Editor’s note: The following information was provided by Kevin Doyle, GCSAA field staff representative for the Northeast region, who is volunteering at this week’s U.S. Women’s Open.
Superintendent Garret Bodington has worked tirelessly for about a year to dial in Sebonack for this week’s U.S. Womes’s Open. He knows the course inside and out, and has been at the course since day one. Bodington’s right hand man, senior assistant Nick Venturino, has been at Sebonack almost as long, and may know more about the greens here than Bodington. How is that possible? Venturino was a critical part of their original construction, and every project since then as well.
Venturino and Bodington were introduced through a mutual friend, and actually met at a GCSAA conference and show. Both University of Rhode Island products, Venturino began interning under Bodington at Bethpage State Park’s Black Course in 2001 and returned for a second season, when they hosted the U.S. Open won by Tiger Woods in 2002. Venturino moved on to gain grow-in experience in his home state of Rhode Island, working at Shelter Harbor. His reunion with Bodington took place the week Shelter Harbor opened, joining forces again at the very early stages of the building project at Sebonack.
Venturino’s grow-in experience proved to be a valuable asset to the fledgling project. He was entrusted with greens drainage and shaping, with only final touches performed by the staff of co-architects Doak and Nicholas. In fact, Venturino explains, most of the contruction was done in house “other than a couple of shapers.” While a great experience onto itself, Venturino adds, “Since then (the course construction) all the work has been done in-house. We’ve built tees, greens …. everything.”
That is Sebonack from the ground up. What about the challenges of the recent months getting the property ready for the best women golfers in the world? “The place is always in great shape, because that is what is demanded. It was the little things you see every day, weeds in the rough, cleaning up the native (areas). That took a lot of time, it’s a lot of hand work.”
Venturino credits his staff, “We have a great crew. We have a lot of guys that have been here for seven years (since the course officially opened in 2006). We knew we could get the job done. We wanted it perfect, especially when the whole world is watching.”
Asked about the vision for the facility from the time the course was built, Venturino states “Michael Pascucci (Sebonack’s owner) really wanted a golf course. His dream has come true this week, having an event.” Bodington sings the praises of his senior assistant when asked to describe his right-hand man. He even distinguishes him from fellow assistant Nick Mol, referring to Venturino as “Super Nick” over the course radio system. Perhaps there may come a time when “Super Nick” dons a cape, and flies off to another project or facility. Probably one he can help shape in-house.