serve its members, advance their profession and enhance the enjoyment, growth and vitality of the game of golf. Find GCSAA on Facebook, follow GCSAA on Twitter, and visit GCSAA at www.gcsaa.org. The Environmental Institute for Golf is the philanthropic organization of the GCSAA, and has as its mission to foster sustainability through research, awareness, education, programs and scholarships for the benefit of golf course management professionals, golf facilities and the game. Visit www.eifg.org.